For a time there, Anna Nicole Smith was Marilyn Monroe incarnate. The busty blonde was the 1993 Playboy Playmate of the Year, Claudia Schiffer's Guess jeans replacement, as well as the face of H&M, all before 1994. Compared to the more slender, smaller models out there, she was kind of an enigma; she stood almost six feet tall with a 38-inch waistline, and she was seen as an icon for a time. Her fame had its ups and downs, but if we're talking about icons in the reality show field, you can't front on the mania that was The Anna Nicole Show, which netted the highest cable rating ever for a reality TV show.
Basically, Anna Nicole Smith was that b*tch for the better part of a decade.
Sadly, her post-Anna Nicole Show years were short and full of tragedy, including issues over her waning television and film career, multiple court cases over her her late husband J. Howard Marshall's $1.6 billion estate, and the death of her son, Daniel, in 2006. It was in the middle of this era that Anna Nicole found herself in the video for Kanye West's final College Dropout single, "The New Workout Plan."
In 2017, it would be nothing for Kanye West to drop a star-studded music video. Hell, there were people who were legitimately unsure if he actually got Taylor Swift and Donald Trump for his "Famous" visual. But back in 2004, with the release of his College Dropout album? With so many people initially doubting that he'd be able to pull of a rap career after being seen as "just a producer," it was vanglorious of him to up the ante after having Stacey Dash star in his "All Falls Down" video to what he did with his video for "The New Workout Plan," especially getting Anna Nicole to not only cameo, but be featured so frequently throughout the video.
Hell, she played Ella-May!
Keep in mind, a number of celebs of that day were featured in this clip; Kanye's squad like a very young, very unknown (at the time) John Legend and GLC were featured alongside Consequence in one scene, and video vixen Vida Guerra played the role of "Jill" from the confessional portion of the video. The mighty Tracee Ellis Ross even played a French character before clapping at the world as herself for a bit, but none of them had as much screen time as Anna Nicole, who was much more than Ella-May the "ultimate trophy wife."
If "The New Workout Plan" was a play on the infomercial craze mashed up with a satire on misogyny and the role of women in the hip-hop scene, Anna Nicole was Kanye's left hand, doing everything from helping lead routines as well as overall product placement.
The success and overall astonishment of Anna Nicole's cameo lead to an infamous appearance at the 2004 Billboard Music Awards, where Smith was tasked with introducing Kanye before his performance of "The New Workout Plan."
Unfortunately, the appearance wasn't a highlight of her career, and even became part of a hearing on her 2007 death, where conspiracy charges were brought up against her former lawyer Howard K. Stern (who was reportedly prescribed eight of the 11 drugs found in Smith's system at the time of her death) and two doctors, Khristine Eroshevich and Sandeep Kapoor, all being hit with charges of conspiring to prescribe, administer, and dispense controlled substances to an addict. (Stern was initially found guilty, but they were thrown out before being overturned in 2012. In 2016, additional charges were thrown at Stern, to which he pleaded not guilty.)
If you're looking for a true Hollywood conspiracy story, Anna Nicole Smith's life has it all: sex, drugs, glitz, glamour, and a questionable death that likely could have been prevented. When she was on, she had a 1000-watt smile and loads of energy, but that came with a hefty price. While today may be the 10-year anniversary of her death, we'd rather remember her with a smile on her face, helping Kanye West call out the f*ckery that women face within the hip-hop scene (and the world in general) via "The New Workout Plan." Rest easy, Anna Nicole.