Goodbye, Vickie Lynn.

anna in crowd

"There are no second acts in American lives," ⎯ F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Of course, we all know that Anna Nicole Smith had several acts in her tempestuous life before her final curtain fell, and she lived out several genres as well, from soft-porn to farce to reality TV to courtroom drama to tragedy. She was born into a cliché of poverty and a broken home; she had nothing but her good looks, a voluptuous figure and a fervent will to be somebody; she lived hard; and she died as a cliché of American excess. She is the only celebrity I know of whose life has traversed the sex soaked grottos of Hugh Hefner’s Playboy Mansion to the hallowed halls of the United States Supreme Court. She was absolutely one of a kind in life though not so unique in death in that she most likely shared the same fate as her idol Marilyn Monroe among other celebrities who lived fast and died young.

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But you already know this.

What you may not know is that Anna Nicole Smith fancied herself a painter too. She enjoyed painting so much that she actually had a gallery show to publicly display her works and, if I recall, to raise money for charity with the proceeds.

That’s the night I met her. Along with the gallery showing, the crew from The Anna Nicole Show was there to document all the festivities (The Anna Nicole Show, Season 2, Episode 9: “Paint & Pain”). Sure, I’ll admit. I wanted to join in on the train wreck that was Anna Nicole Smith, but other than an obviously staged brouhaha involving the show’s antagonist, Bobby Trendy, there was no drama or nastiness to be seen. It was like any other gallery showing I’ve attended. And Anna Nicole, seemingly dolled up for the prom in her debutante updo and ornate white satin dress, even gave a pleasant, little speech and thanked the crowd for coming and hoped that everyone liked her paintings.

anna and eddie

It would've been very easy to skewer Anna Nicole’s pieces, but what kept me in check was the charm of the paintings. They were by no stretch of the imagination masterpieces or were they even competent, but they were really cute, childlike. Even innocent. It was less a real gallery showing than a fourth grader’s open house. Even her late son Daniel was by her side. It was really quite sweet.

anna nicole painting

When I got the chance to chat her up, I told her that I’ve been following her career since she replaced Claudia Schiffer as the Guess? model. I made a little champagne toast to her and her paintings. I also told her that my favorite piece was the monkey painting and if I had enough money I would’ve purchased it. She was surprisingly soft-spoken and gracious, saying “thank you” and “I’m glad you like my paintings.”

This is the only event involving Anna Nicole of which I have a personal account. It just so happens to be totally incongruous with what I’ve seen and read about her in the media. I am by no means disputing her wild and reckless life, however, the innocence of that evening really made an impact on me.

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As with any larger than life and tragic figure, Anna Nicole’s death and its aftermath has taken on a life of its own. In effect, the ugly events that will inevitably play out after her death is yet another act⎯an act that F. Scott Fitzgerald surely would have missed entirely.

In an intensely scrutinized life and death saturated with pain, anguish, greed, sleaze and intoxication, that one moment of innocence I witnessed should’ve been more valuable to Anna Nicole than her bitterly pursued, multi-million dollar inheritance from her late husband and oil tycoon, J. Howard Marshall. Perhaps what she needed more of was that innocence. Maybe that might’ve saved her life. She was born with nothing. She eventually got more than she ever dreamed possible. And then it suddenly all came crashing down around her.

I, we, finally got that train wreck we’ve all been waiting for.

anna and son
Anna Nicole Smith sitting next to her son Daniel.

Vickie Lynn Marshall aka Anna Nicole Smith (November 28, 1967 – February 8, 2007)

Comments

Juliet said…
I was never a fan of Anna Nicole Smith, but I never disliked her, either. I actually felt bad for her sometimes. Especially after the death of her son. If that happened to me, I think I would go crazy or something. Talk about the worst pain a person could ever have to endure!
It's sad that she died so young. She was only nine years older than me. How tragic that her life was cut so short.
Anonymous said…
Unfortuantely, she was a product of the media. They used her, loved her, crucified her, hated her and ultimately, the fame the gave her life, gave her death as well. We were ravenous, we wanted more, more scandel, more skin, more shocking behaviour, and like a poor girl from the hicks who wanted to be someone, she gave it.. even in her passing the craving for more will not be satisfied. Sweet dreams Miss Vickie, may you finally get the peace you wanted all along.
Tana said…
She was not born into poverty or a broken home (though her parents did divorce). She promoted the fiction of "rags to riches" because it made her more money. I did not dislike her at all, but those are the facts.

From today's San Francisco Chronicle:

http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2007/02/10/MNGH6O28UL1.DTL
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Smith had claimed the small town of Mexia, Texas, about 80 miles south of Dallas, as her birthplace. Arthur said she once asked Smith why she had reinvented her biography: "You're born in Houston, a middle-class family. Why do you tell that story?"

"She said, 'Mom, nobody wants to read books or see people on TV concerning, you know, middle-class girl found a rich millionaire and married him. There's not a story in that,' " Arthur recalled. "She said, 'The story is I come from rags to riches, and so that's what I'm going to tell.' "

Arthur said Smith told her, " 'Mom, if my name is out there in the news, good or bad, doesn't matter, good or bad, I make money, so I'm going to do whatever it takes.' "
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I think she is a tragic example of "be careful what you wish for."
Kalyn said…
Hi Eddie,
For some reason I was kind of fascinated by Anna, and often felt bad for her. It's nice to hear this other side of her life. Thanks for sharing your experience.
elmomonster said…
What a beautifully written piece. By the way, who don't you know in Hollywood?
Pirikara said…
Interesting...Were you involved in putting the exhibit together?
ellen said…
it's nice to hear a normal story coming from all this. the media is only focused on the dreaded and down trodden nature of her life...at least she was brave enough to try to keep going even though everything around her seemed doomed.
Art said…
This article is very well written -- so nice to read something sweet about Vicky Lynn. I'm not a fan but I do have compassion for her and especially her child.
Chef_Pie said…
I really enjoyed this article. You sure do know how to hit your mark. Keep up the great work. Also, I have heard rumors of a possible Huell Howser appearance. Any truth to that?

DJ STEAKTIP
Melting Wok said…
hey Eddie, I was lollipopping my chicken again while reading this post. By the way, that 2nd last pix. looks bit freaky, Happy NS day !:)
Anonymous said…
We all have skeletons in our closets. "Anna", Vickie was an individual who left that closet door wide open when she had visitors in her home. I commend her for that. Since so many of us, myself included, rush to see that those doors are shut.
Anonymous said…
Anna died like she lived. We all make our own choices in this lifetime. The tragedy here is this innocent child brought into this mayhem. Not being able to bond in her early life with her mother and caught up in the I'm Anna's Baby Daddy drama, let's just hope that she has strong enough role models in her life to break the cycle that seems to have repeated itself in not only Anna, but Anna's mother as well. God rest you Daniel, you were a good and loving son, God Bless you Dannielynn, may your life be filled with love and may you remember the mother that was kind and fun loving, she loved animals, she loved her children. And to you, Anna Nicole, may you finally find peace in your soul. Be free, fly high, we will see you again next time around!