Socialite. Born on February 17, 1981, in New York, New York. Paris Whitney Hilton is the eldest child of real estate developer Richard Hilton and socialite Kathy Richards Hilton. Along with sister Nicky and brothers Barron and Conrad, Hilton is one of multiple heirs to the Hilton hotel fortune.
Given the childhood nickname “Star” by her mother and grandmother, Hilton, who began modeling as a child at charitable functions, was born into acting stock. Her maternal grandmother was actress “Big” Kathy Dugan, and aunts Kim and Kyle Richards continue to earn film and television roles. Hilton is also related to Zsa Zsa Gabor (who wed her great grandfather Conrad Hilton), and can claim ties to Elizabeth Taylor, who was briefly married to Hilton’s great uncle Conrad Nicholson Hilton Jr.
Hilton spent her childhood moving from one luxury home to another. While living in the family’s Beverly Hills mansion, she attended her freshman year of high school at the Marywood-Palm Valley School in California. When the Hilton family relocated to New York City in 1996, she continued her studies at the Dwight School. At this time, the family took up residence in a suite at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Manhattan, and frequently vacationed at a multi-million dollar home in the Hamptons.
As East Coast transplants, Hilton and her sister regularly attended society functions, charitable events, fashion shows and A-list parties. The two soon became regulars on the red carpet, and a titillating 2000 Vanity Fair spread shot by famed photographer David LaChapelle cemented their burgeoning fame.
Around this time, Hilton signed with Donald Trump’s modeling agency, T Management. She was soon seen in a flurry of campaigns for leading clothing designers such as Christian Dior and Tommy Hilfiger, as well as national publications. Hilton has since worked with other top agencies, including Ford Models Management and London’s Model 1 Agency.
Hilton, who courted regular media attention for her outrageous lifestyle, was christened “New York’s leading IT girl” in 2001. Short-lived romances with actor Leonardo DiCaprio and boxer Oscar de la Hoya—as well as callous comments directed at her peers—earned Hilton bad press, and further fortified her reputation for careless jet setting and hard-partying.
Hilton soon tried her hand at acting, making a cameo in Zoolander, Ben Stiller’s feature-length spoof of the modeling world. Over the next few years, she continued split her time between runways and movie sets, appearing in the 2002 horror flick Nine Lives. The following year, she acted in the feature films Wonderland and Cat in the Hat, and began work on her own small-screen reality series.
In November 2003, an unauthorized four-minute video of Hilton began to circulate on the Internet; dubbed “One Night in Paris,” it featured Hilton engaging in intimate acts with then-boyfriend Rick Salomon. Salomon marketed the video, earning millions in sales, and Hilton filed suit. Although the case was settled out of court, reports stated that Hilton received $400,000 from the video. Additionally, she publicly stated that she had never intended the video to be a commercial venture.
Three weeks after the release of the video, Hilton debuted her first reality television venture on FOX. She partnered with long-time friend Nicole Richie to create The Simple Life, a show that featured the two socialites attempting blue-collar jobs and performing menial tasks. It was feared that Hilton’s scandal would ruin ratings and alienate potential audiences, but the show became an enormous success. Shortly after, Hilton was approached by Guess to appear in three worldwide campaigns. The following month, Hilton made a guest appearance on Saturday Night Live. Her double-entendre-laden interview with Jimmy Fallon poked good-natured fun at the Salomon tape debacle.
The following year, Hilton appeared in the big screen features The Hillz and Raising Helen, and began to branch out into other business interests. After founding Heiress Records (a sub-label of Warner Bros.), she released her first book, Confessions of An Heiress: A Tongue-in-Cheek Peek behind the Pose. Written in conjunction with author Merle Ginsberg, the book, despite being widely panned by critics, quickly made its way onto the New York Times bestseller list. That year, Hilton also busied herself with a perfume line, a nightclub franchise, and the second season of The Simple Life. Although the show secured strong ratings, by 2005 Richie and Hilton had clearly grown apart, and the cause of their split became a matter of public speculation.
While still maintaining her role on the show, Hilton accepted other acting opportunities, including a small but significant role in the horror film House of Wax. Her portrayal earned her the Teen Choice Award for Best Scream, as well as nominations for Choice Breakout and Best Frightened Performance at the MTV Movie Awards.
Focusing on her romantic life, Hilton announced her engagement to Greek shipping heir Paris Latsis in May 2005. The couple called off the nuptials five months later, and Hilton soon began dating Stavros Niarchos III, an heir to a different Greek shipping dynasty. Towards the end of the year, she dabbled in fashion, released her own jewelry line, and published her sophomore writing effort—another collaboration with Ginsberg entitled Your Heiress Diary: Confess It All To Me.
In 2006 Hilton branched into music, releasing her self-titled album on her Heiress label. The record, which peaked at No. 6, featured a range of genres as well as the work of producers including Greg Wells, Kara DioGuardi and Scott Storch. At the same time, Hilton maintained her acting pursuits, and as The Simple Life continued into its fourth season, Richie and Hilton publicly reconciled.
While her business endeavors were taking off, Hilton’s hard-partying private lifestyle would catch up with her in September 2006, when she was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol. Hilton was arrested and placed on probation. The heiress was back in court only a few months later after the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office claimed that she had violated the terms of her probation by driving on a suspended license.
In May 2007, Hilton was sentenced to 45 days in jail—a sentence that was later reduced to 23 days. Hilton reported to the Century Regional Detention Facility in Lynwood, California, on the night of June 3, directly after she made an appearance at the 2007 MTV Movie Awards. After serving only three full days in prison, Hilton was released early in the morning on June 7 for unspecified health reasons. The court ordered her to complete her sentence by spending 40 days in home confinement.
Responding to the perception that Hilton was receiving preferential treatment as a result of her celebrity status, a judge ordered Hilton to return to jail. Upon hearing the sentence, Hilton shouted, “It’s not right!” and asked for her mother. She was subsequently moved to the medical wing of the Twin Towers Correctional Facility in Los Angeles, and transferred back to the Century Regional Detention Facility on June 13.
Hilton was released from jail on June 26, 2007, serving a total of 22 days in detention. As networks vied for her first post-incarceration interview, the Hilton family drew negative press for attempting to extract a million-dollar fee from Barbara Walters and ABC. A furious Walters refused, and network interest dissipated. Eventually, a reformed Hilton appeared for free on Larry King Live, maintaining that the jail’s minister had inspired her to make a “new beginning.”
After five seasons, The Simple Life drew to a close in 2007. Hilton continued to act in big screen releases—Repo! The Genetic Opera (2008) and The Hottie & the Nottie (2008)—and launched a new MTV reality series entitled Paris Hilton’s My New BFF. Hilton seemed to draw the most on-screen attention, however, for her political views. On August 5, presidential hopeful John McCain negatively compared Hilton’s celebrity status to that of rival candidate Barack Obama. Hilton retorted with a video on Will Ferrell’s humor-themed funnyordie.com. The media responded positively to her smart, comedic turn.
On the romantic front, Hilton announced her engagement to Good Charlotte guitarist Benji Madden in May 2008. After a nine-month relationship, the two split in November of that same year. She is currently dating The Hills star Doug Reinhardt.