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Presenter Anna Nicole Smith poses in the press room at the 32nd Annual "American Music Awards"
It took 15 years and now she's dead, but Anna Nicole Smith's case for J. Howard Marshall's millions has finally made it to the Supreme Court.
Ever since the former Playboy cover model's oil mogul husband died at the age of 90 in 1995, Smith and later her estate have been angling for a slice of a fortune that Forbes once pegged at $550 million. A California federal court initially awarded Smith $474 million but that decision was overturned and the money was granted to Marshall's son, E. Pierce Marshall.
On Tuesday, however, the country's highest court said it would hear an appeal by the late model's estate, based on the claim that her former husband intended to leave Smith $300 million. The case has been complicated by the death of Marshall's son in 2006 and then Smith's 2008 drug overdose at age 39.
A Texas native, Smith was working as a topless dancer when she entered a talent search contest and landed on Playboy's cover in 1992. She was Playmate of the Year in 1993 and went on to appear in a memorable Guess jeans ad campaign and as the star of a lively, warts-and-all reality television show.
Explaining her marriage to the much-older Marshall in a 2005 interview with ABC, Smith told the story of meeting her man in a Houston "gentlemen's club."
“He had no will to live and I went over to see him,” Smith told ABC. “He got a little twinkle in his eyes, and he asked me to dance for him. And I did.”
The case is separate from an ongoing prosecution of Smith's ex-boyfriend Howard K. Stern and two doctors, all charged with supplying Smith with thousands of prescription drugs. They were charged with three felony counts of conspiracy and several other charges of fraudulent prescriptions. The defendants pleaded not guilty.