Thursday, February 08, 2007

Canceled permanently: The Anna Nicole Show

Just when you thought her bizarre life story couldn't possibly get any more strange...

Anna Nicole Smith is dead at age 39.

The news is just landing on the 'Net as I type, but it appears that the one-time centerfold and reality TV star collapsed and died at the Hard Rock Hotel in Hollywood, Florida, where she had been staying since the beginning of the week.

Anna Nicole lived out a biography that would sound like pure fiction if you saw it in a TV movie on Lifetime. The Houston native with the million-dollar bust rose from humble beginnings as a teenaged bride named Vickie Lynn Hogan who shook her twin moneymakers for cash in topless clubs, to Playboy's Playmate of the Year in 1993. She became a national media presence as the spokesmodel for Guess jeans (and more recently, the weight-loss supplement Trimspa), and international tabloid fodder when she married 89-year-old billionaire J. Howard Marshall II in 1994.

When Marshall died — no surprise — the following year, Anna Nicole became embroiled in a decade-long legal wrangle with Marshall's son over the dead tycoon's estate. She appeared before the U.S. Supreme Court last May, as the Nine Old Folks reinstated a California judgment that gave Anna Nicole at least partial rights to the Marshall fortune. A month later, Marshall's son died.

Five years ago, Anna Nicole threw open the curtains on her personal life in the E! Channel reality series, The Anna Nicole Show. America watched as the platinum bombshell careened through her storied existence like a drunken bull in Tiffany's.

Last September, Anna Nicole's 20-year-old son Daniel died under mysterious circumstances in his mother's hotel room in the Bahamas. Only three days earlier, Anna Nicole had given birth to a baby daughter, Dannielynn, whose paternity remains the subject of controversy. Now, Anna Nicole herself has gone to join her beloved boy in that big fried chicken joint in the hereafter.

No doubt, we'll hear much more (more, probably, than we'll want) about Ms. Smith's untimely departure in the days and weeks to come. Like her idols Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield before her, she made a sudden — and early — exit.

Perhaps as much as any other human being one could name, Anna Nicole Smith epitomized the time-honored axiom: Live fast, die young, and leave a good-looking corpse.

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