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[Netflix] Anna Nicole Smith: You Don’t Know Me: Review

[Netflix] Anna Nicole Smith

Anna Nicole Smith‘s rise to stardom began with an ad campaign for the lingerie brand Guess and the teen magazine Playboy. However, it was her union to the elderly billionaire J. Howard Marshall propelled her to fame, court appearances, and widespread media coverage. Ursula Macfarlane has made a documentary that uses home movies, never-before-seen footage, and interviews with people who claim to have known her best in order to shed light on her contentious and misunderstood life. According to the Netflix documentary narrated by Ursula Macfarlane, Smith’s life was full of tragedy and turmoil.

Anna Nicole Smith‘s youth in a small town in Texas is the subject of the documentary. Smith was formerly Vickie Lynn Hogan, a Texan single mother who had just started working at a Houston strip club, years before she became a Playboy centerfold, reality star, and pop cultural attraction. Smith embraced her reputation as a Playboy superstar and tabloid sensation despite her mother’s suspicions that she fabricated abuse stories for attention. From the public and the media, she received both praise and misogynistic abuse.

According to Missy, a fellow dancer featured in the new Netflix documentary Anna Nicole Smith: You Don’t Know Me, Hogan was ignorant, flat-chested, and physically awkward. Missy, who would become Hogan’s lifelong companion, sometimes lover, and eyewitness to her rise to fame, took Hogan under her care and taught her the ropes of the new gig and the dance floor. However, there were two areas where Hogan did not have any knowledge gaps.  Missy also shares her perspective on how Smith appropriated her own experiences of childhood trauma to further her own agenda, including allegations of mistreatment by her mother, Virgie Mae Hogan.

Smith got her start as a dancer in a Texas strip club, and she got pregnant and had a child while still a teenager. Oil tycoon J Howard Marshall, aged 86, saw her there and promptly fell in love with her, lavishing her with presents and money. They wed against the opposition of Marshall’s son, who worked hard to make sure Smith wouldn’t inherit any of his dad’s wealth. The documentary presents a fascinating tale, but it doesn’t explain why Smith was so fascinated by the billionaire. There are parallels drawn between Smith’s life and Monroe’s story in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,” which is a reference to Monroe. However, Monroe’s famous quip about the benefits of wealth and beauty is not included.

In the documentary, it was revealed that Smith’s upbringing was marked by the absence of her biological father, which she attributed to Virgie.  Archival videos, such as interviews and reality TV-style interactions with Smith’s estranged father and half-brother, are widely utilized in the film. That her father may have tried to abuse her during their reunion is strongly suggested. In 1993, the year Smith was crowned Playboy’s Playmate of the Year, the meeting occurred.

As the scene unfolds, the Netflix documentary seamlessly transitions to vintage home movie footage of Smith in her mid-20s. Despite the challenges she faced, she remains upbeat and lively as she heads to the airport to reunite with her father, Donald Hogan, and brother, Donnie. In this episode, Smith takes both men to the Playboy residence to take part in a party thrown by Hugh Hefner in her honor. Later, the trio embarks on a family trip to Disneyland with Smith’s young son, Daniel. 

Anna Nicole Smith had a high-profile but tragic conclusion. Her life was defined by her public persona, the intrusive culture of the paparazzi, and her battles with alcohol and drug addiction that began following breast augmentation surgery. She passed away from a drug overdose in 2007 at the age of 39, not long after her 20-year-old son also sadly perished in a similar manner. The documentary does a good job of telling Smith’s narrative, but it missed an opportunity to delve more deeply into her complicated marriage with an oil tycoon. Despite the tragedy, it seems that their connection may have been romantic.

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