ANNA NICOLE SMITH
Anna Nicole Smith Dies After Collapsing
Former Playboy Playmate, Reality TV Star Was 39
By SUZETTE LABOY, AP
HOLLYWOOD, Fla. (Feb. 8) - Anna Nicole Smith, the voluptuous former Playboy centerfold who married an octogenarian billionaire and waged a legal battle for his fortune all the way to the Supreme Court, died Thursday after collapsing at a hotel. She was 39.
The blond bombshell - who recently became tabloid fodder all over again after the sudden, apparently drug-related death of her 20-year-old son - was stricken while staying at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino and was rushed to a hospital. Edwina Johnson, chief investigator of the Broward County Medical Examiner's Office, said the cause of death was under investigation and an autopsy would be done on Friday. A private nurse called 911 after finding Smith unresponsive in her sixth-floor room, said Seminole Police Chief Charlie Tiger. He said Smith's bodyguard administered cardiopulmonary resuscitation about an hour before she was declared dead. Through the '90s and into the new century, Smith was famous for being famous, a pop-culture punchline because of her up-and-down weight, her exaggerated curves, her little-girl voice, her ditzy-blonde persona, and her over-the-top revealing outfits. The curvaceous Texas-born Smith was a topless dancer at strip club before she entered her photos in a search contest and made the cover of Playboy magazine in 1992, captivating readers with her Marilyn Monroe looks. She became Playboy's playmate of the year in 1993. She was also signed to a contract with Guess jeans, appearing in TV commercials, billboards and magazine ads. In 1994, she married 89-year-old oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall II, the head of oil-based Koch Industries, which is part of a family fortune worth at least $400 million. He died in 1995 at age 90, setting off a feud with her former stepson, E. Pierce Marshall, over whether she had a right to his estate. A federal court in California awarded Smith $474 million. That was later overturned. But in May, the U.S. Supreme Court revived her case, ruling that she deserved another day in court in her battle with her former stepson.