Monday, February 27, 2012

Death of a Blond Playmate

When most people think of a blonde haired woman that came from Vancouver and appeared in Playboy then went on to acting most probably think of Baywatch beauty, Pamela Anderson. And for good cause. Anderson has propelled her photo spreads in the men's magazine into a lucrative career. But that is not who I am talking about today. As far as I know Anderson is alive and well.

On February 28, 1960 Dorothy Ruth Hoogstraten was born in a Salvation Army hospital in Vancouver to Dutch immigrants Simon and Nelly Hoogstraten.

Now we'll jump ahead seventeen years to 1977 and a teenaged Dorothy is working part time at a local Dairy Queen and attending Centennial High School in Coquitlam. One day while working Dorothy caught the eye of twenty six year old Vancouver club promoter and pimp Paul Snider.
Snider romanced the underage Hoogstraten and had nude photos taken by a professional photographer. He then sent those photos to Playboy. Because Dorothy was underage a parental signature was required but Nelly refused to sign. So her signature was forged.

In 1979 Dorothy and Paul moved to Los Angeles Dorothy shortened her last name to Stratten. She became Playboy's Miss August and worked as a bunny at the Century City Playboy Club. Hugh Hefner had great hopes that the beautiful blonde , who was 1980's Playmate of the Year, could have a meaningful crossover success as an actress.

But there was a wrinkle in Stratten's life. Her husband Paul Snider. Hefner urged Stratten to sever ties with Snider, labelling the promoter as a hustler and a pimp. Other friends warned the young Playmate about her husband's behaviour.

While filming the movie, They All Laughed, Stratten began an affair with the director Peter Bogdanovich. Snider found out after he had hired a private detective to follow his wife. Stratten and Snider separated, Stratten moved in with Bogdanovich and planned to file for divorce from her husband.

On August 14,  1980 Dorothy Stratten went over the house that she had once shared with Snider to discuss the possibility of an amicable divorce. Hours later, around eleven pm, the private investigator that Snider had hired called the house's owner and Snider's current roommate, Dr. Stephen Cushner.  The investigator had been trying for hours to call Snider but Snider wasn't answering.

Cushner broke into Snider's room and found the couple nude, covered with ants and both dead from shotgun blasts.

Such a short life and career but Stratten's influence is still felt. Two movies have been made telling about her life: Death of A Centerford, The Dorothy Stratten Story which starred Jamie Lee Curtis and Bruce Weitz and Star 80 with Muriel Hemingway and Eric Roberts.

Peter Bogdanovich wrote a book entitled The Killing of a Unicorn which was about Stratten.

Bryan Adams co-wrote two song about Stratten. One was Cover Girl which became a hit for PRISM and the other is The Best was Yet To Come. Dorothy Stratten was mentioned in a song by Bongwater entitled Nick Cave Dolls and she is also referenced by the Red Hot Chili Peppers in their song Californication.Gavin Rossdale mentions Stratten in his song Dead Meat which was performed by his band Bush.
Tomorrow would have been Dorothy's fifty-second birthday and I wonder what her life would have been like had she lived. If her and Snider had just parted ways would she have gone on to a successful movie career? Film critic Vincent Canby once wrote "Miss Stratten possessed a charming screen presence and might possibly have become a first-rate comedienne with time and work."

Dorothy Stratten was killed too young and will always remain in our memories as that young, fresh faced model/actress with so much untapped talent. Google her name and see for yourself how beautiful she was.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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1 comment:

  1. Karen...I always enjoy your posts so much...the photographs...and the history lessons...thanks so much!