Paris Whitney Hilton was born in New York on Feb. 17, 1981, to parents Richard Howard (Rick) Hilton and Kathleen Richards Hilton.

Mom Kathy’s acting career in the 1970s included small parts in TV’s “Family Affair,” “Happy Days,” “The Rockford Files” and the theatrical release, “The Dark.”

Paris’ father Rick is the son of Barron Hilton, who heads Hilton Hotels, and the grandson of Conrad Hilton, who founded the company. Rick is a real-estate broker who founded his own firm, Hilton and Hyland.

Paris attended the Dwight School in New York for high school, but dropped out and eventually earned her GED.

Paris is a socialite, but is now better known as a “celebutante,” a cross between celebrity and debutante. She has one sister, Nicholai (Nicky) Olivia Hilton, and two younger brothers Barron Nicholas Hilton and Conrad Hughes Hilton. She splits her time between residences in Bel-Air in California, the Hamptons in New York and the Hollywood Hills area of Los Angeles.

Her share of the fortune built on the family name stands at more than $50 million in inheritance, as well as some of her father’s real-estate empire.

She is also related by marriage to Zsa Zsa Gabor, who was married to her great-grandfather Conrad for five years in the 1940s. Francesca Hilton is their daughter and the only child of Zsa Zsa — or any of the Gabor sisters, for that matter — and Paris’ great aunt.

Conrad’s son Conrad Hilton Jr., Paris’ great uncle, was the first husband of Elizabeth Taylor. The two were married only a year in 1950.

Paris herself was briefly engaged to actor/model Jason Shaw, and later engaged to Greek shipping heir Paris Kasidokostas, also known as Paris Latsis. She also dated former Backstreet Boy Nick Carter.

Paris and Paris broke off their engagement in September 2005. Hilton then began dating another Greek shipping hair in late 2005, Stavros Niarchos, but in May 2006, her publicist announced that they had split.

In July 2006, Paris announced that she and Stavros were back together, and there have been on-and-off rumors ever since.

Paris collects small dogs, but there are conflicting reports of how many she has. Paris is credited with popularizing the “toy dog” trend of carrying a small dog in one’s oversized purse, which she’s done with both Tinkerbell and her other Chihuahua, Bambi.

Known to be a regular in the party circuit on both coasts, Paris has become a media darling and a paparazzi favorite and seems to love the limelight. She has appeared on talk shows throughout America, the U.K., Spain, Germany and France. She capitalizes on her image by hosting gigs for MTV Awards shows and commercial advertisements, but has also been both parodied and mired in controversy as well.

In 2001 she and Rick Salomon, the soon-to-be-husband of Shannen Doherty, made a video of themselves having sex. Three minutes of the footage made its way onto the Internet in 2003. Doherty annulled her marriage to Salomon, and Paris and her family sued.

Salomon then decided to release the entire 37-minute video himself in 2004, telling Playboy, “I'm going to be the sex-tape guy for the rest of my life, so I might as well be the rich sex-tape guy.”

Rights to the tape were sold to a company called Red Light District, based in Panama, which sold the tape and named it “1 Night in Paris.” Hilton sued Salomon but the suit was settled, and she got $400,000 and a share of the profits, which were donated to charity.

As a result she was chosen to be among those featured in the Barbara Walters special “10 Most Fascinating People of 2004.”

Later that year, in the fall of 2004, Hilton released a book: "Confessions of an Heiress: A Tongue-in-Chic Peek Behind the Pose," which became a New York Times bestseller. In the book she gives tips on how anyone can live her life and get what they want, and how to project self-confidence, including walking around “like you’re always wearing an invisible crown. I do. And it’s always worked for me.”

In 2003, Paris and fellow party girl Nicole Richie — the daughter of singer Lionel Richie — embarked on a "Green Acres"-style reality show on FOX called “The Simple Life,” in which they poked fun at themselves and their wealthy upbringing.

The show now airs on E!, and Paris and Nicole have recovered from a rift in their friendship in 2005.

Hilton stirred up more media controversy when she appeared in an ad for Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s restaurants showcasing their “Spicy Burger” scantily clad in a barely there bathing suit, washing a car.

Hilton played on her earlier scandal, recalling her amateur videotaped performance by suggestively handling the sponge and writhing over the car, infuriating the Parents Television Council, which demanded a boycott of the chains.

Paris released her first album, “Paris,” in August 2006. She has released two fragrances, “Paris Hilton” and “Just Me.”

She has appeared in movies including "House of Wax," "Pledge This!" and is scheduled to appear in 2008's "The Hottie and the Nottie."

In 2006, Gameloft, a developer of mobile video games, previewed the Paris Hilton-branded game, "Paris Hilton's Jewel Jam" at the Electronic Entertainment Expo.

In May 2006, the developer released a press release saying they were changing the game's title from "Jewel Jam" to "Diamondquest," in order to "better reflect the fresh, dynamic and sexy appeal of the heiress extraordinaire."

In March 2006, event planner Brian Quintana was granted a three-year restraining order against Paris after testifying that she harassed and threatened him. Quintana reported that she turned against him when he spoke to Stavros Niarchos about her, advising him to reconsider dating her, among other things.

In 2006, in an attempt at changing her image, Paris announced that she would not be having sex for a year.

On Sept. 7, 2006, Paris was arrested in West Hollywood for driving under the influence. She claimed that she had one margarita, and was speeding to get food from In-N-Out burger. She said the high alcohol content in her blood was due to shooting a music video and not having eaten all day. Her blood-alcohol level was .08, which is just above the legal limit in California.

In January 2007, Paris' lawyers entered not guilty pleas on her behalf to one count each of driving under the influence and driving with a blood-alcohol level of .08 or above. She was placed on three years' probation, ordered to pay $1,500 in fines and to enroll in alcohol education.

Later that month, she was pulled over by police who informed her that, under probation, her license was suspended. She then signed a document stating she was not to drive.

In February 2007, however, Paris was pulled over and ticketed for misdemeanor driving with a suspended license, with the document she signed the previous month found in her glove compartment.

In May 2007, Judge Michael Sauer sentenced Paris to 45 days in jail for violating her probation by driving with a suspended license. Later that month, Paris dropped her appeal to the sentence after sheriff's officials said she would only be required to serve 23 days.

On June 3, 2007, Paris turned herself in to prison, reporting to the Century Regional Detention Facility in Lynwood after creating a diversion by attending the MTV Movie Awards just hours before.

On June 7, 2007, Paris' case created a national frenzy after the sheriff released her from prison for an undisclosed medical condition, ordering her to serve the rest of her sentence in home confinement at her mansion.

The next day, Judge Sauer ordered Paris back in court and sent her back to jail, this time to the Twin Towers facility. She resided there until the early hours of June 26, when she was released.

Upon getting out of prison, Paris said she planned to change her image. She also said she planned to build a transitional home so that when inmates leave jail, they don't have to go back to the street.