Paris Hilton was born February 17, 1981, to Rick and Kathy Hilton, making her the great-granddaughter of Conrad Hilton, founder of the Hilton hotels and source of the family fortune -- estimated at $300 million. Her grandfather, Conrad ""Nicky"" Hilton, Jr., also brought some notoriety to the family, as he was the first of Elizabeth Taylor's many ex-husbands. Paris' younger sister, Nicky (born in 1983), shares the throne as co-heiress of the Hilton empire.
Growing up in Manhattan's ritzy Waldorf-Astoria, the family's New York home, as well as other Hilton digs in Beverly Hills and the Hamptons, Paris didn't seem to yearn for much. Even after graduating from high school, college didn't appeal to her. So, around the year 2000, Paris decided to branch out and become famous. She began to make a name for herself as a model, soon appearing in shows for designers such as Marc Bouwer and Catherine Malandrino, and she later completed an ad campaign for Iceberg, an Italian label. In addition, Paris has posed for spreads in national magazines such as GQ, Vanity Fair and FHM; she was most recently profiled, along with her sister, in People magazine.
At the same time, Paris became the center of attention because of her relationships -- real or imagined by the paparazzi -- with some of Hollywood's hottest young stars. In early 2000, Paris was spotted around town with Leonardo DiCaprio. However, the press, especially the National Enquirer, blew their casual friendship far out of proportion. Nevertheless, she apparently dated Terminator 2's Edward Furlong for a few months, and was later seen out and about with boxer Oscar de la Hoya. The latest news is that Paris is currently shacked up with actor and Tommy Hilfiger model, Jason Shaw.
Paris, along with her younger sister Nicky, also became notorious as socialites, gracing party after party and getting bad press for their antics. For example, Paris has grabbed headlines by shoving ahead of others in a washroom line, then, when upbraided for her rudeness, quipped that she only wanted to look at herself in the mirror. She has also danced on top of bar banquettes, gone topless for attention, and paraded around in designer T-shirts with slogans like, ""Got Blow?"" Yet Paris maintains that the bad press ""sucks"" and that ""people are mean.""
Perhaps in an effort to clean up her image, Paris has tried to make her mark by working on more substantial projects. In 2001, she had a cameo appearance in Ben Stiller's fashion spoof, Zoolander. Other appearances include a role as a strung-out supermodel in the film short QIK2JDG and the upcoming The Hillz (co-starring boyfriend Jason Shaw), and negotiations are underway for Paris to star in an upcoming FOX reality show along the lines of Green Acres.
On top of that, along with her sister, Paris has designed a high-end collection of purses for Tokyo label Samantha Thavasa. Paris has also given back; she has done charity work for Toys for Tots. Unfortunately, her attempts to start a modeling company and a makeup line seem to have fizzled.