Holly Madison

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Holly Madison
Holly Madison (24126137872).jpg
Madison in 2015
Holly Sue Cullen[1]

(1979-12-23) December 23, 1979 (age 43)
Alma materPortland State University
Loyola Marymount University
OccupationTelevision personality
Years active1998–present
Known forDown the Rabbit Hole
The Vegas Diaries
Holly's World
The Girls Next Door
Pasquale Rotella
(m. 2013; div. 2019)
PartnerHugh Hefner (2001–2008)

Holly Madison[2] (born Holly Sue Cullen; December 23, 1979) is an American television personality, best known as a former girlfriend of Hugh Hefner and for her appearance in the reality television show The Girls Next Door. She also starred in her own reality series, Holly's World, which ran from 2009 to 2011. She has released two books, Down the Rabbit Hole in 2015, about her life in the Playboy Mansion and her relationship with Hefner, and The Vegas Diaries: Romance, Rolling the Dice, and the Road to Reinvention in 2016.[3]

Early life[edit]

Madison was born Holly Sue Cullen[1] in Astoria, Oregon.[4] At age two, she moved with her family to Craig, Alaska, on Prince of Wales Island.[5] When she was in middle school, her family returned to St. Helens, Oregon. She later attended Portland State University for two years, majoring in theater and psychology.[5] Afterward, Madison moved to Los Angeles and attended Loyola Marymount University.[4]

To afford her college tuition, Madison competed to become a Hawaiian Tropic model and worked as a waitress at Hooters.[6] Her appearance at those venues led to invitations to the Playboy Mansion and, at the age of 21, after more than a year of such visits, Madison asked permission from Hugh Hefner and was eventually allowed to move in at the mansion.[7]


Relationship with Hugh Hefner and Playboy[edit]

Facing credit card debt and potential homelessness, in August 2001, Madison moved into the Playboy Mansion and officially became one of Hugh Hefner's girlfriends. Hefner controlled her finances, enforced a strict schedule and curfew, and denied her opportunities to earn income outside the mansion.[8] In February 2002, after all but two of his girlfriends left, Madison became his "#1 Girl".[4] During her time with Hefner, Madison stated that she wanted to marry him and have his children. However, in an interview at the Playmate of the Year luncheon in May 2008, Hefner said, "I love Holly very much and I think we're going to be together the rest of my life, but marriage isn't part of my puzzle. It's not a personal thing; I just haven't had much luck with marriages."[9] Reflecting on her time at the mansion, Madison has said her feelings for Hefner were attributable to Stockholm syndrome.[8]

On October 7, 2008, Madison announced that her relationship with Hefner had ended, but that she, Bridget Marquardt and Kendra Wilkinson were "still filming stuff together".[10] Hefner confirmed the breakup, saying, "If Holly says it's over, I guess it's over".[11] Madison was later among the former Playmates who spoke out in the docuseries Secrets of Playboy.[12][13]

2005–2009: The Girls Next Door[edit]

Madison with then-boyfriend Hugh Hefner in 2008

The Girls Next Door was an E! Network show following life of Madison and others at the Playboy Mansion. Although Madison was never a Playboy Playmate, Playboy published a nude pictorial of Madison with her The Girls Next Door costars in the November 2005 issue. The women were featured again on the covers of the September 2006, March 2008, and February 2009 issues. During seasons three and four, Madison was shown working at the Playboy studios as an intern and later a junior photo editor. She also helped design and put together The Girls Next Door calendars. In February 2009, with the ending of the sixth season she quit working for the company altogether due to her split from Hefner making her position "awkward".[14]

After The Girls Next Door[edit]

Dancing with the Stars[edit]

Madison was chosen to replace Jewel on Dancing with the Stars and was partnered with Dmitry Chaplin.[15][16] Madison was injured while practicing[16] and she and Chaplin were voted off.[17]

World's largest bikini parade[edit]

In May 2009, Madison and Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman led a Guinness World Record-breaking "largest bikini parade ever".[18] According to the Las Vegas Sun, "The politician and the former Playboy house bunny joined forces to usher in the city's summer swimsuit season..." in an event timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign.[18] The 281 parade participants broke the prior record of 250.[18] The mark has subsequently been eclipsed by events in the Cayman Islands (331),[19] and Brisbane, Australia (357).[19]

2009–2012: Peepshow[edit]

Madison starred in the burlesque show Peepshow at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas. She was brought in to replace Kelly Monaco after Monaco's three-month contract was up.[20] Madison was likewise initially signed to a three-month contract, but due to the show's success, it was eventually extended to a full year.[21]

2009–2011: Holly's World[edit]

Madison starred in her own reality show, Holly's World,[22] which revolved around her life at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas. "It's all good-natured and not mean like other reality shows", Madison said of her show. "I'm really excited about the new series because I am also getting a legitimate co-producer credit for all the work I do behind the camera. It's not a vanity credit. I'm super excited to learn from the best and take on new responsibilities."[23] The show premiered on December 6, 2009, and ran for two seasons.[24]

2022: Secrets of Playboy[edit]

In 2021, Madison shared in an interview some of the dark sides of the Playboy lifestyle, as further revealed in 2022 in the A&E documentary series Secrets of Playboy.[25] Madison was the subject of the show's second episode which aired in January 2022.[12] She described, among other things, the Playboy Mansion as "dangerous" and "very cult-like" and accused Hefner of manipulating her in order to advance her career and even attempting to offer her quaaludes during their first sexual encounter in the summer of 2001.[12] She also said that she was often addicted to alcohol during their relationship and that Hefner would often have photographs taken of her and his other girlfriends when they were naked after getting wasted.[12] Madison alleged this enabled him to use blackmail in order to maintain their relationship.[12] She also maintained her previous allegation that she had "Stockholm syndrome" during her relationship with Hefner as well, stating "I definitely thought I was in love with Hef but it was very Stockholm syndrome, very Stockholm syndrome."[12]


In 2015, Madison released her memoir Down the Rabbit Hole: Curious Adventures and Cautionary Tales of a Former Playboy Bunny.[26] The book details her life in the Playboy Mansion and the beginning of her recovery afterward.[27]

In May 2016, Madison released her second memoir, The Vegas Diaries: Romance, Rolling the Dice and the Road to Reinvention,[28] which also debuted on the New York Times Best Seller list.[29] The book chronicles her journey toward reinvention and self-acceptance in glamorous Las Vegas.[30]

Personal life[edit]

In 2009, Madison said, "I'm never dating anybody again. I don't need a man. I'm really happy with myself and being with my friends... I'm focused on forwarding my career. I'm working on producing my own shows. Girls Next Door was a great place to start but it was somebody else's show. I'm just ready to move on."[31]

Madison has spoken openly about her cosmetic surgeries, having had both rhinoplasty and breast augmentation. After the latter procedure, her bust measurements went from an A-cup to a D.[32] In 2011, Madison announced that she had insured her breasts for $1 million.[33]

In August 2012, Madison announced that she and Pasquale Rotella, whom she began dating in 2011, were expecting their first child.[34] Madison gave birth to their daughter in March 2013, in Las Vegas.[35] Madison and Rotella were married at Disneyland on September 10, 2013, with Bridget Marquardt as a bridesmaid, and resided in Las Vegas.[36] Madison gave birth to her second child, a son, in August 2016.[37][38] Rotella and Madison were separated as of September 25, 2018.[39] In February 2019, the divorce was finalized.[40]

In 2021, Madison revealed that she believed herself to be on the autism spectrum,[41] something her parents had long suspected. She was later formally diagnosed, a fact she confirmed when appearing as a featured guest on the podcast "Something Was Wrong".[42] The diagnosis led Madison to consider how her struggles with forming social connections may have contributed to her relationship with Hefner. "I thought to myself I've never really connected with a guy my own age, and I have a [hard] time connecting with anybody my own age, maybe I'm just like this old soul, and I'm meant to be with older people."



Year Film Role Notes
1998 The Last Broadcast Miss Lady Bright Eyes [43]
2006 Scary Movie 4 Blonde # 1
2008 The House Bunny Herself
2009 The Telling Stephanie
2015 Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! Lieutenant Harrison


Year Title Role Notes
2002 MTV Cribs Herself 1 episode
2003 The Surreal Life Herself Episode: "The Wedding and Goodbye"
Doggy Fizzle Televizzle Herself Episode: 4
2004 The Sharon Osbourne Show Herself 1 episode
The Bernie Mac Show Bunny Episode: "The Talk"
Viva La Bam Herself Episode: "Drive-Way Skate Park"
2005 Curb Your Enthusiasm Herself Season 5 Episode 6 – "The Smoking Jacket"
The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch Herself 1 episode
2005 Entourage Herself Episode: "Aquamansion"
2005–2006 The Tyra Banks Show Herself 2 episodes
2005–2009 The Girls Next Door Herself (seasons 1–5. 80 episodes)
2006 E! True Hollywood Story Herself Episode: "Hugh Hefner: Girlfriends, Wives and Centerfolds"
Amazon Fishbowl Herself 1 episode
The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson Herself Uncredited, 2 episodes
Robot Chicken Herself (Voice) Episode: "Drippy Pony"
The Ellen DeGeneres Show Herself 1 episode
2007 Keeping Up with the Kardashians Herself Episode: "Birthday Suit"
General Hospital Herself 1 episode
Phenomenon Herself Episode: Three
Last Call with Carson Daly Herself 1 episode
2008 Today Herself 1 episode
Celebrity Family Feud Herself Episode: "Vincent Pastore vs. The Girls Next Door"
Living Lohan Herself Episode: "The Billionaire Babysitters"
Chelsea Lately[44] Herself 1 episode
2009 Dancing with the Stars Contestant (Season 8, eliminated 3rd round)
2009–2010 Kendra Herself 2 episodes
2009–2011 Holly's World Herself (Seasons 1–2. 19 Episodes)
2010 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Hot Blonde Episodes: "Pool Shark"
2010 When I Was 17 Herself 1 episode
2013 "Holly Has a Baby"! Herself E! Special
2015 Redwood Kings Herself 1 episode
2021 Ghost Adventures Herself Guest[45]
2022 Secrets of Playboy Herself Docu-series; episode 2: "The Girl Next Door"
2023 The Playboy Murders Herself 4 episodes


  1. ^ a b "Holly - Las Vegas Sun Newspaper". June 18, 2009.
  2. ^ Katsilometes, John. "Holly: Dancing with the new star of Peepshow, the woman who plans to be the ultimate Miss Las Vegas". Las Vegas Weekly. Archived from the original on June 21, 2009. Retrieved June 18, 2009.
  3. ^ Cowles, Gregory (July 2, 2015). "Inside the List". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved December 9, 2015.
  4. ^ a b c "Biography". HollyMadison.com (official site). Archived from the original on April 26, 2012. Retrieved September 28, 2007.
  5. ^ a b "Interview: Holly Madison!!!". Spacecadetz.com. Archived from the original on April 27, 2009. Retrieved August 16, 2008.
  6. ^ Madison, Holly (2015). Down the Rabbit Hole: Curious Adventures and Cautionary Tales of a Former Playboy Bunny. New York, NY: HarperCollins. p. 19. ISBN 978-0-06-237210-9.
  7. ^ Madison, Holly (2015). Down the Rabbit Hole: Curious Adventures and Cautionary Tales of a Former Playboy Bunny. New York, NY: HarperCollins. pp. 42–43. ISBN 978-0-06-237210-9.
  8. ^ a b Madison, Holly (2015). Down the Rabbit Hole. HarperCollins. p. 385. ISBN 978-0062372116.
  9. ^ www.foxnews.com (May 12, 2008). "Holly Heartbroken: Hef Reveals Why She'll Never Be His Wife". Fox News. Retrieved May 12, 2008.
  10. ^ "Holly to Hugh: Hef Off". TMZ.com. October 7, 2008. Retrieved October 7, 2008.
  11. ^ Lang, Derrick J. (October 9, 2008). "Hugh Hefner opens up about Holly Madison breakup". USA Today. Associated Press. Archived from the original on November 3, 2012. Retrieved October 9, 2008.
  12. ^ a b c d e f Mizoguchi, Karen (January 24, 2022). "Holly Madison in 'Secrets of Playboy' : Ex 'Girls Next Door' Star's Biggest Bombshell Claims Against Hugh Hefner". People Magazine. Retrieved August 28, 2022.
  13. ^ Nolasco, Stephanie (August 26, 2022). "Jenny McCarthy, former Playmate, says Hugh Hefner's 'strict' Playboy Mansion 'was almost like Catholic school'". Fox News. Retrieved August 28, 2022.
  14. ^ Gibson, Cristina (February 5, 2009). "Holly Madison Quits "Awkward" Job at Playboy". E! Online. Retrieved February 5, 2009.
  15. ^ Thomson, Katherine, Holly Madison & Melissa Rycroft Join 'Dancing,' The Woz Does Worst, Huffington Post, March 10, 2009. Retrieved February 4, 2013.
  16. ^ a b Leach, Robin, Holly Madison joins injured list on Dancing With the Stars, Las Vegas Weekly, March 26, 2009. Retrieved February 4, 2013.
  17. ^ Elrick, Britteny, Dancing With The Stars: Holly Madison Talks About Elimination, Reality TV Magazine, 1 April 2009. Retrieved February 4, 2013.
  18. ^ a b c Arseniuk, Melissa "Goodman, Holly Madison welcome summer, set bikini record", Las Vegas Sun, May 14, 2009. Retrieved February 4, 2013.
  19. ^ a b Yancey, Kitty Bean, "Bikini parade in Panama City Beach sets a world record", USA Today, March 3, 2012. Retrieved February 4, 2013.
  20. ^ Gray, Mark (May 14, 2009). "Holly Madison to Replace Kelly Monaco in Sexy Vegas Show". People. Time Inc. Archived from the original on October 16, 2012. Retrieved August 21, 2009.
  21. ^ Arseniuk, Melissa (September 8, 2009). "Holly Madison to continue in 'Peepshow'". Las Vegas Sun. Retrieved December 7, 2009.
  22. ^ "Holly Madison Gets Her Own Reality Show". UsMagazine.com.
  23. ^ Chernikoff, Leah (September 24, 2009). "Playboy bunny, Holly Madison, set to start filming her own Reality TV show "Planet Holly"". New York Daily News. Archived from the original on January 31, 2010. Retrieved September 26, 2009.
  24. ^ Clarke, Norm (November 22, 2009). "NORM: Reality TV sets in for Holly Madison". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved November 23, 2009.
  25. ^ Respers France, Lisa (December 9, 2021). "Holly Madison and others explore the dark side of the Playboy lifestyle". CNN. Retrieved December 15, 2021.
  26. ^ Madison, Holly. Down the Rabbit Hole: Curious Adventures and Cautionary Tales of a Former Playboy Bunny. Dey Street Books (2015). ISBN 9780062372109.
  27. ^ Lee, Esther (March 19, 2015). "Holly Madison's Memoir "Lifts the Veil" on Days Inside the Playboy Mansion". US Weekly. Retrieved July 23, 2015. I'm excited to finally share my story and what I've learned from my personal experiences both inside and outside of the Playboy Mansion... I think my stories will surprise people and I'm looking forward to lifting the veil of mystique and clearing up the misconceptions so often associated with my life.
  28. ^ Archipelago, World. "The Vegas Diaries – Holly Madison – Hardcover". HarperCollins US. Retrieved April 26, 2016.
  29. ^ "Celebrities Books – Best Sellers – The New York Times". The New York Times. Retrieved June 17, 2016.
  30. ^ Archipelago, World. "The Vegas Diaries – Holly Madison – E-book". HarperCollins US. Retrieved May 18, 2016.
  31. ^ Gray, Mark (March 4, 2009). "Holly Madison Is Single, and Staying that Way". People. Retrieved October 7, 2010.
  32. ^ "Holly Madison: Plastic Surgery". iFitAndHealthy.com. April 12, 2007. Archived from the original on October 10, 2012. Retrieved August 16, 2008.
  33. ^ Gray, Mark (September 29, 2011). "Holly Madison Insures Her Breasts for $1 Million". People. Retrieved September 29, 2011.
  34. ^ Staff (August 29, 2012). "Holly Madison Is Pregnant With Her First Child!". Us Weekly. Retrieved February 1, 2019.
  35. ^ "Holly Madison – Celebuzz". Retrieved February 12, 2017.
  36. ^ Blumm, K.C. (September 11, 2013). "Holly Madison Marries Pasquale Rotella". People. Retrieved September 11, 2013.
  37. ^ Chen, Joyce (January 22, 2016). "Holly Madison Is Pregnant, Expecting Second Child With Husband Pasquale Rotella". Us Weekly. Retrieved February 3, 2019.
  38. ^ Heller, Corrine (August 8, 2016). "Holly Madison Gives Birth to Baby No. 2". E!. Retrieved February 3, 2019.
  39. ^ Rotella, Pasquale. "It is with love in our hearts and a deep respect for one another that Holly and I have amicably made the decision to separate. First and…". Instagram. Retrieved January 9, 2019.
  40. ^ Stone, Natalie (February 26, 2019). "Holly Madison Finalizes Divorce from Husband Pasquale Rotella After 5 Years of Marriage". People. Retrieved June 8, 2019.
  41. ^ "Holly Madison reveals she likely has Asperger's syndrome".
  42. ^ "Something Was Wrong: [Holly Madison] They're Not Bobbleheads on Apple Podcasts".
  43. ^ The Last Broadcast: Cast and Details, TV Guide website. Retrieved January 4, 2014.
  44. ^ "Chelsea Lately: Holly Madison". eonline.com.
  45. ^ Gajewski, Ryan (August 5, 2021). "Holly Madison and Bridget Marquardt Recall Their Ghost Encounters at the Playboy Mansion". eonline.com. Retrieved November 10, 2021.

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