Anna Nicole Smith appeared before the Supreme Court this morning but the hearing was postponed when four of the justices experienced heart palpatations while the vivacious celebrity stood up to be sworn in.
The matter at hand is the estate of J. Howard Marshall, the 89 year-old billionaire Anna Nicole married back in 1994. Marshall died after one year of marriage that included lavishing the buxom star with expensive gifts. When the old coot finally died, Anna contended that she was entitled to half of his 1.6 billion dollar estate. Marshall's surviving family disputed that assertion and a long battle ensued. Marshall's son, Pierce managed to convince state courts that he was the only heir to the estate, but Smith's pursuit of the matter in federal court revealed that Pierce destroyed evidence and altered paperwork that might have given credence to Smith's case. Smith was awarded nearly 500 million by the federal court, but an appeal by the Marshall family has moved the case forward. The Supreme Court will decide whether or not the federal courts have jurisdiction in this matter.
I say Anna Nicole deserves half of the estate. Unless she signed a prenup that specifically excluded her from the estate, which is a fact not in evidence, by virtue of marriage she deserves a significant portion of Marshall's money. Marshall knew that when he married her.
Is Anna a gold-digging opportunist? Hell yeah. She married that old codger because he had big money and he knew that was exactly what she saw in him. He was a shriveled up old man who was on death's door and he got to live out a dream by marrying a woman who was the hottest sexpot on the planet at that time. That last year might have been the best year of his life.
Was he of sound mind? Sure he was. Marshall's move was calculated. For his entire adult life he sacrificed everything to make money. He worked long hours, greased political wheels and supported his family. When he took that last look back over his life he realized that he couldn't take anything with him and all of that wealth was going to end up in the money grubbing clutches of his son who didn't do anything except hit daddy up for money. Why not go out with a bang?
The only sad part of this story is that society expects Anna Nicole to pretend that she loved the old bastard. That was never part of the arrangement. Marshall wanted his own private stripper on hand for his few remaining years and Anna Nicole was happy to oblige. The poor girl worked her way up through seedy Texas strip clubs. How hard would it be to give some rich old coot a lap dance once a week?
What I'm saying is that the exploitation was mutual. Texas courts lashed out at Anna Nicole because they chose to see her as a ruthless woman using sex to con a confused old man out of his money. It's easy to project the image of your senile grandfather on to Marshall, but what if Marshall wasn't senile? What if he was just horny? What if your grandfather just wanted a little action before he died?
Is sex with Anna Nicole worth 500 million? Probably not, but Marshall got more than sex, he also landed himself a trophy that he could lord over the rest of the world. Look at this, everybody! It's all mine. Anna Nicole Smith was more than just a sexy stripper, she was an A-list celebrity. She could have had any guy she wanted and she wanted J. Howard Marshall. He knew his money had a lot to do with it, but by the time he turned 89 was there really a distinction? More than anything Anna Nicole Smith was Marshall's way of letting the world know that he won the game. He traded in his wealth for that vicarious vitality Anna Nicole provided. He died a happy man. Good for him.
And good for her. You don't have to respect her. You don't have to like her. Anna Nicole made a name for herself with a great body and not much else. She's not going to cure cancer and she isn't going to write a classic novel. Anna Nicole has tried her hand at acting and come away looking a bit foolish. But that doesn't mean she's stupid. There are plenty of sexy women out there who never rise above shaking their breasts at a the local strip club and the handful of people who stumble into their 15 minutes of fame typically fail to capitalize. Anna Nicole didn't miss any opportunities. She used her body to become famous and used her fame to attract the attention of a man who could set her up for life. How stupid is that?
Pierce Howard is upset because Anna Nicole Smith came between him and his daddy's money. Pierce was counting on that windfall. He had his sights set on that estate from the time he could count. Imagine his frustration when his dad took a shine to Anna Nicole Smith. Imagine his outrage when she reciprocated. Pierce needs to back off. If his father wasn't of sound mind he could have stopped the wedding. He could have acquired durable power of attorney over his father's estate and kept Anna Nicole out of the picture. But he couldn't do that. His dad was just fine. Old, but otherwise fine. J. Howard Marshall simply decided that he had done right by his family and was going to use the power of his estate to do right by himself. One last piece of candy before bed. Nothing wrong with that.
These things happen all the time. Old men marry young women who subsequently lay claim to the estate. The reason people have a problem with Anna Nicole is because she made a name for herself selling sex. It's obvious that she's not a brilliant conversationalist and that makes the reason Marshall married her even more obvious. The glaring truth in this case is what upsets people. Society prefers a these matters to be subtle. There's nothing subtle about Anna Nicole. She's big, busty and loud. We know that she didn't win J. Howard Marshall's heart, she stirred his loins and for that he was willing to trade his wealth.
What people don't realize is that Anna Nicole traded more than temporary use of her body for all of that money. She became a bit of a pariah when she married Marshall and her career fell flat. Sure, that collapse was inevitable, but the marriage expedited things. People started to hate her after she married that old man.
Now she's a punch line. We mock her because she's always drunk or high or both. We laugh because we assume she's playing along, but the reality is that this experience has hurt her. She wasn't well equipped to handle the pressure of being famous when everybody loved her, now everybody loves to hate her. Sadly, that probably wasn't something she bargained for when she married Marshall.
Anna Nicole married Marshall because she realized that her time in the spotlight was coming to an end. She didn't have enough substance to maintain a meaningful career and the infatuation with her body would eventually subside and she would be replaced with the next hard body to stun the Playboy Audience. When Marshall made himself available, she did the math and figured it was the best investment she could make. Chances are pretty good that Marshall himself spelled that reality out for her. Neither of them realized how quickly the public would turn on her.
Call her what you will, but give the girl her money. She earned it. J. Howard Marshall wanted her to have it. It was a business proposition. He bought her life with his massive fortune. Who are we to judge?