It was the high-pitched whine heard around the world and the voice that first declared “That’s hot” — but it turns out that Paris Hilton’s signature baby voice was put on as part of the celebutante’s plan to dominate pop culture.
"[The baby voice] developed when I was like really young, when I was a baby or a kid," Hilton, now 34, told Broadly. "If I wanted to get something from my dad, I'd be like, 'Dad, I really want this!'"
It worked first when she wanted new pets, but when Hilton Hotels billionaire Richard Hilton caught wind of his daughter’s tricks, he forced her to buy her own animals with her allowance. Eventually, she and her younger sister, Nicky Hilton, owned a handful of chinchillas, rats, mice, hamsters, dogs, and even a goat.
"I don't think [our parents] found out [about the goat]. [The dollhouse] was [so] far away from the main house that my parents never went down there,” Nicky told Broadly of the mini-home with running water and electricity.
But the positive effect of the baby voice wasn’t lost on Paris.
"I learned that from a young age, if my boyfriend got mad at me and I was a teenager, I'd [say in a baby voice], 'I'm sorry. I didn't mean to.' Then [boys would] just forgive you,” Paris said. "When I was developing the character for The Simple Life, I just was like, 'This is your voice for the show, do it all the time.’ I think if you're actually like that in real life, it's, like, beyond. But if you're in on the joke, you know what you're doing, you're aware of it, and you're doing it purposefully, I think it's actually smart."
Developing her voice for the 2003 reality show wasn’t Paris’ only creative liberty. Simple Life producer Nicole Vorias also recalled to Broadly, "[Paris] knew what she was doing. Remember that line when she was like, 'What's Walmart?' She knew what Walmart was. She [created the line] herself and made it something that she knew [would] be like a watercooler [moment]."
These days, the DJ finds herself slipping into the voice when she’s with her friends, which they happily call her out on.
"I always talk normal, but if I start doing it they'll be like, 'Sit down, baby voice,'" Paris said. "People who don't know me probably assume I'm like the biggest airhead on earth."
“Airhead” is not a term that should be used for the mogul, who by 2014 has sold $2 billion worth of perfume.
"The people who don't get it are the ones who would say that because they only saw The Simple Life or an interview where I talk like a baby that I'm just this spoiled airhead," Paris noted. "Anyone who'd actually look into it would actually know it's the opposite: You don't get this far and build something like this by being a dumb blonde."
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