The Odd Couple
THE BRIDE WORE CLEAVAGE. THE 89-year-old groom, speaking from his wheelchair, assured the 11 people in attendance that he sure did adore his new 26-year-old wife, for whom he already had purchased $1 million worth of jewelry. After the champagne-and-chocolate-cake reception, the bride kissed her man and whispered, “Bye, darling, I’m off to Greece.” Thus was Anna Nicole Smith, big-boned Guess jeans model, Playboy Playmate of the Year (1993) and actress (Naked Gun 33 1/3), joined in holy matrimony with fellow Texan J. Howard Marshall II, a Houston oilman believed to be worth about $500 million.
“She was quite gorgeous,” says Pat Walker, owner of the White Dove wedding chapel in Houston, where the just-revealed wedding took place June 27, adding that Smith had worn a “very, very, very low-cut” heavy satin gown. The culmination of a courtship that began several years ago, it was the second wedding for Smith, who had married in haste back home in Mexia, Texas, when she was only 17. That short-lived marriage, to 16-year-old Billy Smith, who worked with her at Jim’s Krispy Fried Chicken, produced now 8-year-old Daniel, a ring bearer at his mom’s latest nuptials. This was the third time up the aisle for Marshall, who was previously married in 1931 and 1961—well before his present wife was even born. (His second wife, Bettye Bohannon, died in 1991.)
Marshall’s most noteworthy liaison—before Anna Nicole, of course—was with a flamboyant Houston socialite named Jewell Diane “Lady” Walker, famous for her gold-painted fingernails (she used real gold) and the variously colored Rolls-Royces she coordinated with her outfits. Lady died two years ago, at 48, while undergoing cosmetic surgery—and Marshall sued her estate for some property he had given her during their 10-year relationship. (The suit was resolved out of court.)
Marshall, born in 1905, has a degree from Yale Law School, where he became an assistant professor. After a stint in government during World War II, he got into the oil business and eventually sold out to Koch Industries, a conglomerate based in Wichita, Kans.
Anna Nicole, or Nikki, as people in Mexia knew her, has shown some success at leveraging her assets too. In 1991 she sent nude photos of her buxom self to Playboy, which featured her as 1992’s Miss May. That led to the Guess contract and a ticket out of Mexia. And although she hasn’t been around as long as her new husband, Anna Nicole has seen a lot of life. In February she was hospitalized after mixing prescription drugs and alcohol. And in May, Maria Antonia Cerrato, 23, her housekeeper, sued Smith for $2 million, charging that the model had sexually assaulted her last year. (Smith’s attorneys contend the suit is a shakedown and have countersued Cerrato.)
As for the newlyweds, they are keeping a low profile. There is, as yet, no word of where they will live, no word of a prenuptial agreement and no information about their putative honeymoon.