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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 twelve Playmates of the Month is named Playmate of the Year (PMOY). Currently, Playmates of the Month are paid US$25,000 and Playmates of the Year receive an additional US$100,000 plus a car and a motorcycle. In addition, Anniversary Playmates are usually chosen to celebrate a milestone year of the magazine.
Playboy encourages potential Playmates to send photos with "girl next door" appeal for consideration; others may submit photos of Playmate candidates, and may be eligible for a finder's fee if their model is selected. In addition, "casting calls" are held regularly in major US cities to offer opportunities for women to test for Playboy. The Playboy photographers and Hugh Hefner then select which models become Playmates. The Playmate of the Year is chosen personally by Hugh Hefner, taking into account an annual readers' poll.
According to Playboy, there is no such thing as a former Playmate because “Once a Playmate, always a Playmate”.
Marilyn Monroe, who was featured in the first issue, was the only one to appear as "Sweetheart of the Month". The first model called a Playmate of the Month was Margie Harrison, Miss January 1954, in the second issue of Playboy. Generally a woman may only appear once as a Playmate, but in the early years of the magazine, some models were featured multiple times. Marilyn Waltz (February 1954, April 1954, April 1955 — her first appearance was as Margaret Scott) and Janet Pilgrim (July 1955, December 1955, and October 1956) are tied for the most appearances. Margie Harrison (January 1954, June 1954) and Marguerite Empey (May 1955, February 1956) are the only other women to appear more than once as Playmates.
Under current law in most US jurisdictions, publishing nude pictures of a model younger than 18 would be a felony. However, in the early years of the magazine, laws regarding corruption of a minor were less well established. Several playmates — including Nancy Crawford (April 1959), Donna Michelle (December 1963), Linda Moon (October 1966), Patti Reynolds (September 1965) and Teddi Smith (July 1960) – posed when they were seventeen. Elizabeth Ann Roberts (January 1958) – whose pictorial was called "Schoolmate Playmate" – posed when she was sixteen. Hugh Hefner and Roberts' mother were arrested as a result, but the case was subsequently dismissed because Roberts' mother had signed a statement that her daughter was eighteen before the photo shoot. In more recent years, Ursula Buchfellner posed for the German edition of Playboy when she was sixteen and subsequently posed for the American edition (October 1979) when she was eighteen. Gina Goldberg (May 1981), after emigrating from Finland, lied about her age and said she was 21 when she was really seventeen when she posed. Dutch Playmate twins Karin and Mirjam van Breeschooten appeared at age seventeen in their country's edition of Playboy in June 1988, at eighteen, they were Misses September 1989 in the US version. The youngest – i.e. last born – Playmate, as of December 2012 is Amanda Streich, born May 26, 1993.
Though most Playmates appear around an average age of 22, there are some women who became Playmates in their 30's. Dolores Donlon (August 1957), Janis Schmitt (February 1978), Eloise Broady (April 1988), Gillian Bonner (April 1996) and Tiffany Fallon (December 2004 and PMOY 2005) had turned 30 just before their Playmatehood. Bettie Page (January 1955), Susie Owens (March 1988), Arlene Baxter (December 1993) and Jaime Faith Edmondson (January 2010) were 31. Miss May 1985 Kathy Shower was a Playmate at 32, and at 33 became the oldest PMOY so far. Cindy Brooks (April 1985) and Julianna Young (November 1993) were aged 33. Since January 2003 Rebecca Anne Ramos is the oldest Playmate to date, appearing at the age of 35.
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- First Playmate: Margie Harrison (Miss January 1954) in the second issue of Playboy. Marilyn Monroe, who was featured in the first issue, was the only one to appear as "Sweetheart of the Month".
- First Playmate to be chosen three times: Marilyn Waltz (Miss February 1954, April 1954, and April 1955 — her first appearance was as Margaret Scott)
- First and only month in Playboy history to not have a Playmate — March 1955 (no issue published)
- First centerfold (two-page): Janet Pilgrim (Miss July 1955)
- First fold-out centerfold (three-page): Marian Stafford (Miss March 1956)
- First foreign-born Playmate: Marion Scott (Miss May 1956) was born in Germany.
- First Playmate who was not an American citizen: Elsa Sorensen (Miss September 1956) was a citizen of Denmark.
- Youngest Playmate ever featured: Elizabeth Ann Roberts (Miss January 1958) appeared at age 16.
- First Playmate twosome (two in the same month): Pat Sheehan and Mara Corday (Misses October 1958)
- First Playmate to fill out a Playmate Data Sheet (not included): Marianne Gaba (Miss September 1959)
- First Playmate to become Playmate of the Year (1960): Ellen Stratton (Miss December 1959)
- First Playmate to have died: Tonya Crews (Miss March 1961) died in an automobile accident on Aug 7, 1966. (This again discounts Marilyn Monroe, who died in 1962, but was billed in her Playboy appearance as "Sweetheart of the Month", not as a Playmate.)
- First foreign-born PMOY: Christa Speck (Miss September 1961) was born August 1, 1942 in Danzig.
- First Canadian Playmate in US Playboy: Pamela Anne Gordon (Miss March 1962)
- First Asian-American Playmate: China Lee (Miss August 1964)
- First Dutch Playmate in US Playboy: Astrid Schultz (Miss September 1964)
- First African-American Playmate: Jennifer Jackson (Miss March 1965)
- First Playmate to get breast implants: Sue Williams (Miss April 1965)
- First Playmate under 5 feet tall: Sue Williams (Miss April 1965) was 4' 11".
- First Playmate to commit suicide: Sue Williams committed suicide on September 2, 1969.
- First twins to be Playmates: Mary Collinson and Madeleine Collinson (Misses October 1970)
- First Playmate to show clearly visible pubic hair: Liv Lindeland (Miss January 1971)
- First Playmate to pose for a full frontal nude centerfold: Marilyn Cole (Miss January 1972)
- First Playmate to pose for a full frontal nude centerfold with clearly visible entire pubic hair: Bonnie Large (Miss March 1973)
- First Playmate to be younger than Playboy: Monica Tidwell (Miss November 1973) was born in January 1954, when Playboy's second issue was on the newsstand.
- First and only Playmate to have a double-sided, front-and-back centerfold: Nancy Cameron (Miss January 1974) was the 20th anniversary Playmate.
- First Hispanic-American Playmate: Ester Cordet (Miss October 1974) was from Panama
- First Playmate with signed centerfold: Jill De Vries (Miss October 1975)
- First sisters to be Playmates in different months: Janice Pennington (Miss May 1971) and Ann Pennington (Miss March 1976)
- First Playmate Data Sheet (included): Sondra Theodore (Miss July 1977)
- First video Playmate (1982): Lonny Chin was also the magazine centerfold in the January 1983 issue.
- First mother and daughter to be Playmates: Carol Eden (Miss December 1960) and her daughter Simone Eden (Miss February 1989)
- First Playmate to become a LGBT spokesmodel and advocate in the LGBT community: Stephanie Adams (Miss November 1992)
- First Playmate with visible tattoo on centerfold: Jennifer LeRoy (Miss February 1993)
- First Playmate with visible navel piercing on centerfold: Gillian Bonner (Miss April 1996)
- First Playmate of the Month to be a Penthouse Pet of the Month (October 2000) as well: Linn Thomas (Miss May 1997)
- First triplets to be Playmates: Erica, Nicole and Jaclyn Dahm (Misses December 1998)
- First Playmate without pubic hair: Dalene Kurtis (Miss September 2001)
- First Playboy Cyber Girl to become Playmate: Stephanie Heinrich (Miss October 2001) is the first Cyber Girl of the Week (September 2000), as well as the first Cyber Girl of the Month (January 2001).
- First Playmate to have been Miss USA (1995): Shanna Moakler (Miss December 2001)
Playmate of the Year
In the early days of Playboy, there was no official prize for the most popular Playmate at the end of each year. Although February 1954 Playmate Marilyn Waltz gained much popularity, receiving more fan mail than any other Playmate that year, she was not crowned PMOY. Neither was December 1956 Playmate Lisa Winters who was named Playmate of the Year, and although Joyce Nizzari, Miss December 1958, was named the "most popular" Playmate of 1958, the PMOY competition was first officially won in 1960 by Miss December 1959, Ellen Stratton. The 2009 PMOY, Ida Ljungqvist, was the 50th PMOY and the second model of African descent to win the title, the first being Renee Tenison.
A PMOY makes her appearance the year following her first appearance as PMOM. This feature is usually published in the June issue, although sometimes it has been published in the May or July issue. Until 2003, each year's Playmate of the Year would routinely appear on the cover of her PMOY issue, in which her PMOY pictorial is featured. However, from 2003 to 2005, PMOYs did not appear on the covers of their PMOY issues, and 2007 PMOY Sara Jean Underwood did not either. Instead, celebrities appearing in celebrity pictorials in the PMOY issues appeared on the covers. The 2010 PMOY, Hope Dworaczyk, did appear on the cover, and was the first model to be the subject of a three-dimensional Playboy centerfold photograph.
The average age of a Playmate of the Year, 23.5 years, is slightly higher than that of a Playmate of the Month, 22.4 years. In 1964, at the age of 18, Donna Michelle became the youngest PMOY ever. Jo Collins (1965) and Christa Speck (1962) both were 19. Sharon Clark (1971), Karen McDougal (1998) and Ida Ljungqvist (2009) became PMOY at the age of 27. Only two women became PMOY in their 30s: Tiffany Fallon (2005) at 31, and Kathy Shower (1986) at 33.
- 60th Anniversary (January 2014): Roos van Montfort
- 55th Anniversary (January 2009): Dasha Astafieva
- 50th Anniversary (January 2004): Colleen Shannon
- 45th Anniversary (January 1999): Jaime Bergman
- 40th Anniversary (January 1994): Anna-Marie Goddard
- 35th Anniversary (January 1989): Fawna MacLaren
- 30th Anniversary (January 1984): Penny Baker
- 25th Anniversary (January 1979): Candy Loving
- 20th Anniversary (January 1974): Nancy Cameron
- 15th Anniversary (January 1969): Leslie Bianchini
- 10th Anniversary (December 1963): Donna Michelle
- 5th Anniversary (December 1958): Joyce Nizzari
Playmates who became known for more than their Playboy appearance(s) include (with the date of their appearance):
- Pamela Anderson (February 1990), actress
- Lynne Austin (July 1986), original spokesmodel for Hooters
- Marina Baker (March 1987), journalist, children's book author, mayor of Telscombe, East Sussex, England
- Bebe Buell (November 1974), author and mother of Liv Tyler
- Kayla Collins (August 2008), fashion designer with own swimsuit range and founder of The Dollhouse Project.
- Carmella DeCesare (April 2003), World Wrestling Entertainment's (WWE) RAW Diva Search 2004
- Lisa Dergan (July 1998), spokesmodel for St. Pauli Girl and Guess? Jeans; also Fox Sports correspondent.
- Donna D'Errico (September 1995), actress
- Daphnée Duplaix (July 1997), actress
- Hope Dworaczyk (April 2009), television host and contestant on Celebrity Apprentice
- Jaime Faith Edmondson (January 2010), former police officer, Miami Dolphins cheerleader, and runner-up in The Amazing Race 14
- Erika Eleniak (July 1989), actress
- Lindsey Gayle Evans (October 2009), Miss Louisiana Teen USA 2008
- Tiffany Fallon (December 2004), Miss Georgia USA 2001, model, actress and Celebrity Apprentice contestant.
- Victoria Fuller (January 1996), contestant on The Amazing Race 6
- Lauren Michelle Hill (February 2001), winner of the Playmates edition of Fear Factor, Guess? model
- Claudia Jennings (November 1969), actress
- Scarlett Keegan (September 2004), former child model, international print model, actress – minor roles include: Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, HBO's Entourage, and Weezer's "Beverly Hills" music video.
- Connie Kreski (January 1968), actress
- Pilar Lastra (August 2004), briefcase model on Deal or No Deal
- Angela Little (August 1998), actress
- Jayne Mansfield (February 1955), singer and actress
- Jenny McCarthy (October 1993), actress, author, comedienne; MTV's Singled Out
- Julie McCullough (February 1986), actress – played nanny "Julie Costello" on several episodes of Growing Pains until she was fired for having posed nude in Playboy
- Karen McDougal (December 1997), fitness model; appeared in XFL cheerleader commercials in 2000
- Shanna Moakler (December 2001), Miss USA 1995, ex-wife of Travis Barker, and co-star of reality TV show Meet the Barkers
- Kara Monaco (June 2006), Big Brother 14 contestant.
- Kelly Marie Monaco (April 1997), Emmy-nominated actress, winner of Dancing with the Stars reality show in 2005 long running actress of General Hospital
- Marilyn Monroe (December 1953), actress, model, and singer
- Cynthia Myers (December 1968), actress
- Bettie Page (January 1955), noted pin-up and bondage model
- Janice Pennington (May 1971), model on The Price Is Right
- Brande Roderick (April 2000), actress and Celebrity Apprentice contestant.
- Nikki Schieler (September 1997), actress
- Anna Nicole Smith (May 1992), Guess? jeans model, actress, and widow of an octogenarian businessman. The lawsuit over his inheritance reached the U.S. Supreme Court.
- Victoria Silvstedt (December 1996), Swedish supermodel, actress, radio and TV hostess, published singer, and a former national-level skier in Sweden
- Martha Smith (July 1973), actress
- Stella Stevens (January 1960), actress
- Dorothy Stratten (August 1979), actress whose life and murder were portrayed in Star 80 (1983) and in Death of a Centerfold: The Dorothy Stratten Story (1981)
- Jeana Tomasino ("Jeana Keough") (November 1980), actress, model, original cast member of The Real Housewives of Orange County, and client on Thintervention with Jackie Warner
- Shannon Tweed (November 1981), actress co-star of reality-TV show Gene Simmons Family Jewels
- Roberta Vasquez (November 1984), actress
- Petra Verkaik (December 1989), actress
- Jennifer Walcott (August 2001), actress
- Tamara Witmer (August 2005), briefcase model on Deal or No Deal, contestant on VH1's Rock of Love with Bret Michaels
- Teri Weigel (April 1986), adult movie performer
- Cara Zavaleta (November 2004), appeared on MTV reality show Road Rules prior to Playmate appearance
- Victoria Zdrok (October 1994), attorney, clinical psychologist, sex therapist; second model to appear as centerfold for both Playboy and Penthouse
- List of people in Playboy 1953–1959
- List of people in Playboy 1960–1969
- List of people in Playboy 1970–1979
- List of people in Playboy 1980–1989
- List of people in Playboy 1990–1999
- List of people in Playboy 2000–2009
- List of people in Playboy 2010–2019
- List of Playboy Playmates by birthplace
- List of Playboy Playmates of the Month
- List of Playboy videos
- List of Playmates of the Year
- Playboy lists
- Playboy.com: Playmate Milestones
- Acocella, Joan (2006-03-20). "The Girls Next Door". The New Yorker. p. 144. Retrieved 2006-06-06.
- "Information and Questions Regarding Playboy Magazine and Naked Playboy Models".
- Playboy.com: Elsa Sorensen
- David Carson. "Dead Playboy Playmates - Who's Alive and Who's Dead". Wa-wd.com. Retrieved 2013-09-18.
- "Caskets On Parade ... Cumulative Database ... Still Alive: "N"". Retrieved 2007-02-22.
- "Playmates over the Years — Age at Playmate of the Year".
- Edgren, Gretchen (1996). The Playmate Book: Five Decades of Centerfolds. Santa Monica, California: General Publishing Group. ISBN 1-57544-128-4.
- Edgren, Gretchen; Hugh M. Hefner (2005). The Playmate Book: Six Decades of Centerfolds. Taschen Books. ISBN 3-8228-4824-7.
- Media related to Playboy Playmates at Wikimedia Commons
- Playboy.com Playmate Directory
- Playboy.com Playmates FAQ
- Playboy UK Playmates
- Playmate database
- Playmate Portrait Archive The PMPA is a permanent collection of autographed official Playmate promotional stills. Updated frequently.
- Playmate statistics
- [dead link] Playmates of the Year – Measurements of all the PMOY's since 1960
- Girls of Playboy