Tycoon who married Playboy model had dementia
- 01 March, 2001 16:14
A Texas oil tycoon who married former Playboy Playmate Anna Nicole Smith was suffering dementia caused by age and illness, a lawyer said in closing arguments of a legal battle over the man's billion-dollar estate.
Attorney Terry Giles said "something happened" to J. Howard Marshall that transformed him from a frugal and private man into a "public laughingstock" who spent wildly on strippers.
"There's no fool like an old fool," Giles said as lawyers began wrapping up their cases in the five-month Texas trial to determine who gets the fortune left by Marshall when he died in 1995 at age 90.
Closing arguments were expected to last until Friday, with jury deliberations to begin afterward.
Giles represents Marshall's elder son, Howard, who is seeking a share of the money. All of it is now controlled by younger son Pierce.
Smith sued Pierce for half the money, but dropped the matter after a California bankruptcy judge said in a separate proceeding that she was entitled to $475 million of it. Pierce Marshall is appealing that decision.
Marshall married Smith in 1994 when he was 89 and she was a 26-year-old Houston stripper. Giles said the marriage was evidence of the elderly man's increasing senility and made him an object of pity and ridicule.
"He was a private man, but he turned his life into a cartoon," Giles said.
Marshall suffered the first of several small strokes in March 1982, he said.
Shortly after the stroke, Marshall met stripper Lady Walker and made her his mistress, showering her with expensive gifts before her death during liposuction surgery.
After a 1980s business dispute, Marshall cut son Howard out of his will. Giles has argued that move was really a Pierce-engineered grab for his father's money.
"These are not nice people," Giles said.
Pierce Marshall has denied the charge and said his father, although beset by physical problems, stayed mentally sharp almost until his death from heart failure in August 1995.
He also has fought Smith's attempts to get part of the estate on the grounds that his father never intended for her to have more than the nearly $7 million in money and gifts he gave her while he was alive.
Giles said the elder Marshall was "insane" to give Smith so much because she was incapable of handling it.
"She's a simple soul, a child really. She responds the way a 5-year-old would act," Giles said.
Smith, a 33-year-old Texas native who lives in Los Angeles, testified at length - and colourfully - earlier in the trial, insisting that Marshall had promised her half his fortune, but producing no proof. Jurors will be asked to decide if she was telling the truth.