Anna Nicole Smith's Life in Photos

From Wal-Mart checkout girl to Playboy pin-up, take a look back at the highs and lows of the Texas-born star

01 of 11

Glamour Girl

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Divorced as a teen, widowed at 27 and dead at 39, Anna Nicole Smith lived a life worthy of a soap opera. Known for her fierce drive, the Mexia, Texas, native (who was born Vickie Lynn Hogan) began her transformation into a Hollywood star four decades ago.

02 of 11

Small Town, Big Dreams

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At 17, the high school dropout married Billy Smith, a 16-year-old cook at Jim's Krispy Fried Chicken, the hometown restaurant where she worked. The pair had a son, Daniel, in January 1986, and divorce a little over one year later.

03 of 11

From Nobody to Some Bunny

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Just four years after making $60 a week as a Wal-Mart checkout girl, the single mom sent nude photos of herself to Playboy and landed a photo shoot. She made her cover debut in March and was named Miss May 1992. She got an even bigger honor the following year when she was named Playmate of the Year.

04 of 11

Lovestruck Again

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At Houston's White Dove wedding chapel, Smith, 26, married 89-year-old oil billionaire J. Howard Marshall II on June 27, 1994. Smith met the twice-divorced Marshall, whose fortune was later estimated at $1.6 billion, while working as a dancer at a Houston strip club in 1991. Following Marshall's death 13 months later, Smith battled his son over her husband's estate.

05 of 11

Reality Check


Smith landed her own namesake reality TV show on E! in 2002, starring her son Daniel, assistant Kim Walther and lawyer Howard K. Stern. It premiered Aug. 4, 2002, drawing 4 million viewers.

06 of 11

Trimspa, Baby!

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Named spokeswoman for the diet supplement Trimspa in February 2004, Smith announced on her E! special that she shed 69 lbs. using the over-the-counter drug. Smith debuted her new svelte figure that fall during a concerning appearance at the American Music Awards, asking the audience, "Like my body?" before stumbling offstage.

07 of 11

Baby Hope


In 2006, Smith hit the highest of highs and lowest of lows: she welcomed daughter Dannielynn (born Sept. 7, 2006), whom Stern called their "one ray of hope," days before son Daniel, then 20, died of a drug overdose on Sept. 10, 2006.

08 of 11

A Mother's Love

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The sudden loss of Daniel shattered Smith, sending her into seclusion. "She's overwhelmed," her attorney at the time, Michael Scott, told PEOPLE shortly after the tragedy. "She's trying to come to grips with the depths of her despair."

09 of 11

Two of a Kind

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Through it all, the one constant in Smith's life was companion Stern, Growing even closer in the wake of Daniel's death, the couple announced their love to the world — exchanging vows in a Sept. 28, 2006, commitment ceremony in the Bahamas.

10 of 11

Place Among the Stars

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Smith (here, arriving at an awards show in 2004) once told Playboy in her Playmate questionnaire: "I want to be the new Marilyn Monroe." And like the young Norma Jean, the bombshell set her sight firmly on Hollywood. Smith told PEOPLE in 1993 that she deserved her shot at stardom: "I want it so bad. I've tried so hard my whole life. I'm kindhearted, and I give, give, give. I think maybe it's my time to receive."

Tragically, Smith died of a drug overdose on Feb. 8, 2007, at the age of 39.

At the time of her death, Stern and photographer Larry Birkhead were embroiled in a paternity lawsuit over Dannielynn. An April 2007 DNA test revealed Birkhead was the girl's father — despite Stern's name being listed on the baby's birth certificate — and by that June, a court named Birkhead the child's guardian. Dannielynn is now 16 and lives a quiet life with her father.

11 of 11

Diving In

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A 2023 Netflix documentary, You Don't Know Me, explores and dispels myths about the model and reality star — and uncovers some shocking truths. Ahead of the film's release, friends and family opened up to PEOPLE about Smith's difficult life.

"She was this icon of female perfection," director Ursula Macfarlane shared. "Throughout her life, she was just trying to be what she thought other people wanted her to be. I don't know if Anna Nicole truly knew who she herself was."

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