White House Aids Playboy Playmate Anna Nicole Smith

Former Playboy Playmate of the Year Anna Nicole Smith's longrunning inheritance suit has caught the attention of the White House.

Former Playboy Playmate of the Year Anna Nicole Smith‘s longrunning inheritance suit has caught the attention of the White House.

Playboy playmate Anna Nicole Smith has an unusual bedfellow in the Supreme Court fight over her late husband’s fortune: the Bush administration. The administration’s top Supreme Court lawyer filed arguments on Smith’s behalf and wants to take part when the case is argued before the justices. The court will decide early next year whether to let the U.S. solicitor general share time with Smith’s attorney during the one hour argument on Feb. 28.

Smith, a television reality star and native Texan, plans to attend the court argument. She is trying to collect millions of dollars from the estate of J. Howard Marshall II, the oil tycoon she married in 1994 when he was 89 and she was a 26-year-old topless dancer in Houston. Marshall died in 1995.

Like Marshall, President Bush was a Texas oil man. Both attended Yale. Both held government positions in Washington. There are differences. Marshall had a penchant for strippers, and the court record before the justices is one of poverty, greed, sex and family rivalry.

A federal bankruptcy judge sided with Smith in the fight over her late husband’s estate, awarding her $474 million. That was reduced to about $89 million by a federal district judge, then thrown out altogether by a federal appeals court.

The issue before the high court is one only lawyers would love: when may federal courts hear claims that involve state probate proceedings. Smith lost in Texas state courts, which found that E. Pierce Marshall was the sole heir to his father’s estate.

The Bush administration’s filings in the case are technical. Without getting into the details of the family squabble, Solicitor General Paul Clement said that the justices should protect federal court jurisdiction in disputes.

This is indeed an odd case for the White House–indeed, the Supreme Court–to be interested in. Given that both parties were Texas residents at the time, it’s not clear why there is federal jurisdiction here.

As to the underlying case, the idea that Smith was just a poor stripper when she and Marshall met is untrue; she was a very rich stripper by that point:

Anna then went to the Playboy cover contest and won in 1991. She appeared on the March 1992 cover. In 1993, she was crowned the Playmate of the Year.

After she won the award, Guess? president Paul Marciano wanted her to be the new model for the jeans company. Smith was considered to be the next “Marilyn Monroe.” She modeled while having Monroe hair style. Smith made her big screen debut in “Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult.”

Anna Nicole met oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall during the same time she appeared in her first movie. Smith and the billionaire Marshall finally married on June 27, 1994. She was 26 at the time, and Marshall was 89.

Given their age difference and other particulars, it’s quite likely that she was only interested in the man’s money. But she was pretty well off on her own talents, such as they were.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Zeuswood says:

    This case is bothersome the same way Schiavo was bothersome. If the law is that the spouse inherits, to step in and say no to that too freely, if at all, is to erase the marriage contract.

  2. Kathy K says:

    I think in this case there was a will – and the will should prevail in most cases.

  3. Suzanne says:

    There’s got to be more to this…Anna Nicole is from Texas, and her fossilized hubby was an oil man. Could his son Pierce Marshall be an old foe of the Bush’s, so that makes Anna Nicole friends to the Bush camp? Does anyone know? Or is Anna Nicole buddies with the skany Bush twins who strive to be more like her?