Yesterday’s tragic news of the death of model/Playmate/reality star Anna Nicole Smith, after being found unconscious in a Florida hotel room, was shocking, and yet, at the same time, oddly not completely surprising. From her days as a stripper in Texas to her marriage to an elderly oil billioniaire, her rags-to-riches life story often seemed stranger than fiction. There was not only her long court battle with one of her deceased husband’s children to obtain part of his fortune, but also her bizarre reality series on E!, and more recently, her only son’s death, shortly after the birth of her baby a few months ago.
As her personal trials and tribulations played out in the media over the last decade amidst the tabloid rumors and late-night parodies, I was reasonably certain of only one thing about Anna Nicole’s life: She had no one around her who truly cared about what was best for her personally. While estranged from her mother and other family members, she still had an entourage–including her lover and lawyer Howard K. Stern–to keep her company. Yet I always believed that real friends, not to mention family, would not let someone they loved be exploited in the way she obviously was, as she staggered and slurred her way through “The Anna Nicole Show,” or any number of other public appearances, for that matter. They would have gotten her the professional help she clearly needed. They would have protected her from those who wished to prey on her assests–financial and other. Instead, it seemed that perhaps a few of them were the ones doing the preying.
Now that she has died suddenly at only 39 years of age, her legacy will not be her beauty–however ostentatious–or the wealth she fought so hard for. And I am guessing no one will be extolling her virtues as a mother. Her life has gone from being a punch line in a comedic monologe to simply becoming another cautionary tale that the material trappings of this world are ultimately futile and meaningless. And sadly, it’s a tale that will probably be soon forgotten, as the media becomes fascinated with the next moral trainwreck in celebritydom.