I feel like I have to defend Anna Nicole Smith, even though I’ve obviously never known her personally. A lot of her obituaries have a snarky undertone to them, and that irks me.
I guess I had a completely negative impression of Smith up until I started watching The Anna Nicole Show. There was a fair amount of cringe-worthy material in that program, for sure— especially the episode where her toothless cousin Shelly comes from Texas to hit her up for money. (It’s one of the most uncomfortable things I’ve ever watched on TV.) But I also saw a side of her that reminded me of the girls I hung out with as a teenager: She was earthy, straightforward and she just didn’t give a damn about what people thought.
Some have wondered why Anna Nicole’s demise is such big news. Well, her life—particularly in the past five months—has been tragically fascinating, and her death certainly comes as a shock. I’ve read quotes from people who knew her that indicate she was devastated when her son passed away just five short months ago, something like a day after giving birth to a girl.
“Can you imagine to lose a boy right after you give birth to a girl?” mused Larry King, who has always been very complimentary about Smith, on CNN yesterday. “I couldn’t fathom that. I could not fathom how she went on.”
Daniel, her son, was always so shy on Anna Nicole’s reality-TV program, but in the few interactions they had on camera, you could tell they loved each other very much. She had him when she was, what—18, 19? In a way, they grew up together, and I’m sure he was something constant in her topsy-turvy world.
I know we live in a celebrity-obsessed culture, and hearing about Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan all the time gets on my nerves as much as the next guy. But there was always something more approachable, more vulnerable and more human about Anna Nicole Smith. Hers is the type of death that makes you pause and wonder about life.