Darva Conger's fame initially came from being the "winner" on Fox's Who Wants to Marry a Multi-millionaire?
gameshow in February of 2000. During the honeymoon with then-husband Rick Rockwell, Conger told him she has no intention of consumating the relationship, much less even "being friends
." Three weeks after returning from the honeymoon, Conger moved to annul the marriage, citing Rockwell's failure to disclose a 1991 restaining order against him by a fiancee. The annulment
was later granted in early April with no protest from Rockwell. Both Rockwell and Conger had signed an agreement before the show that either could annul the marriage.
The fallout was rather predictable. The show itself led some to believe the fall of Western civilization was imminent, and the annulment did not help matters much. Despite excellent ratings, Fox cancelled a re-airing of the show and promised not to produce a sequel. Rockwell's reputation was tarnished by reports of the restraining order and actual financial status. Conger was fired from her job at Encino-Tarzana Regional Medical Center. The center said that she was fired for incomptence, not for appearing on the show, as Conger contends.
Citing an inability to obtain "gainful employment" and a possible foreclosure on her house, she justified posing nude in an August 2000 Playboy pictorial. Reports placed her payment at near a half million dollars. The New York Daily News said that the pictures show her as "naturally blond and buff in an outdoorsy type of shoot."
The public sentiment had her painted as a gold digger, with People Magazine saying she was "more vilified than Linda Tripp." In subsequent interviews, Conger portrayed herself as a victim, calling Rockwell's kiss "her most embarassing moment." On the show's one-year anniversary, she appeared with Rockwell in a joint interview on Larry King Live. Conger revealed that she became a contestant "on a lark."
Nearly two years later, Fox had reneged (sort of) on its promise, airing a similar show called Who Wants to Be a Princess on September 24, 2001 (sorry, I couldn't find any news on the fate of that couple). Forbes Magazine's Celebrity 100 list for 2001, which often raises eyebrows, placed Conger in 86th place. The list uses several metrics to rank the most powerful celebrities. For comparison, Tom Cruise placed first and the Budweiser "wassup" guys ranked 95th.