Hotel heirs Rick and Kathy Hilton enroll their daughter Paris in kindergarten at the posh Buckley School in Sherman Oaks, Calif., where she meets fellow classmate Nicole Richie. Before they were old enough to know what a nightclub was, the best pals "loved soccer and cheerleading," says a school official.
Hilton and her family move from L.A. to the family-owned Waldorf Towers in New York City. Hilton, 15, and sister Nicky, 12, begin crashing events at the hotel, getting their first taste of the local party circuit.
Less than four weeks before the debut of Hilton's FOX reality show, The Simple Life, a two-year-old sex tape featuring Hilton (and Shannen Doherty's ex-husband) Rick Salomon circulates. "I was in an intimate relationship, never thinking my foolish actions would become public," a "humiliated" Hilton tells PEOPLE. The crisis, says sister Nicky, makes her sister more spiritual: "She's taking kabbalah classes."
Thirteen million viewers tune in to the premiere of The Simple Life. Hilton and gal pal Nicole Richie's antics in rural Arkansas doubles FOX's audience in that timeslot. But, New York Times writer Dwight Gardner says the show is so painful, he "had to watch the first episode through my fingers." The following month, fashion critic Mr. Blackwell is also turned off, naming Hilton the ''Worst-Dressed Woman'' on his annual list. "Grab the blinders, here comes Paris. From cyber disgrace to red carpet chills – she's the vapid Venus of Beverly Hills!" he quips.
The disappearance of Hilton's pooch Tinkerbell becomes Hollywood's mystery du jour. Hilton posts reward signs all over L.A., reading, "Please help. This dog is like a child to me." Coincidentally, upon the dog's return, an unauthorized tongue-in-cheek book written from the dog's perspective – Tinkerbell Hilton Diaries: My Life Tailing Paris Hilton – is released a few weeks later.
The same year that Hilton releases a jewelry line and an autobiography, Confessions of an Heiress, she announces plans to endorse a line of Club Paris nightspots in cities including Orlando, Las Vegas, New York and Miami Beach. However, nightclub owner Fred Khalilian fires Hilton as the namesake in 2007 for missing scheduled appearances. PEOPLE reports in March 2005 that she has made $32.5 million in five years.
Hilton's Sidekick II mobile device is hacked. The perpetrator puts the names and contact information of more than 500 people – including Lindsay Lohan and Ashlee Simpson – on the Internet, forcing many of them to change their numbers.
Hilton announces the discord between her and Richie: "Nicole knows what she did, and that's all I'm going to say about it." According to a source, Richie resented being left out of Hilton's Saturday Night Live hosting gig and threw her own party, screening Hilton's sex tape.
Decked out in a skimpy black bathing suit, Hilton suggestively soaps up her black Bentley before biting into a giant hamburger in a racy commercial for West Coast fast-food chain Carl's Jr. Chomping into a sandwich bursting with barbecue sauce and jalapeno peppers, she declares for the camera, "That's hot." The eyebrow-raising ad draws formal protests from watchdog group Parents Television Council, whose research director deems it "soft-core porn."
Hilton announces her engagement to her boyfriend of five months, Greek shipping heir Paris Latsis. Earlier in the year, Hilton tells PEOPLE she's looking forward to starting a family with Latsis soon: "I want to have kids in the next two years, because I know that completes your life."
BIOGRAPHY (top to bottom): Splash News; JUDIE BURSTEIN/GLOBE; Sam Jones/AP; LDP IMAGES; RICK MACKLER/GLOBE; VALLENILLA HECTOR/GAMMA; Jeff Vespa/WireImage; Niki Nikolova/FilmMagic