Death of a Centerfold: The Dorothy Stratten Story

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Death of a Centerfold: The Dorothy Stratten Story
Death of a Centerfold The Dorothy Stratten Story.jpg
Jamie Lee Curtis as Dorothy Stratten
Written byDonald L. Stewart
Directed byGabrielle Beaumont
StarringJamie Lee Curtis
Bruce Weitz
Robert Reed
Theme music composerRoger Webb
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
Executive producer(s)Larry Wilcox
Producer(s)Paul Pompian
Tim King
CinematographyEmil Oster
Editor(s)Morton Tubor
Running time100 minutes
Production company(s)Wilcox Productions
MGM Television
Original networkNBC
Original releaseNovember 1, 1981

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.[1] It is a dramatization of the life and the murder of Playboy Playmate of the Year Dorothy Stratten, played by Jamie Lee Curtis.[1] The movie was aired on NBC on November 1, 1981.[2] Two years later the same story was developed by director Bob Fosse in his movie Star 80, starring Mariel Hemingway and Eric Roberts.


A depiction of the life and times of an up and coming model and actress, Dorothy Stratten, a 20-year-old playboy playmate, whose life is tragically cut short when she becomes involved with and marries a shady man, Paul Snider, who later kills her in a murder–suicide.



The TV Production was optioned and owned by Larry Wilcox of CHIPS fame and then he negotiated a deal with MGM and NBC as a MOW. The Feature film was as revealed by Peter Bogdanovich in his book The Killing of the Unicorn, at the family's insistence, the names and relationships of her mother and sister were altered.[2]


The New York Times critic John J. O'Connor praised the movie, saying: "the movie works remarkably well in building a dramatic momentum. Jamie Lee Curtis's Dorothy is a thoroughly understandable, if not sympathetic figure. And Bruce Weitz is extraordinary".[3] People magazine also praised the film, saying: "Jamie Lee Curtis is just right as Stratten, and Bruce Weitz is a standout as her ex".[4] Movie critic Leonard Maltin described the film as "exploitative".[1]

Death of a Centerfold: The Dorothy Stratten Story aired on NBC and finished 27th in the Neilsen ratings. When the film was broadcast a second time on NBC in July 1983, it fared better by finishing 4th in the ratings.[2][5]


The movie was first issued on VHS on September 1, 1998. It was later released on January 25, 2010 on DVD.


  1. ^ a b c Maltin, Leonard (1997). Leonard Maltin's 1998 Movie and Video Guide. Signet Books. p. 322. ISBN 0-451-19288-5.
  2. ^ a b c Peter Bogdanovich (1984). The killing of the unicorn: Dorothy Stratten (1960-1980). W. Morrow. p. 169. ISBN 0-688-01611-1.
  3. ^ John J. O'Connor (October 30, 1981). "TV WEEKEND; TERROR IN FICTION AND FACT". New York Times. Retrieved 20 November 2011.
  4. ^ People November 2, 1981 Vol. 16 No. 18 page 6 "Picks & Pans Tube"
  5. ^ (3 August 1983). NBC squeezed into the No. 1 spot for network..., UPI (Nielsen ratings for July 1983 airing)

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