All About Anna Nicole Smith's Husband J. Howard Marshall II
Anna Nicole Smith married J. Howard Marshall II in 1994 when she was 26 and he was 89
Anna Nicole Smith became a household name when she married J. Howard Marshall II in 1994.
At the time, she was 26 to his 89. She was Marshall's third wife and the second local Texas dancer with whom he'd had a relationship.
Following Marshall's death at age 90 in 1995, much of the legacy of his first 89 years of life — including his savvy business acumen and key role in supplying fuel in World War II — became obfuscated by the media circus that his third marriage attracted.
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Marshall and Smith's relationship would fuel endless headlines and speculation, as well as several long, drawn-out lawsuits over his estate when he died.
Smith, a single mom who affectionately called Marshall "Paw Paw," long insisted that she married him for the right reasons. "I know people think I married Howard for his money. But it's not true," she said. "I love him." The model and actress would go on to engage in a years-long battle with one of Marshall's sons for what she claimed was her share of Marshall's estate after his death.
Get to know Anna Nicole Smith's second husband, J. Howard Marshall II.
He was an oilman — and very, very rich
Though best known for his marriage to Smith, most of Marshall's life and achievements came before she was born. J. Howard Marshall II was born in Philadelphia on Jan. 24, 1905. He was raised a Quaker and graduated from the Quaker Haverford College in 1926, then from Yale Law School in 1931, U.S. News and World Report reported. Upon graduating from Yale, he became assistant dean, taught business courses and published articles about the petroleum industry.
Marshall left Yale in 1933 when he was named assistant solicitor at the Department of the Interior. In that role, he wrote codes regulating the petroleum industry. Two years later, Marshall became special counsel for the president of Standard Oil of California (now Chevron), and in 1937 joined the company's outside firm, Pillsbury Madison Sutro, according to The New York Times.
In 1941, Marshall was named Solicitor of the Petroleum Administration for War in World War II, serving a key role in energy policy at the time. Three years later, he became chairman and vice president of Ashland Oil and Refining Co., and in 1946, wrote what would become the executive order that created the National Petroleum Council. Along with the Koch Brothers, Marshall co-founded Great Northern Oil in 1952.
Marshall then moved to Houston and continued working in the oil industry, eventually founding Marshall Petroleum in 1984.
He was married twice before
Before marrying Smith in 1995, Marshall had two previous wives and a third fiancée.
Marshall married his first wife, Eleanor Pierce, in 1931, with whom he shared sons James Howard Marshall III and E. Pierce Marshall. He and Eleanor divorced in 1961, and he married his second wife, Bettye Bohannon, the same year.
Marshall and Bohannon remained married until her death in 1991 from Alzheimer's disease, but he actually had another lover beginning in 1982, when he started bestowing gifts upon Jewell Dianne “Lady” Walker, a Houston dancer. She also died in 1991 from a complication while undergoing a facelift, The Los Angeles Times reported.
After her death, Marshall and his son Pierce sued her estate for millions of dollars in giftsMarshall had given her throughout their decade-long relationship (estimated to be between $6 million and $10 million total) and recouped much of the value back.
For her part, Smith had previously been married as a teenager to Billy Smith, who worked with her at Jim’s Krispy Fried Chicken and fathered her son Daniel.
He met Anna Nicole Smith when she was a dancer
In 1988, while he was still married to Bohannon and lavishing gifts on Walker, Marshall met Smith, born Vickie Lynn Hogan, when she was dancing in a topless club in Houston.
Three months after Walker's death, Marshall reportedly visited Gigi's, a strip club in Houston where Smith danced at the time. After dancing for him, Smith agreed to go out to lunch with Marshall the following day, when he gave her $1,000. She quit her dancing job that day and began receiving cash and gifts from Marshall.
According to The Los Angeles Times, Marshall popped the question to Smith several times after their first date in 1991. It wasn't until Smith became a celebrity in her own right — a Playboy Playmate, Guess model and actress in films including Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult and The Hudsucker Proxy — that she said yes.
Pat Walker, who owned the White Dove Wedding Chapel where Marshall and Smith later wed, told Texas Monthly that Smith told her, "I'm not marrying him for his money. He's been begging me to marry him for over four years. But I wanted to get my own career started first, have my own money."
Anna Nicole Smith spent millions of his money before they married
Smith focused on earning her own living before marrying Marshall, but he was still happy to spend lavishly on her well before their wedding. According to Texas Monthly, Smith racked up $2 million on Marshall's Platinum American Express card buying diamond jewelry in a single shopping trip in March 1993. New York magazine reported that he also purchased her a bright red Mercedes, as well as a house in Brentwood, a ranch outside Houston and an apartment in New York City.
For all that big spending on lavish gifts, however, their date nights were said to be simple affairs, often grabbing lunch at country clubs or Red Lobster, where Smith used to be a waitress before she became a dancer.
They had an all-white wedding — and Anna Nicole Smith jetted off after the reception
Smith and Marshall married on June 27, 1994, at the White Dove Wedding Chapel in Houston. White Dove owner Walker told PEOPLE that Smith wore a "very, very, very low-cut" white satin gown and "was quite gorgeous."
According to Texas Monthly, Smith's family members actually booked the wedding for her and Marshall in an effort to avoid media attention, and they told Walker money was no object in creating their perfect day. The theme was all-white everything, with Marshall wearing a white tuxedo and Smith walking down the aisle atop white roses (reportedly whole buds, not petals).
The wedding reception featured champagne and chocolate cake, and immediately afterward, Smith kissed Marshall and told him, "Bye, darling, I’m off to Greece."
The pair reportedly didn't spend much time together after their wedding, with Smith residing mostly in Los Angeles and Marshall living in Texas. When Marshall visited Smith in L.A. in December 1994, Smith allegedly didn't let Marshall in her bed, telling him (via New York Magazine), "Oh, no, Paw Paw. You know you don't get up in bed with me. You pee the bed."
Shortly after their nuptials, Marshall's younger son Pierce obtained power of attorney over his father's affairs.
She was barred from seeing him alone in his final months
In January 1995, Smith visited Marshall at his Houston home. Marshall had stomach cancer at the time and was only supposed to be fed through a tube, New York Magazine reported, but Smith spoon-fed him chicken broth. He allegedly choked and needed to be hospitalized.
After the incident, Marshall's son Pierce retained temporary legal guardianship over Marshall and cut Smith off from the oil magnate financially and physically. He also hired armed guards to prevent her from accessing Marshall.
Court documents indicated that Smith was only permitted to see Marshall for 30 minutes each day, and never past 8 p.m.
Anna Nicole Smith held her own memorial for him
Marshall died from pneumonia on Aug. 4, 1995, and Smith and Pierce each held their own separate memorials for Marshall. Pierce scheduled a quiet state funeral for Marshall for Aug. 13, 1995, and Smith held her own relatively ostentatious affair on Aug. 7.
Smith wore a low-cut white gown with her wedding veil for her funeral, with her then-9-year-old son Daniel wearing a white tuxedo, matching patent leather shoes and carrying a black dog. About 30 mourners attended, reportedly none of whom knew Marshall before he married Smith. Daniel and Smith sang Bette Midler's classic "Wind Beneath My Wings" to congregants.
"She wanted to take the coffin out to her ranch and set him up on the patio deck," a funeral home employee told PEOPLE. "I had to talk her out of it — I could just see him sliding into the swimming pool."
His son battled Anna Nicole Smith in court for years after Marshall died
Marshall allegedly didn't include Smith in his will, leaving his entire estate, worth about $1.6 billion, to his son Pierce.
Smith sued in Texas for $475 million, half of the late oil tycoon's estate, but lost in a September 1997 ruling that declared Pierce the sole heir, also shutting out Marshall's oldest son, J. Howard Marshall III.
The court battle took years and included a slew of mudslinging from both sides, with Smith even accusing Pierce of wanting his father dead during one heated May 1998 testimony. That summer, Smith teamed up with Marshall's disinherited older son Howard to sue Pierce, alleging that Pierce conspired for 20 years to take all of his father's fortune for himself. Partly because of complications arising from Smith filing for bankruptcy in 1996, different judges issued contrary rulings, with Smith winning $474 million, then slashing that to $88 million. The case was appealed all the way to the federal Supreme Court, which ruled in Smith's favor.
Pierce died in June 2006 at age 67 from an infection before he could successfully prosecute the case further, but his wife, Elaine, continued on behalf of his estate, even after Smith's death from an accidental overdose in 2007. In 2010, it was finally ruled that Smith's estate was not entitled to any money from Marshall's estate.
Larry Birkhead and other family members believe Anna Nicole Smith truly loved her late husband
In an interview on The Wendy Williams Show in February 2017, Smith's lawyer and the father of her daughter, Dannielynn, said that Smith genuinely loved Marshall.
When host Williams said she believed Marshall "lent something to [Smith's] life … maybe it was daddy issues, or security, or something," Birkhead agreed, adding that Smith talked about Marshall all the time and often compared her lovers to her ex.
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"The thing is that you kind of had to live up to this guy," he explained. "You would roll over in bed and there was an oil painting of him over on one side. You'd roll over to the other side and there was a picture of him on the dresser. If you got into an argument with her, she would say: 'Why can't you be more like my husband?' And I'm like: 'Well, I didn't strike oil yet!' "
During an interview with PEOPLE in May 2023, Smith's uncle, George Beall, confirmed that the late actress "really loved" Marshall.
"The way he took care of her and looked out for her. She cared about him a lot. She didn't want people to think that she was after his money," he said. "Aunt Kay and I both said to Vickie Lynn, 'If you love him, to heck with what people think!' "
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