Please observe a moment of silence for one of the most celebrated litigants in the history of the Supreme Court. Anna Nicole Smith was a fascinating personality, and one of the great beauties of our time.
From the Associated Press:
Anna Nicole Smith, the former Playboy playmate whose bizarre life careened from marrying an octogenarian billionaire to the untimely death of her son, died Thursday after collapsing at a South Florida hotel, one of her lawyers said.
Smith, 39, collapsed and was unresponsive while staying at the Seminole Hard Rock Cafe Hotel and Casino, said the attorney, Ron Rale. She was rushed to a hospital.
Smith had been a tabloid staple even before she became Playboy’s playmate of the year in 1993. Readers were fascinated by her bombshell good looks, her marriage to an elderly billionaire and subsequent court fight over his estate, her weight fluctuations, and last year, the sudden death of her 20-year-old son, Daniel Smith.
A former topless dancer, she made her name squeezing into Guess jeans. She resembled the late actress Marilyn Monroe, a similarity played up in her Guess magazine ads, billboards and department store displays.
But unlike most other “tabloid staple[s],” Smith’s significance was legal as well as cultural. How many people can claim to have appeared in both Page Six and U.S. Reports? As the petitioner in Marshall v. Marshall, Anna Nicole Smith helped clarify (1) the scope of the “probate exception” to federal jurisdiction, and (2) its applicability to cases that do not directly involve the administration of a will or estate.
We overuse the word “fabulous” around here. But just like Justice Potter Stewart, “we know it when we see it” — and Anna Nicole Smith was it. She will be missed, by celebrity and Supreme Court groupies alike.
Update (5 PM): A most interesting comment:
Her ex-husband was a graduate of our host’s alma mater — Yale Law School. That makes her 2 degrees of academic separation from him.
J. Howard Marshall was an early figure in the legal realist movement and for a little while, an assistant dean at YLS and a colleague of William O. Douglas.