Dorothy Stratten’s story was brief, glorious and tragic. She was born Dorothy Ruth Hoogstraten on February 28, 1960 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. She grew up in a rough neighborhood in Vancouver, but kept out of trouble and went through the motions of school. While not a beauty as a child, nor early teen, Stratten came into her own out of high school and attracted the attention of Paul Snider, a promoter and wannabe star. He started dating her and after seeing an advertisement for Playboy’s 25th Anniversary Playmate search in 1978, convinced her to pose for photos. Playboy saw the potential in Stratten and flew her out to Los Angeles, California, where she became a candidate. Although she lost out to Candy Loving, Stratten was made a Playmate in the August 1979 issue of Playboy. Soon after, she was pressured into marrying Snider, who had a Svengali-like influence on her.
After her centerfold came out, Stratten found work in a few movies, notably Americathon (1979) and Skatetown, U.S.A. (1979), as well as being the object of Richard Dawson’s affection in an ABC-TV special shot at the Playboy mansion. Clearly, her star was on the rise. In 1980, it was revealed that Stratten would be tabbed as the Playmate of the Year by Playboy publisher and founder Hugh Hefner. While this was one of the crowning achievements of her career, things were not going well in her marriage to Snider. He bothered her on the set of the movie Galaxina (1980) and when Snider found out she was developing more than a friendly relationship with director Peter Bogdanovich, Snider grew increasingly frustrated.
After a separation, Snider bought a shotgun and talked Stratten into coming to the apartment they used to share in West Los Angeles. Snider tied her up, sexually assaulted her and put the shotgun next to her face and pulled the trigger. Snider then turned the shotgun on himself to complete the murder-suicide. Since her death, Stratten has become something of a minor cult fixture, and has had two (one a television) movies, a song, and a couple of books written about her. The last movie she was in, They All Laughed (1981), was released after her death.
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