When Anna Nicole Smith collapsed and died in a Florida hotel room on Feb. 8 at the age of 39, her passing was nearly as swift and sensational as her rise to stardom. Born Vicky Lynn Hogan, Smith made her modeling debut on the March 1992 cover of Playboy and was a May 1992 centerfold before being named 1993 Playmate of the Year. However, it was when Paul Marciano selected the bombshell to be a Guess Girl in late 1992 that her star really took off.

In a February interview with WWD, Marciano recalled meeting Smith in San Antonio in 1992, after a friend of his at Playboy tipped him off. "She was working at a restaurant at the time, and we asked her to come to L.A," said Marciano, who did a test shoot right away. "She was stunning. She had an incredible face, she was very tall, a big girl. We asked her to come a week later to do a photo shoot."

Smith moved to Los Angeles and appeared in the Guess San Antonio, Miami and New York campaigns. "The reaction we got when she made personal appearances in Hong Kong, Tokyo and Singapore

was something I'd never seen before. Thousands of people showed up. It made front page headlines," recalled Marciano.

Smith generated many headlines in her short life. In 1994, at age 26, she married billionaire J. Howard Marshall II when he was 89. Their marriage ended 14 months later with the tycoon's death, but the public court battle over his estate has raged on for more than a decade, leading her to plead her case before the U.S. Supreme Court. Smith also added actress to her résumé, appearing in the movies "Naked Gun 33 1/3," "To the Limit," "Skyscraper" and "The Hudsucker Proxy." In 2002, she made her infamous reality show debut on E! with "The Anna Nicole Show."

But, according to Marciano, Smith's most important role was that of mother to son Daniel, 20, who died of a drug overdose in September while visiting his mother and newborn half-sister, Dannielynn, at a hospital in the Bahamas. "The biggest love of her life was Daniel, and I think she could not survive that," Marciano said.

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