In 1991, Houston-based photographer Eric Redding and his makeup artist wife, D’eva, took a series of Polaroid test shots of a young woman from Mexia, Texas, named Vickie Lynn Smith. The photos were submitted to Playboy, and five months later Vickie Lynn, rechristened Anna Nicole Smith, graced the magazine’s cover. For Anna Nicole, fame, fortune and a lucrative Guess? clothing contract were followed all too soon by problems with drugs, weight and marriage to a man some sixty years her senior. According to the Reddings, who profess to have been among her “biggest fans,” Smith “is a mix of contradictions, contrasts and is big, like the [Texas] map.” But if prose isn’t their strong point, gossip and innuendo are, and they deliver it with a vengeance. From her early days at Jim’s Krispy Fried Chicken through breast enhancement surgery to allegations of prostitution, lesbianism and unchecked greed, the Reddings recount the unsavory details of Anna Nicole Smith’s rise and, especially, her fall with ill-concealed glee, often quoting stories from the tabloid press in the process. Highlights include the reproduction of Smith’s handwritten releases for the Playboy test shots (her likes include “Gentlemen who no [sic] how to treat a lady”) and a mug shot which clearly shows her height, consistently referred to as 5’11” or more, to be just under 5’9”. And then there was the time Eric Redding had to explain to Smith that Los Angeles was located in California. Great Big Beautiful Doll will delight all gossip mongers—and who among us isn’t?
Hardback: 208 pages