Dorothy Stratten

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Dorothy Stratten
Dorothy Stratten 1979.jpg
Stratten in 1979
Dorothy Ruth Hoogstraten

(1960-02-28)February 28, 1960
DiedAugust 14, 1980(1980-08-14) (aged 20)
Cause of death Gunshot wound
Resting place Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery
OccupationModel, actress
Paul Snider (m. 1979)
Partner(s) Peter Bogdanovich
Playboy centerfold appearance
August 1979
Preceded by Dorothy Mays
Succeeded by Vicki McCarty
Playboy Playmate of the Year
Preceded by Monique St. Pierre
Succeeded by Terri Welles

Dorothy Ruth Hoogstraten (February 28, 1960 – August 14, 1980), who took the professional name Dorothy Stratten, was a Canadian Playboy Playmate, model, and actress. Stratten was the Playboy Playmate of the Month for August 1979 and Playmate of the Year in 1980. [1] Stratten appeared in three comedy films and in at least two episodes of shows broadcast on US network television. She was murdered at the age of 20 by her estranged husband/manager Paul Snider, who committed suicide on the same day. Her death inspired two motion pictures, the 1981 TV movie Death of a Centerfold and the 1983 theatrical release Star 80 , [2] as well as the book The Killing of the Unicorn and the songs "Californication" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, "The Best Was Yet to Come" by Bryan Adams and "Cover Girl" by the Canadian rock band Prism.

<i>Playboy</i> Playmate female model featured in a centerfold of Playboy magazine

A Playmate is a female model featured in the centerfold/gatefold of Playboy magazine as Playmate of the Month (PMOM). The PMOM's pictorial includes nude photographs and a centerfold poster, along with a pictorial biography and the "Playmate Data Sheet", which lists her birthdate, measurements, turn-ons, and turn-offs. At the end of the year, one of the 12 Playmates of the Month is named Playmate of the Year (PMOY). Every Playmate of the Month is awarded a prize of US$25,000 and each Playmate of the Year receives an additional prize of US$100,000 plus a car and other discretionary gifts. In addition, Anniversary Playmates are usually chosen to celebrate a milestone year of the magazine.

Paul Leslie Snider was a Canadian man who is best known for the rape and murder of Playboy model Dorothy Stratten, his estranged wife. Following her murder, he killed himself.

Suicide Intentional act of causing ones own death

Suicide is the act of intentionally causing one's own death. Mental disorders, including depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, personality disorders, anxiety disorders, and substance abuse—including alcoholism and the use of benzodiazepines—are risk factors. Some suicides are impulsive acts due to stress, such as from financial difficulties, troubles with relationships, or bullying. Those who have previously attempted suicide are at a higher risk for future attempts. Effective suicide prevention efforts include limiting access to methods of suicide—such as firearms, drugs, and poisons; treating mental disorders and substance misuse; proper media reporting of suicide; and improving economic conditions. Even though crisis hotlines are common, there is little evidence for their effectiveness.


Life and career

Stratten was born in Grace Maternity Hospital in Vancouver, British Columbia, on February 28, 1960, to Simon and Nelly Hoogstraten, who had emigrated from the Netherlands. [1] [3] In 1961, her brother John Arthur was born and, in May 1968, her sister Louise Stratten.

B.C. Womens Hospital & Health Centre Hospital in British Columbia, Canada

B.C. Women's Hospital & Health Centre, an agency of the Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA), is a Canadian hospital located in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, specializing in women's health programs. It is the only facility in Western Canada dedicated to the health of women, newborns and families, and is the largest maternity hospital in the country. It is a teaching hospital and major provincial health care resource, and is a key component in women's health research.

Vancouver City in British Columbia, Canada

Vancouver is a coastal seaport city in western Canada, located in the Lower Mainland region of British Columbia. As the most populous city in the province, the 2016 census recorded 631,486 people in the city, up from 603,502 in 2011. The Greater Vancouver area had a population of 2,463,431 in 2016, making it the third-largest metropolitan area in Canada. Vancouver has the highest population density in Canada with over 5,400 people per square kilometre, which makes it the fifth-most densely populated city with over 250,000 residents in North America behind New York City, Guadalajara, San Francisco, and Mexico City according to the 2011 census. Vancouver is one of the most ethnically and linguistically diverse cities in Canada according to that census; 52% of its residents have a first language other than English. 48.9% have neither English nor French as their first language. Roughly 30% of the city's inhabitants are of Chinese heritage.

British Columbia Province of Canada

British Columbia is the westernmost province of Canada, located between the Pacific Ocean and the Rocky Mountains. With an estimated population of 5.034 million as of 2019, it is Canada's third-most populous province.

In 1977, Stratten was attending Centennial High School in Coquitlam, British Columbia. Concurrently, she was working part-time at a local Dairy Queen, where she met 26-year-old Vancouver-area club promoter and pimp Paul Snider, who began dating her. Snider later had a photographer take professional nude photos of her which were sent to Playboy magazine in the summer of 1978. She was under the age of 19 (the legal age of majority in British Columbia), so she had to persuade her mother to sign the model release form. [3]

Centennial Secondary School (Coquitlam)

Centennial Secondary School is a high school located in Coquitlam, British Columbia. Established in 1967, the centennial year of Canadian Confederation, it is part of School District 43 Coquitlam. Centennial has approximately 1300 students and is structured on a semester system. In addition to academic programs, it offers special programs such as Football, Computer Game Design, Culinary Arts, Automotive Technology, a Hockey Academy, and Experiential Studies.

Coquitlam City in British Columbia, Canada

Coquitlam is a city in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, Canada. Coquitlam, mainly a suburban city, is the sixth-largest city in the province with a population of 139,284 in 2016. and one of the 21 municipalities comprising Metro Vancouver. The current mayor of Coquitlam is Richard Stewart.

Dairy Queen restaurant chain

Dairy Queen (DQ) is an American chain of soft serve ice cream and fast-food restaurants owned by International Dairy Queen, Inc., a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway. International Dairy Queen, Inc., also owns Orange Julius and Karmelkorn.

In August 1978, she moved to Los Angeles, where she was chosen as a finalist for the 25th Anniversary Great Playmate Hunt. [3] Snider joined her in October, and in June the following year, they married. With her surname shortened to Stratten, she became Playboy's Miss August 1979, and began working as a bunny at the Playboy Club in Century City, Los Angeles. [3] Hugh Hefner had high hopes Stratten could have meaningful crossover success as an actress. [3] She featured in episodes of the television series Buck Rogers and Fantasy Island . She also had small roles in 1979 in Americathon and the roller disco comedy Skatetown, U.S.A. , and a lead role in the exploitation film Autumn Born.

Los Angeles City in California

Los Angeles, officially the City of Los Angeles and often known by its initials L.A., is the most populous city in California, the second most populous city in the United States, after New York City, and the third most populous city in North America. With an estimated population of nearly four million, Los Angeles is the cultural, financial, and commercial center of Southern California. The city is known for its Mediterranean climate, ethnic diversity, Hollywood, the entertainment industry, and its sprawling metropolis. Los Angeles is the largest city on the West Coast of North America.

Playboy Bunny

A Playboy Bunny is a waitress at a Playboy Club. Bunnies at the original Playboy Clubs that operated between 1960 and 1988 were selected through auditions, received a standardized training, and wore a costume called a "bunny suit" inspired by the tuxedo-wearing Playboy rabbit mascot, consisting of a strapless corset teddy, bunny ears, black pantyhose, a bow tie, a collar, cuffs and a fluffy cottontail. More recent Playboy Clubs have also featured Bunnies, in some cases with redesigned costumes based on the original bunny suit.

Playboy Club chain of night clubs

The Playboy Club was initially a chain of nightclubs and resorts owned and operated by Playboy Enterprises. The first club opened at 116 E. Walton Street in downtown Chicago, Illinois, United States, on February 29, 1960. Each club generally featured a Living Room, a Playmate Bar, a Dining Room, and a Club Room. Members and their guests were served food and drinks by Playboy Bunnies, some of whom were featured in Playboy magazine. The clubs offered name entertainers and comedians in the Club Rooms, and local musicians and the occasional close-up magician in the Living Rooms. Starting with the London and Jamaica club locations, the Playboy Club became international in scope. In 1991, the club chain became defunct. On October 6, 2006 a new club was opened in Las Vegas, and in 2010 new clubs were opened as well in Macao and Cancun. In time the Las Vegas club closed on June 4, 2012, the Macao club closed in 2013 and the Cancun club closed in 2014. In May 2014 the Commerce Casino in Los Angeles opened a Playboy themed lounge consisting of gaming tables and Playboy Bunny cocktail waitresses.

In 1980, she became Playboy's Playmate of the Year, with photography by Mario Casilli. Stratten also played the title role in the sci-fi parody Galaxina .

Mario Anthony Casilli was an American photographer. Among other photos, he worked for Playboy magazine between 1957 and 1996 and his first photoshoot there was of Jacquelyn Prescott, as Playmate of the Month of September 1957.

<i>Galaxina</i> Science fiction fantasy comedy movie from 1980

Galaxina is a low-budget 1980 American science fantasy-comedy film. The lead actress, Playboy Playmate of the Year for 1980 Dorothy Stratten, was murdered shortly after the film's release.

Hefner reportedly encouraged Stratten to sever ties with Snider, calling him a "hustler and a pimp". [3] Rosanne Katon and other friends warned Stratten about Snider's behavior. Stratten began an affair with Peter Bogdanovich while he was directing They All Laughed (1981), intended as her first major studio film. [3] Snider hired a private detective to follow Stratten. They separated and Stratten moved in with Bogdanovich, planning to file for a divorce from Snider.

Procuring (prostitution) facilitation or provision of prostitute

Procuring or pandering is the facilitation or provision of a prostitute or sex worker in the arrangement of a sex act with a customer. A procurer, colloquially called a pimp or a madam, is an agent for prostitutes who collects part of their earnings. The procurer may receive this money in return for advertising services, physical protection, or for providing, and possibly monopolizing, a location where the prostitute may engage clients. Like prostitution, the legality of certain actions of a madam or a pimp vary from one region to the next.

Rosanne Katon is an American model, actress, comedian and activist. She was Playboy magazine's Playmate of the Month for its September 1978 issue. Her centerfold was photographed by Mario Casilli.

Peter Bogdanovich American film director

Peter Bogdanovich is an American director, writer, actor, producer, critic and film historian. He is part of the wave of "New Hollywood" directors, and his most critically acclaimed and well-known film is the drama The Last Picture Show (1971).

When Stratten arrived at the Playboy Mansion for the 25th Anniversary Playmate Hunt she was very shy and naive. She was very uncomfortable with the casual nudity and sex. Several contemporary playmates including Pamela Bryant, Gail Stanton and Marcy Hanson befriended Stratten and protected her from some of Hefner's friends who they considered to be predators.

Trying to compete with Bob Guccione who frequently appeared in layouts with nude Penthouse Pets, a pictorial with a nude Stratten and Hefner was shot. However, it was pulled after her death and just a few days before printing.

August 1980

On the night of July 31, 1980, Snider, by now aware that his estranged wife was living with Bogdanovich, hid among the shadows just outside the director's Los Angeles estate carrying a borrowed handgun, intending to shoot anyone who appeared at the entrance to the property. After several hours of inactivity Snider grew impatient and left, drove up into the hills overlooking the city and, according to reports, had thoughts of suicide. [4]

At approximately twelve noon on Friday, August 8, Stratten and Snider saw each other for the first time in nearly three months at Snider's (and Stratten's former) house in West Los Angeles. After having already persuaded Stratten to pose for Playboy and then marry him, Snider was supremely confident before the meeting that he would convince his wife to take him back. But his hopes of a reconciliation were quickly shattered when Stratten admitted that she had fallen in love with Bogdanovich and wanted to finalize their separation. A dejected Snider agreed to meet Stratten one more time the following week to discuss a monetary settlement. [3] [5]

Later that afternoon, six days before Stratten's murder, Snider had to return the borrowed gun to it's owner. [3] Over the next five days he would become obsessed with getting another.

On August 9, the day after his meeting with Stratten, Snider and the private detective he'd hired went to a local gun store. After being told that the store couldn't sell him a firearm because of his Canadian citizenship, Snider asked the detective to buy the gun Snider wanted for him. The man said no. [6] When Snider saw the private detective again the following day, he tried to convince the man to buy him a machine gun, for "home protection" as Snider explained, but the detective talked him out of the idea. [3] The next day, August 11, Snider drove out into the San Fernando Valley to look at a gun he'd found for sale in a newspaper. He got lost, however, and eventually went home before finding the owner's address. [6]

August 13, 1980, marked the second anniversary of the day that Stratten had arrived in Los Angeles to begin her acting and modeling career. [7]


Dorothy Stratten's grave Dorothy Stratten grave at Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Brentwood, California.JPG
Dorothy Stratten's grave

On August 13, 1980, the day before Stratten was murdered, Snider bought a used, 12-gauge, pump-action shotgun from a private seller he found in a local classified ad. [3] [6] Later that evening in a conversation with friends, Snider described how he had purchased a gun that day and finished his story by cryptically declaring that he was "going to take up hunting." [6]

During the same conversation, barely more than 12 hours before the murder, [8] an otherwise jovial Snider casually brought up the subject of Playmates who had unexpectedly died. In particular, he spoke of Claudia Jennings, an actress and former Playmate of the Year who had been killed in a car accident the year before. [6] Snider made several morbid remarks to his companions related to the problems at Playboy magazine caused by Jennings' death, including a comment about how the editors will pull nude photos of a dead Playmate from the next issue if there's time. [6] [8]

Stratten arrived for her meeting with Snider at his rented West Los Angeles house at approximately twelve noon on Thursday, August 14. [9] [3] She had spent the morning conferring with her business manager, and one of the topics the pair discussed was the amount of the property settlement the Playmate would offer her estranged husband that afternoon. [10] The police later found $1,100 in cash among Stratten's belongings in the house, which she had apparently brought for Snider as a down payment. [3]

Towards the end of her morning meeting, Stratten's business manager made a fateful observation: that his young client could avoid spending any more time with her husband by handing off the remaining separation and divorce negotiations to her lawyer. Stratten replied that the process would go easier if she dealt with Snider personally, explaining that he was being nice about everything and finally adding, "I'd like to remain his friend." [11]

Snider's two roommates had left in the morning, so the couple was alone when Stratten stepped into the house that she had shared with her husband until just a few months earlier. [12] [11] By all appearances Stratten had spent some time in the living room, where her purse was found lying open, before she and Snider went into his bedroom. [13]

By eight o'clock that evening both of the roommates had returned to the house. [14] They saw Stratten's car parked out front and noted that Snider's bedroom door was closed. [3] Assuming that the couple had reconciled and wanted their privacy, the roommates spent the next several hours watching television in the living room. [15]

Alerted by Snider's private detective, the roommates entered the bedroom shortly after 11 pm that night and discovered the bodies of Stratten and Snider. [14] Each had been killed by a single blast from Snider's shotgun. Both bodies were nude. [3] According to the police timeline, Snider had shot Stratten that afternoon within an hour of her arrival at the house. Snider then committed suicide approximately one hour after the murder. [16]

Sometime after midnight in the early morning of August 15, the private detective telephoned the Playboy Mansion and told Hefner that Stratten had been murdered. Hefner then called Bogdanovich. [17] After collapsing at the news, Bogdanovich was sedated. [18] Stratten's mother was told of her daughter's death at her Vancouver-area home later that morning by an RCMP Mountie. [7]

Stratten's body was cremated and the remains interred at the Westwood Village Memorial Park cemetery in Los Angeles. [19] The remains of Hefner (d. 2017) and Marilyn Monroe (d. 1962), his magazine's first centerfold, are interred there as well.

The epitaph on Stratten's grave marker includes a passage, chosen by Bogdanovich, from Chapter 34 of the Ernest Hemingway novel A Farewell to Arms . [20] Three years after Stratten's murder the author's granddaughter, Mariel Hemingway, played Stratten in Star_80, the Bob Fosse biopic about the doomed Playmate and her husband.



1979 Americathon Stage escort dressed as Playboy BunnyUncredited. Film debut
1979 Skatetown, U.S.A. Girl at the snack barFirst speaking part
1979Autumn BornTara Dawson
1980 Galaxina GalaxinaOnly starring role
1981 They All Laughed Dolores MartinFinal film role. Released posthumously


1979Playboy's Roller-Disco & Pajama PartyHerselfAppears in running gag with host Richard Dawson
1979 Fantasy Island MickeyEpisode: "The Victim/The Mermaid"
1979 Buck Rogers in the 25th Century Miss CosmosEpisode: "Cruise Ship to the Stars"
1980 The Tonight Show HerselfEpisode: "04/30/1980"

Aftermath of Stratten's murder

Bogdanovich and They All Laughed

In August of 1981, one year after Stratten's death, her final film, the romantic comedy They All Laughed , which was written and directed by Bogdanovich, had its US release. [21] After a disappointing limited run in a handful of theaters in the southwest, the upper midwest, and the northeast, the picture was quietly withdrawn. [22] [23]

Upset that what would be his only project with Stratten didn't have a nationwide release, and determined that her last screen performance have a chance to be seen by a broader audience, Bogdanovich bought the theatrical rights to the picture. Out of his own pocket, he paid for a re-release of They All Laughed in nearly a dozen large markets across North America beginning in late 1981 and rolling into the following year. Despite generally favorable reviews and strong attendance in some theaters, Bogdanovich ultimately sank more than five million dollars, his entire net worth at the time, into the vanity project to properly promote and distribute the movie and rescue Stratten's film legacy. [24]

Bogdanovich declared bankruptcy in 1985. In the process he lost his Los Angeles home where Stratten had lived for the last few weeks of her life. [25]

In the years since its inauspicious debut, They All Laughed has been recognized by filmmakers, critics, and others as being one of Bogdanovich's best pictures. One Day Since Yesterday, a documentary about the making and cultural importance of Bogdanovich's romantic comedy, which includes interviews with the director and his remembrances of Stratten, premiered in 2014. [26]

The Killing of the Unicorn

In August of 1984, four years after Stratten's death, the publisher William Morrow released a book by Bogdanovich titled The Killing of the Unicorn: Dorothy Stratten 1960-1980 . [27]

The Killing of the Unicorn is by turns a biography of Stratten, a memoir of Bogdanovich's affair with the married Playmate who was half his age, and a scathing, feminist attack on Hefner, his Playboy philosophy and the hedonistic sexual mores he celebrated in his magazine and practiced at his mansion, and the entire Playboy organization. By far the most controversial part of the book is the director's claim that Hefner had sexually assaulted a then eighteen-year-old Stratten in August of 1978. According to Bogdanovich's allegation the assault occurred while the two were alone in a secluded area of the Playboy Mansion at the end of Stratten's first day of posing for the magazine's photographer. [28] (Bogdanovich chose to use the word "seduced" to describe Hefner's behavior in the book [29] , however, he originally used the word "raped" in the drafts of his manuscript. Bogdanovich and the publisher made the change after being threatened with a lawsuit by Hefner's lawyers. [30] )

Among the other allegations that Bogdanovich made in his book, the most significant are: 1) That Stratten had not married Snider out of love, but rather used her marriage as an excuse to block the advances of Hefner who, Bogdanovich claimed, pursued Stratten as a sexual partner after the purported assault, 2) That Stratten loathed nude modeling and dealing with Playboy in general, and only tolerated the humiliating work in order to promote her acting career, and 3) That Hefner was responsible, in part, for enabling Snider's killing rage when Snider was banned from entering the Playboy Mansion just days before the murder. [30] (Bogdanovich's underlying assertion for the last charge is that Snider was banned because Hefner hated the man. In his defense, Hefner explained that the purpose of the ban was to encourage Stratten and Bogdanovich to appear at the mansion as a couple.)

After her death, Hefner portrayed his relationship with Stratten as platonic and fatherly, as he did with many of the Playmates. [27]


Stratten's murder was depicted in two films. In the made-for-television Death of a Centerfold: The Dorothy Stratten Story (1981), Jamie Lee Curtis portrayed Stratten and Bruce Weitz played Paul Snider. Bob Fosse's feature film, Star 80 (1983), starred Mariel Hemingway [2] as Stratten and Eric Roberts as Snider.

In 1983, film critic Vincent Canby wrote, "Miss Stratten possessed a charming screen presence and might possibly have become a first-rate comedienne with time and work". [2]

In December of 1988, at age 49, Bogdanovich married Stratten's sister, Louise, who was 20. Bogdanovich had paid for Louise's private schooling and modeling classes following Stratten's death. [31] They divorced in 2001 after being married for 13 years.

Singer-songwriter Bryan Adams, along with co-writer Jim Valance, wrote the song "The Best Was Yet To Come" as the closing track for Adams' 1983 LP "Cuts Like A Knife" as a dedication to Dorothy Stratten.

Bush's song "Dead Meat" is written in her memory. [32]

See also

Related Research Articles

<i>Star 80</i> 1983 film by Bob Fosse

Star 80 is a 1983 American film based on Playboy model Dorothy Stratten, who was murdered by her husband Paul Snider in 1980. The film was directed by Bob Fosse and stars Mariel Hemingway and Eric Roberts. Hugh Hefner, disliking the way he was depicted in the film, sued the producers of the picture. In accordance with the family's wishes, Dorothy's mother is never mentioned by name in the movie and the names of her sister and brother were altered. Other names were also changed due to legal concerns.

<i>They All Laughed</i> 1981 film by Peter Bogdanovich

They All Laughed is a 1981 American romantic comedy film directed by Peter Bogdanovich and starring Audrey Hepburn, Ben Gazzara, John Ritter, Colleen Camp, Patti Hansen, and Dorothy Stratten. The film was based on a screenplay by Bogdanovich and Blaine Novak. It takes its name from the George and Ira Gershwin song of the same name.

Barbi Benton American actor, model and singer

Barbi Benton is an American model, actress, television personality and singer. She is known for appearing in Playboy magazine, as a four-season regular on the comedy series Hee Haw, and for recording several modestly successful albums in the 1970s. She retired from show business in the 1980s to raise her children.

Bridget Marquardt American model

Bridget Christina Marquardt is an American television personality, model, Paranormal Investigator and actress, known for her role on the reality television series The Girls Next Door, which depicted her life as one of Playboy magazine publisher Hugh Hefner's girlfriends. Although not a Playboy Playmate, she has appeared in nude pictorials with her Girls Next Door co-stars and fellow Hefner girlfriends Holly Madison and Kendra Wilkinson.

Marilyn Cole is Playboy magazine's January 1972 Playmate of the Month. She was the magazine's first full-frontal nude centerfold. She also became 1973's Playmate of the Year – the only Briton to hold that title. Her original pictorial was photographed by Alexas Urba.

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Eugena Washington US fashion model

Eugena Washington is an American model, best known for being second runner-up on America's Next Top Model, Cycle 7 and for appearing in the music video of rapper B.o.B's single "Nothin' on You". In Playboy magazine's post-nude era, she was the first Playmate of the Year, and was the last to be announced by Hugh Hefner at the Playboy Mansion.

<i>Death of a Centerfold: The Dorothy Stratten Story</i> 1981 television film directed by Gabrielle Beaumont

Death of a Centerfold: The Dorothy Stratten Story is a 1981 American made-for-television biographical film was optioned by Larry Wilcox and his Company, Wilcox Productions from the Investigator of the homicide. Wilcox signed the paperwork at midnight and beat out Hugh Hefner and MGM. Later, Wilcox developed the story and pitched it to MGM where he had a production development deal and subsequently to NBC. MGM and Wilcox then hired the director Gabrielle Beaumont. It is a dramatization of the life and the murder of Playboy Playmate of the Year Dorothy Stratten, played by Jamie Lee Curtis. The movie was aired on NBC on November 1, 1981. Two years later the same story was developed by director Bob Fosse in his movie Star 80, starring Mariel Hemingway and Eric Roberts.

Killing of the Unicorn: Dorothy Stratten 1960-1980 is a book by Peter Bogdanovich detailing the relationship between Bogdanovich and Dorothy Stratten, the making of They All Laughed and Stratten's murder. There is also criticism of Hugh Hefner and Playboy and its treatment of women.


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