The oil tycoon would arrive at Rick’s to see daytime shows. He was too convalesced to make the evening performances. Smith spotted him from the stage. Her meeting story goes like this: “He was in the audience, and he was lonely, and I started talking to him, and we just started being friends.”
She would soon learn that this old man was a Houston oil baron, quite possibly the richest man in Texas. He was a Yale-educated corporate maven from a prominent east coast family who served in the Roosevelt administration. The shrewd businessman was wealthy enough when he struck black gold in the 1930s as a strapping young lad, but then the Texas millionaire sealed his status as a billionaire by inking an extremely lucrative deal with the Koch’s in the 1960s.
Her Mom Got Angry
When Smith’s mom found out her underage daughter was working as a dancer, she was furious. She went to Houston and tracked her down. Flashing her sheriff’s badge to the management at Rick’s, she said, “That is my daughter, and I want her out of here.”
She tried to physically remove her from the stage. But her daughter had no intentions of quitting.
Plastic Surgery: $14,000
Management at Rick’s kept Smith on dayshifts. Unabashedly body-shaming, they told her she needed to lose weight if she wanted to be promoted. “We have standards,” they sneered. Her self-image weighed heavy.
She decided she needed a breast augmentation if she was ever going to make it. Building a body is a pricey endeavor, so she started saving up. And then a windfall. Money worries dissipated the day she met J. Howard Marshall. He would be her future husband, but in the meantime, the 89-year-old billionaire lavished her with gifts.
An Unconventional Marriage
The two married, finally, after years of his proposals. They were separated by 62 years, as she was 26 and he was 89 when they tied the knot. Her legal name was now Vickie Lynn Marshall. It was 1994.
Marshall, who had been confined to a wheelchair since they met, sat next to his beautiful intended adorned in white. He kissed his bride, and they fed cake to each other. After the wedding, instead of a honeymoon, just one newlywed took off to Greece to do a photo shoot. She landed success first. Smith’s priority was to make it on her own before marriage. She didn’t want to be cast as a gold-digger.
Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend
Vickie said Marshall threw money at her, that he spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on her without her asking. She would be sideswiped by negative media calling her a gold-digger, but it wasn’t exactly true.
Once, when the lure of fame was just outside the door, her wealthy benefactor took her to Harry Winston and let her pick out whatever she wanted. He didn’t want to lose her attention. $2 million later, she had a diamond bracelet, three diamond rings, two sparkling necklaces, and earrings to match. They had a wonderful friendship, and she loved being taken care of.