During her short lifetime, Anna Nicole Smith managed to sell sex, jeans, weight-loss pills and, with her reality show, a sense of superiority to millions of Americans who could take some solace in the fact that they were not that messed up. She was voluptuous, then she was just plain fat, then she was voluptuous again and, all the while, she slurred her words and giggled through a series of unfortunate events that were all surely her own doing, right? She asked for all of this, right? The deaths and bankruptcies, rises and falls. She had it coming and when her life became entangled in a series of lawsuits, well… that was the natural outgrowth of a life lived so stupidly.
And then she died. Because, of course she did. And the lawsuits refuse to die. Because, of course they do. As noted last fall on this website, the Supreme Court took up one last (?) appeal in the case involving Anna Nicole Smith and sex and money. Except, the Court employs euphemisms like jurisdiction and congressional intent and non-Article III bankruptcy judges, because heaven forfend or something.
As her case flops and wheezes its way to the finish line, now is the perfect time for a look back at Anna Nicole’s life….
The nearly perfect look back was penned by Dan P. Lee over at New York Magazine. If you read only one thing today, please read Above the Law. And when you’re done here, go over and read this article, because it is seriously great.
The story starts with the original Supreme Court case, where Anna mumbled in front of the grand old building “Respect for the Court, please, respect for the Court.” Once inside, Lee notes:
She was almost illiterate and could not understand much of the conversation between the attorneys and the justices, who nevertheless seemed sympathetic to her argument. “It’s quite a story,” Justice Breyer noted. “She’s saying, ‘I just want some money from this guy,’ ” Justice Souter said. “That’s all she’s saying. ‘I’ll assume the will is valid; just give me some money.’ ” [Pierce Marshall’s[ spokesman was telling reporters, “Anna Nicole Smith is not the brightest lightbulb in the fixture.” She sat there crying, overwhelmed, her lawyers would later explain, by memories reignited by the mention of her late husband’s name.
As an aside, Clarence Thomas catches quite a bit of hell for his silence on the bench. But scuttlebutt like that of Souter and Breyer above suggests that talking during oral arguments carries with it its own set of risks. Namely, that you come off sounding mildly idiotic. Did they really need to hash this out in public?
"She wants money, see?"
"Yes, yes. It's about the money. Ahhhhh... "
So the Supreme Court sided with her then, and is now tasked with sorting out additional issues raised by the case, a case that involves nothing but dead people and people who wish they were dead. Because life is hard for everyone, but especially hard for people who are dumb or Howard K. Stern or both.
So what is up with Mr. Stern, UCLA Law’s most venerated graduate? Well, after Anna Nicole’s death, Howard Stern was jacked by the state of California on charges that he had plied Anna with the drugs that ended up taking her life. A judge threw out the most serious charges against Stern, but that doesn’t mean his life is all rainbows and candy. Lee notes:
But his partial acquittal notwithstanding, Howard’s life had been shattered. Jobless at 41, he moved back in with his parents, who in recent years had freely loaned him and Anna Nicole their savings.
The thing about rock bottom is that it seems like it would be living with your folks at 41 after blowing their life savings on a drug-addicted reality show “star” and being publicly humiliated in just about every possible manner. But maybe not? Maybe not.
Another surprising legal tidbit found in the article was that the old man himself, J. Howard Marshall, was a graduate of Yale Law School. Did everyone know that? Well, good to hear it. I was unaware. His résumé before becoming an oil tycoon was quite impressive:
At Yale Law School, he met his first wife, Eleanor Pierce, with whom he had J. Howard III and Everett Pierce; after graduation he was given a high-ranking position in the U.S. Department of the Interior. Later, President Truman asked him to serve as the American counsel for World War II reparations, and upon Japan’s surrender, J. Howard stood beside Dwight D. Eisenhower at the Moscow embassy.
Bros may want to take note. All the prestigious checkmarks in the world don’t mean a thing until you bed a stripper sometime around your 86th birthday. He did some pretty alpha stuff, but he didn’t punch his card in the Greatest Generation club until he scored the former Vickie Lynn Hogan.
Admittedly, these excerpts are only the semi-boring, law-related tip of the wildly interesting iceberg. There is enough fascinating stuff in this article to puzzle over all day long, so put yourself in professional reading or take a long lunch or… Christ, I have no idea how your world works. Just read the article, okay?
And also feel free to take a trip down memory lane through ATL’s archived coverage of Miss Anna Nicole. You also get to track Lat’s peculiarly American fascination with the woman.
Paw Paw & Lady Love [New York Magazine]