Reel Reviews

The Death of Playboy Playmate Dorothy Stratten

Dorothy StrattenDorothy Stratten was born in Vancouver, British Columbia as Dorothy Hoogstratten. When barely 17, she was spotted working in a Canadian Dairy Queen fast-food restaurant by shady "entrepreneur" Paul Snider, nine years her elder. Snider saw the beautiful girl's face and knew immediately he could turn her into a star. Turns out he was right. But unfortunately for Dorothy, he was right.

After beginning a relationship with the young blonde, Snider finally convinced her that she would be great as a Playboy model and that she could become rich and famous if she could get comfortable taking her clothes off for the camera. At first, the shy girl-next-door shrugged off the notion, but Snider, the greasy devil he was, finally convinced her to pose for his camera. After amassing a small personal collection of nude photos of Dorothy, Snider then sent them to Playboy Magazine in Los Angeles, specifically to the home of Hugh Hefner. Heffy like-y and after only two days of ogling her shots, called for the young Hoogstratten. Snider's plan was now set in motion, and unbeknownst to her, Dorothy's life was on a collision course with danger.

In seemingly no time at all, Dorothy, after changing her surname to Stratten, became quite the hot ticket around 'ol Hef's mansion. This didn't set too well with Snider however and he soon decided he wanted a piece of the action, since he was, after all, the one that sent Dorothy's pics to Hefner in the first place. Snider would introduce himself to Hefner as Dorothy's manager, but the magazine magnate could see right through Snider's oily facade and came to loathe the guy.

Meanwhile, Dorothy's fame was soaring ever higher and higher. Her photo shoot at Playboy was a hit and she would eventually go on become the October '79 Playboy Playmate and word around the mansion was that she was being mentioned as becoming the Playmate of the Year and perhaps even the Playmate of the Quarter-Century. <--what exactly is that?

Paul SniderBut Snider was feeling left behind.

As Dorothy's star grew brighter and brighter, Hefner decided to introduce her to some of the bigwigs of Hollywood's upper-crust, including filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich who was once a director of such huge movie hits as Paper Moon, What's Up, Doc?, and The Last Picture Show. And wouldn't you know it, Bogdanovich had just conveniently terminated a rocky relationship with another young, blonde aspiring actress, Cybill Shepherd who we all know was in Bogdanovich's The Last Picture Show and eventually went on to to TV stardom with Bruce Willis in the popular ABC sit-com, Moonlighting.

Stratten and Bogdanovich would eventually become quite the item. He decided she was ready to hit it big in show business and that he was ready to give her a plum role. After all, she had already taken a bit role in Galaxina as a sexy robot. Bogdanovich wanted the world to see that his new girlfriend was more than just a sexy bimbo with big boobs.

Meanwhile, Snider was absolutely turning green with jealousy. He still believed he was responsible for Dorothy's success and that he should also be recognized. But Dorothy was ready to move on from Snider and everyone was encouraging her to do so. But being the nice girl-next-door she was, it was hard for Dorothy, After all, she had actually married Snider earlier just to get him off of her back. Nice logic.

In August in 1980, Dorothy decided to meet with Snider one last time, so she could end this thing for good. She agreed to meet Paul at his apartment where the couple had once lived together. Dorothy traveled all the way from New York, where she was in the middle of filming They All Laughed, directed by none other than Peter Bogdanovich.

Stratten- Clarkson RoadThe next day, Snider's flat-mates had not heard a peep from the love birds. Finally, a neighbor, becoming concerned, decided to check in on them.

What that neighbor saw was horrifying. Lying in a face down position on the bed was Dorothy Stratten's nude body, covered entirely in blood, including bloody handprints across her bottom. A sizable clump of hair had been torn from her head and was clenched in Snider's hand. Her left pinkie finger was detached and missing. Oh, and one more thing - so was her entire face.

Next to Dorothy's bloody corpse was what was left of Snider's body. He had a gunshot between the eyes (which had left quite a gaping hole) and one of his eyes was dangling out of the socket. Naturally, his body was also nude. Would you think more highly of the guy if it weren't?

Both Dorothy and Snider were covered in a swarm of ants.

Dorothy StrattenOne interesting thing that couldn't be explained at first was some strange mechanical device in the bedroom. Home-made looking. The coroner's office could only surmise that it was some kind of kinky "love contraption," or sex bench. It was later discovered by authorities that Snider had converted a weight bench into a sex device and hoped to eventually market it to the porn industry. Naturally, that too was a failure.

Though not confirmed by the coroner's office, many knowledgeable experts on the Stratten case speculate that Snider killed Stratten in the bedroom, strapped her lifeless body to the bench, then proceeded to have sex with her corpse for the next half hour or so. Once done with her, he tossed her lifeless body onto the bed and killed himself.

Dorothy Stratten was dead at 20.

In a sick twist that could only come from Hollywood, Peter Bogdanovich would eventually marry Dorothy's younger sister, Louise. But they separated in 2001 and would eventually divorce.

There have been two movies made about the tragic life and death of Dorothy Stratten: Death of A Centerfold which starred Jamie Lee Curtis as Stratten; and Star 80 which featured Mariel Hemingway as Stratten and Eric Roberts as Snider. Star 80's climatic murder scene was shot in the actual apartment where the real murder/suicide took place. We recommend this latter film.


Dorothy Stratten Sites:

Tribute site to Dorothy Stratten - Go here
Dorothy Stratten Fansite - Go here
More on Dorothy Stratten's death - Go here

 

More Dorothy Stratten Stuff:

List of Dorothy's movies:
1 They All Laughed (1981)
2 Galaxina (1980)
3 Buck Rogers in the 25th Century - Cruise Ship to the Stars - TV (1979)
4 "Fantasy Island" - The Victim/The Mermaid - TV(1979)
5 Skatetown, U.S.A. (1979)
6 Americathon (1979)
7 Autumn Born (1979)

Dorothy's Official Measurements:
36-26-36 (Source: Celebrity Sleuth magazine)

The house at 10881 W.   Clarkson Rd. Los Angeles, CA, where Dorothy Stratten was killed.

The house at 10881 W. Clarkson Rd. Los Angeles, CA, where Dorothy Stratten was killed.

 

Dorothy Stratten's Grave
Dorothy Stratten's gravesite at Westwood Memorial Park in Los Angeles CA. - Photo courtesy of A.J. Marik from findagrave.com.

 

Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun. Possibly like the one to kill Dorothy.
Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun. Similar to the one used to kill Dorothy.

 

Movie poster for Star 80 starring Mariel Hemingway.
Movie poster for Star 80 starring Mariel Hemingway.

 

Centennial High School
Aerial photograph of Centennial High School where Dorothy attended high school near Vancouver, British Columbia.

 

Rare April 16, 1980 interview of Dorothy Stratten on Johnny Carson's The Tonight Show. Stratten would be dead just four short months later.

 

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