'AN 18-YEAR-OLD BLONDE NAMED PARIS HILTON' Circa 2002 New York Post columnist Liz Smith opened her column today with a rather damning accusation: "If you feel like blaming anyone for the rise of Paris Hilton," she writes, "I've got your man ... He is Richard Johnson, the handsomest, best-dressed gossip columnist in history."
Smith goes on to cite a flattering profile of Johnson in Avenue magazine, in which everyone's favorite "debonair yet testosterone-fueled Walter Winchell-type" takes credit for galvanizing the Age of Paris by writing about "a girl who does little else than go to parties and get her picture taken."
While Johnson and his troops undoubtedly deserve the lion's share of blame for pushing Paris to her breaking point, a little Nexis-ing reveals that Victoria Newton, showbiz editor of Brit tabloid the Sun, actually got to her first.
On March 18, 2000—a full two days before Paris' first appearance on the venerable Page—Newton published a story about "Titanic hunk" Leonardo DiCaprio's nightclub encounter with "an 18-year-old blonde named Paris Hilton."