Anna Nicole Smith rode the elevator with everyone else, to a room that wasn’t the most expensive, at a hotel that wasn’t the nicest, in a hardscrabble part of town with the right name on the wrong coast.
And before word of her presence made it very far, she died.
For all the hours of airtime and columns of newsprint Smith’s final hours prompted, she died not an A-list starlet but simply a face too familiar not to acknowledge. And as her final hours ticked away, she found herself here, five floors up from a twinkling, clinking casino in a Hollywood that’s not the one of every girl’s dreams.
Boulevard of broken dreams?There are no stars on Hollywood Boulevard; it has pawn shops and car lots and a buffet of all-you-can-eat fried chicken, and eventually gives way to cheap motels and apartment buildings yearning for a fresh coat of paint.
The street cuts through State Road 7, which is lined with a vacant mall and an adult video store, and leads through an urban Indian reservation to the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, which rises from a landscape otherwise screaming for some sparkle.
Smith arrived in Hollywood on Feb. 5 and planned to leave four days later aboard a new yacht her companion Howard K. Stern was arranging to buy. It was familiar terrain. She had been here as recently as last month; a concierge said her stays were often compliments of the hotel.
Room 607, where Smith was found Thursday, remains sealed. A hotel spokesman said he is unsure when it might be opened again, but if the final check-in places of other celebrities is any guide, it may gain a cult appeal.
The heavy mahogany door to a similar two-bedroom suite opens to a small rounded foyer with a guitar pick on the wall where the polished silver latch hits. Mounted to the wall are two fixtures resembling bunches of silver-stemmed tulips with illuminated white blossoms; hanging from the ceiling is an orb of glass that looks like a transparent, motionless disco ball.
The living room has an orange corduroy couch and behind pale orange curtains, windows with a view of a pool even more curvaceous than Smith, and just past, a parking garage and freeways. The sitting area connects to two bedrooms, including the master, separated by two massive floor-to-ceiling sliding doors with frosted glass.
Inside is a four-post canopy bed with a down comforter and a simple duvet of subtle white stripes. The sheets are soft Egyptian cotton. A display on the nightstand phone reminds the guest that the casino is always open.
The master bathroom has a deep whirlpool tub with a jar of green bath salts, an orchid and a loofah near its rim. The glassed-in shower has a stainless-steel head that makes the water fall like rain. A copy of Rolling Stone is within reach of the commode; the rolls of toilet paper are sealed by either a red sticker resembling an admission ticket or a band of bright yellow paper sporting the singer Steve Winwood’s line “Roll with it, baby.”
Hotel spokesman Gary Bitner said all of the two-bedroom suites are similar, although the layouts and wall hangings often differ.
Gold-wrapped chocolates arrive with turndown service, the minibars contain lubricant and glow-in-the-dark condoms, a leopard-print ironing board is stowed in a wardrobe closet. In this Hollywood, the average resident might have to save for weeks to pay for one night in this suite, though at $1,600 a night it is not even the hotel’s biggest or priciest. In California’s Hollywood, it would merit an adjective like modest.
Soup to fight illnessAmong a couple of dozen hotel workers, a number noted they didn’t even know Smith was here until she was pushed into an ambulance on a gurney.
In previous visits, they said, she arranged for massages and went to dinner at the pricey Council Oak steakhouse. This time, though she was spotted arriving and plunking down more than $2,000 at a shoe store, she was said to have spent much of the time in her room, ordering soup as she fought an illness.
A bartender said the woman known for taking off her clothes for Playboy and marrying a rich man 60 years her senior was spotted out last Wednesday, having drinks rather quietly in a room off the casino floor where only employees typically pass through.
The big questions as to why that night ended up being Smith’s last remain a mystery, guarded in part by tightlipped police, scattered witnesses and a man in black standing like a sentry outside Room 607.