Also Credited As:Paris Whitney Hilton
|Actor, Producer, Executive|
|Paris Whitney Hilton on February 17, 1981 in New York City, New York, USA|
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Born in New York City, NY on Feb. 17, 1981, Paris Whitney Hilton was the first of four children born to Richard Hilton and Kathy Richards. She spent most of her youth growing up in the world famous Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in Manhattan, which her grandfather, Conrad, had bought during the Great Depression. Hilton's three siblings included a sister, Nicky Hilton, and two brothers, Barron Hilton II and Conrad Hilton III. Upon graduating high school in 2000, the heiress immediately embarked on her quest for fame, first by modeling for such famed fashion designers as Tommy Hilfiger, Marc Bouwer and Catherine Malandrin; then, as a cover girl for numerous magazines, including GQ, Vanity Fair and FHM.
An instant hit with the paparazzi, though largely unknown outside of N.Y.C. and L.A., Hilton received generous media attention for her love life. At the turn of the new millennium, the press romantically linked her to "Titanic" (1997) star, Leonardo DiCaprio, as well as such other eligible young celebs as actor Edward Furlong, boxing champ Oscar de la Hoya, and Tommy Hilfiger model Jason Shaw. Teamed with her tamer-by-comparison sister, Nicky, she pioneered a career for herself as a professional socialite. Bouncing from party to party, she generated an impressive amount of publicity, thanks to her dazzling wardrobe and well-planned photo ops. Inevitably, her high profile and constant close proximity to celebrities made her one in her own right. To complement her newfound stardom, Hilton also adopted a flashy - though not always flattering - public persona as the ultimate "spoiled rich girl." Her penchant for self-absorption and arrogance made for sensational tabloid headlines.
Much to the chagrin of trained and/or struggling actresses everywhere, Hilton's barely-there fashion statements, constant cell phone usage and penchant for dancing atop nightclub tables eventually opened the doors to an actual acting career - of a sort. Usually cast as herself or someone very similar, Hilton made her film debut in "Zoolander" (2000), a Ben Stiller-Owen Wilson comedy about male fashion modeling. Hilton's next cameo was in "Wonderland" (2003), a noir-like drama about a down-and out John C. Holmes, the ex-porn star who was caught up in a late 1970's multiple murder case involving his former drug dealers. Another cameo was tacked on her resume when Hilton played a clubgoer in the big budget kiddy flick, "The Cat in the Hat" (2003) starring Mike Myers.
It was on television, however, that Hilton gained national recognition as the star of "The Simple Life" (Fox, 2003- ), a candid reality show which followed Hilton and life-long friend, Nicole Richie (daughter of pop singer Lionel Richie), in a series of unscripted misadventures. In the first season, Hilton and Richie ditched the glamorous Manhattan social scene and were relocated to an Arkansas farm, where they were forced to bail hay and milk cows. Seeing Hilton and Richie out of their element as they struggled to survive their discomfort provided the basis for much of the show's comedy. To be fair, the premiere of "The Simple Life" received a huge ratings boost for one reason and one reason only - a certain VHS-captured sex romp that at first may have haunted Hilton, but ultimately made her a household name almost overnight.
At the time, Hilton was beginning to do press for her hoped-for-hit show in the fall of 2003, rumors popped up about a videotape of Hilton having sex with ex-boyfriend, Rick Salomon, who also happened to be the ex-husband of actress Shannen Doherty. Though the heiress and her lawyers initially denied the existence of such a tape, Hilton finally acknowledged her participation once a three-minute teaser was spread far and wide across the Internet. To mitigate the damage, the Hilton family's public relations team went so far as to imply that their client may have been drugged - a move that later spurred Salomon to file a $10 million slander suit against the Hiltons. Many suspected that Salomon himself (or someone in his circle) was responsible for leaking the video, though this was never proven. In any case, the subject of the X-rated video would provide fodder for public discussion and late night comedy monologues for weeks and months to come. In response, a humiliated Hilton retreated from the limelight - albeit, only temporarily.
After the sex tape heard round the world boosted ratings for "The Simple Life," subsequently, a second season was green-lighted. Par for the course, however, each new season seemed to arrive with another public Paris mishap. In 2004, Hilton's tiny Chihuahua, Tinkerbelle, went missing, causing a media furor (the dog was ultimately discovered and returned to her mistress unharmed). In 2005, computer hackers cracked open the contents of the Hilton's Sidekick device and posted much of the material on the Internet. In addition to publishing the cell phone numbers and email addresses for such celebrity cohorts as Lindsay Lohan, the hackers also posted topless digital camera shots of Hilton passionately kissing a female Latin MTV personality.
In 2005, Hilton appeared in her first major film role as an insecure, possibly pregnant student named Paige in the warmed-over horror remake, "House of Wax." While the film was panned by most critics, a few actually singled out Hilton's performance as being the single most entertaining component of the film - in part because her character was killed. At the same time, Hilton announced that her friendship with Nicole Richie had reached an impasse after several seasons of "The Simple Life." Rumors abounded for months as to what this announcement would mean for their still popular reality show. After several months of speculation, however, Fox announced that both heiresses would return for a new season - together, no less. Despite this announcement, Fox later decided to dump the show from its 2005-06 schedule. After shopping the series around to other networks, E! Entertainment finally agreed to pick up "The Simple Life" for a fourth season.
Hilton next stoked controversy with a 2005 TV spot for Carl's Jr.'s Spicy BBQ Six-Dollar Burger. Clad only in a plunging black bathing suit and stiletto heels, the ad consisted of Hilton seductively washing a Bentley while eating a burger, amid the strains of Cole Porter's "I Love Paris" playing in the background. Obviously and overtly sexual, the ad drew instant criticism - most vocally from the Los Angeles-based Parents Television Council, which called it little more than "soft core porn." As expected, Hilton simply parlayed the controversy into more work. In 2005, Hilton landed a starring role in - and a producer credit! - on "National Lampoon's Pledge This!" In a less-than-huge stretch, Hilton, this time, played the president of an elitist sorority at fictional South Beach University.
Hilton's tumultuous personal life continued to grab her headlines. In 2005, Hilton split from her fortuitously named fiancée, Greek shipping heir Paris Latsis, after a four-month engagement. Within weeks, she was involved with another Greek shipping heir, Stavros Niarchos. Away from the cameras, Hilton also got a good deal of publicity for her real-life run-ins with the law. In September 2006, Hilton was arrested and charged with driving under the influence after blowing a .08 blood alcohol level on a sobriety test. Pleading no contest to the charge, Hilton was fined $1,500 and was placed on 36 months of probation. Clearly not one to learn her lesson without a fight, however, Hilton would regrettably tempt the fates - a mistake she would come to sorely regret - approximately six months later.
In March 2007, Hilton violated her probation by being busted once again, this time for a myriad of violations including speeding, driving with a suspended license and failing to enroll in a court-ordered alcohol education program. Sentenced to 45 days in jail, Hilton promptly filed an appeal, claiming that the sentence was unnecessarily harsh. As expected by this time, Hilton got little sympathy from the court, nor the public, which had grown increasingly disenchanted with her spoiled behavior. In fact, dueling petitions competed on the web, with many people on the "Free Paris" bandwagon - but not surprisingly, even more people eager - nay, gleeful, even - to see the pampered socialite enter the big house.
On May 9, 2007, just days after her sentencing, Hilton issued a public statement through her attorney, Richard Hutton. Sounding noticeably more contrite than she had ever been before, Hilton accepted the responsibility and consequences of her actions. Ending with a plea for understanding and fairness, Hilton closed her statement with the following: "No one is above the law. I surely am not. I do not expect to be treated better than anyone else who violated probation. However, my hope is that I will not be treated worse." After attending the MTV Movie Awards on June 3, Hilton voluntarily turned herself into police two days early to begin her sentence at a woman's prison in Lynwood, CA. However, much to the dismay of almost every American hoping for a full 45 day sentence served, Hilton was released by Sheriff Lee Bacca to ride out the rest of her sentence at home, wearing an electrical monitoring device - the reason cited being an undisclosed medical condition. An outraged Superior Court Judge Michael T. Sauer - who had specifically sentenced her to serve her time without the option of house detention - ordered her back to court on June 8. Much to the dismay of Hilton and her family in attendance, Judge Sauer demanded she return to Lynwood to finish the remainder of her term, which had technically already been reduced to 23 days. Hilton was reportedly taken away, screaming "It's not right!" and crying out for her mother.
This reversal of fortune became instant headline news around the world, as did her eventual release from prison on June 26. Looking pretty as a picture, the heiress walked out of the facility, past throngs of photogs to hug her parents, who waited for her in the car. Declaring herself a "changed woman," Paris gave her first print interview to People magazine and her first television interview to "Larry King Live" - in which she declared she had learned her lesson, did not like the food, and that her mysterious and often speculated about ailments while locked up were extreme claustrophobia and ADD.
Apparently laying low for a while, Hilton re-emerged with two movies the following year, "The Hottie and the Nottie" (2008), and "Repo! The Genetic Opera" (2008), in which she played the painkiller-addicted daughter of a biotech magnate. Also that year, she made a surprising entry into the presidential campaign between Senator John McCain and the eventual winner, Barack Obama. McCain had previously mocked Obama in several Internet ads, likening him as nothing more than a celebrity along the lines of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton. Not to let a moment in the spotlight pass her by, Hilton released her own Internet ad in response. Decked out in a leopard-skin bikini while lounging poolside, Hilton mocked "old dude" McCain and went on to give a surprisingly lucid take on energy policy. Originally released on Will Ferrell and Adam McKay's Funny or Die website, the minute and a half video went viral in an instant, generating over seven million hits in just two days.
Returning to reality television, she was again the star of her own series, "Paris Hilton's My New BFF" (MTV, 2008- ), a competition-style show where a large group of young women - and even a couple of men - live together and compete in various challenges in order to become Hilton's new best friend. The show failed to live up to its name, however, when new BFF, Brittany Flickinger, who won the season one competition in December 2008, was kicked to the curb only a few months later. Hilton returned to the show for season two in 2009, while also launching other versions in foreign cities, including London and, bizarrely, Dubai. Plans were in the works for expanding the show into Australia, Canada and Russia. Meanwhile, Hilton was nominated for a Teen Choice Award in the Female Reality/Variety Star category.