Paris Whitney Hilton (born February 17, 1981 in New York City, New York) is... well, that's the thing. How did she become famous? Hell, what is it precisely that she's famous for in the first place? Seeing as how she served as the model for the modern ideal of the "celebutante", those are questions that beg to be answered.
Paris was born into the multi-billionaire Hilton family, owners of the hotel chain bearing their name. She was, by all accounts, fairly troublesome in her youth, spending a year at a residential school for "troubled teens" in Utah and getting kicked out of a Connecticut boarding school before dropping out of high school altogether and getting a GED. Afterward, she became a fairly standard model/socialite/"it girl", serving as a regular fixture of tabloids and the New York nightclub scene. In 2003, Fox approached her to star on a reality show called The Simple Life, in which she and another big-city socialite (they eventually decided on Nicole Richie, adopted daughter of Lionel) would be sent to live on a farm in Arkansas where hijinks would presumably ensue. The two accepted.
The scandal that erupted from Paris's sex tape (retroactively known as 1 Night in Paris) turned her into an overnight celebrity and The Simple Life into a smash hit for Fox. She leveraged that fame to appear in a whole slew of films and TV shows, many of which either went Direct to Video or were small cameos (apart from House of Wax (2005), Repo! The Genetic Opera, and The Hottie and the Nottie), as well as record an album, create several reality shows, and write a bestselling, tongue-in-cheek autobiography. When she wasn't working, she was frequently running afoul of the law, most often for reckless driving of very expensive cars (often while inebriated) and for carrying and using drugs. Her list of arrests and fines is too long to list here, so go check elsewhere if you care about that.
Between her behavior and the auspicious beginnings of her career as a celebrity, Paris earned many detractors, frequently topping lists of the most disliked celebrities in America for much of the mid-late '00s. Most people wondered just how it was possible for a person to become a media fixture as big as Paris merely by appearing on a single reality show and making a single sex tape, and the fact that Paris was seemingly only the first of many such celebutantes to take this route to fame made them fear for the future of popular culture. Of course, the phenomenon of being "Famous for Being Famous" is a bit older than people realize — the term "celebutante" was coined as far back as 1939, and many of the "Warhol Superstars" of The '70s fit the bill as well as any Kardashian. Plus, she seems to at the very least be fully aware of how she got famous. But then again, none of the celebutantes of days past ever reached anything close to the level of media saturation as Paris Hilton and those who followed in her footsteps. Does her success say something about the state of our society? If so, what?
Needless to say, Paris Hilton is a very controversial figure.
As far as what she has actually done and ventured into, it includes everything from perfumery, music, acting, and authoring to Reality TV.
- Paris (2006)
- House of Wax (2005)
- Bottoms Up (2006)
- Pledge This! (2006)
- The Hottie and the Nottie (2008)
- Repo! The Genetic Opera (2008)
- Paris Hilton (2004)
- Just Me (2005)
- Heiress (2006)
- Can Can (2007)
- Fairy Dust (2008)
- Siren (2008)
- Dazzle (2012)
- Confessions of A Heiress (2004)
- The Simple Life (2003-2007)
- Paris Hilton's My New BFF (2008-2009)
- Paris Hilton's British Best Friend (2009)
- Paris Hilton’s Dubai BFF (2009)
- The World According to Paris (2011)
- Adam Westing: Many, and perhaps most, of her acting roles played off of her public image.
- On Supernatural, she played an ancient goddess whose personality is that of a spoiled celebrity.
- Her character in Repo! The Genetic Opera, a famous socialite and heiress who is literally addicted to plastic surgery.
- In a Funny Or Die video where she announced she would be running for president in 2008.
- Affectionate Parody: Her video for "Nothing In This World" is one of The Girl Next Door.
- Approval of God: She lent her support to Sofia Coppola's The Bling Ring, allowing the production to film in her home and having a cameo As Herself. She admitted to tearing up when seeing the finished film.
- Billing Displacement: Is on the DVD cover for Nine Lives (2002) and gets third billing (the cast is billed in alphabetical order) when she only has roughly 30 minutes of screen time.
- Creator Backlash:
"The whole video is a not-at-all-subtle send-up of 'porno paparazzi girls' in general and, specifically, me, in a parody of my infamous sex tape...Pink sang about 'outcasts and girls with ambition' and said, 'That's what I wanna see.' But she chose not to see it in me."
- She was troubled by her depiction on South Park, although she at first opted to pretend that she hadn't seen it. After the 'Me Too Movement', she admitted to finding it hurtful, especially the part where her dog committed suicide just to get away from her. She has however affirmed that she loves the show.
- In her memoir, she slammed the P!nk video for the song "Stupid Girls", where her sex tape was parodied. As the tape was leaked without her consent, she was "disappointed" by the video.
- Development Hell: Her second album has been delayed since her first one... by eight years and counting.
- Dumb Blonde: Adopted this persona for The Simple Life
- Everyone Loves Blondes: The marketing for House of Wax played on this, with a promotional T-shirt that read "See Paris Die May 6". What better way to promote a film than by casting an actress with substantial haters just so that haters can see her get killed off onscreen?
- I Am Not Leonard Nimoy: In her first few film roles, she played herself or characters who evoked the public's image of her (Nine Lives for instance has her as a spoiled rich socialite). Even when promoting House of Wax (2005) she marketed a range of t-shirts with a slogan "See Paris Die", and a track on the movie's score albumnote on Varèse Sarabande is called "Paris Gets It" - even though she's playing a character called Paige.
- Identical Stranger: Invoked for her part on the hidden camera series I Get That A Lot. She pretended to be a gas station attendant who simply had a resemblance to herself.
- Ms. Fanservice: Many of her TV and film appearances have her as eye candy.
- Playing Against Type: Along with Chad Michael Murray and Elisha Cuthbert in House of Wax. Paris had previously only done cameos as herself or played characters that were basically herself (Nine Lives). Her character Paige is a small-town teenage girl who worries about an unplanned pregnancy.
- Reality TV: Most of her work has been in this field.
- She Really Can Act: Critics have praised her performances in Repo! The Genetic Opera and as a villain in an episode of Supernatural.
- Shoe Size Angst: She admitted in her biopic that she hates her size 11 feet.
- What Could Have Been: The Simple Life was first envisioned as having her and Nicky Hilton starring. Nicky didn't want to do it, so the second slot was given to Nicole Richie, who had been best friends with Paris since childhood.