“She appeared in several movies, among them “The Hudsucker Proxy” (1994) and “Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult” (1994). Her other cinematic credits include “Playboy Video Playmate Calendar” (1993); and “Playboy’s 50th Anniversary Celebration” (2003).”
Is it just me, or did the New York Times’ obituary of Anna Nicole Smith have a little bit of a tone?
In addition to listing her “cinematic credits,” the piece noted that “Ms. Smith, at least in her mature years, was obtrusively voluptuous and almost preternaturally blonde.”
True enough, but, obtrusiveness and preternaturalness aside, the woman’s dead, and she’s left behind a five-month-old who will possibly inherit a fortune and now has three guys, including but not limited to Zsa Zsa Gabor’s husband, claiming to be her father. With all of that going on, did they really need to bring the snark? Couldn’t they have saved it for the weekend think piece?
Anyhow. This article in the Washington Post says that ANC was, in her marriage to ancient oilman J. Howard Marshall II, essentially, a modern-day courtesan – not exactly a prostitute, not quite a bride, a woman who touched a nerve by occupying an anachronistic position on the modern sex-and-money matrix that has a place for trophy wives but not the union of a twenty-six-year-old exotic dancer from Texas and an eighty-nine-year-old former professor at Yale.
It's either a really smart take on an interesting subject, or just designed to make us think its author is really smart (when was the last time you heard Proust and Dickens and Tolstoy referenced alongside a former Playboy Playmate of the Year?)
I tend to think that Anna Nicole owed less of her persona to the old-world model of the courtesan and more to the Gatsby-esque, all-American ideals of reinvention, wherein any pretty girl can, by dint of lots of plastic surgery and sheer force of will, get a new name and a new body and transform herself into someone who, for a time, commands the public’s gaze (with ‘public’ being defined, for our purposes, as ‘Hugh Hefner.’)
And I was struck by the last quote in the Times’ obituary, where Anna Nicole was asked whether the paparazzi bothered her.
“Oh, no, I like it,” she said. “I love the paparazzi. They take pictures, and I just smile away. I’ve always liked attention. I didn’t get it very much growing up, and I always wanted to be, you know, noticed.”
It doesn’t get more American than that.
I’m off to New York City next week where Jane Green and I will appear on the Martha Stewart Show on Valentine’s Day, which should be fun, or terrifying, or both. My Mom and my bff Susan are both coming along for moral support. Also because they like Martha, possibly more than they like me. Stay tuned….
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