Dorothy Stratten

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Dorothy Stratten
Dorothy Stratten 1979.jpg
Stratten in 1979
Born Dorothy Ruth Hoogstraten
(1960-02-28)February 28, 1960
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada[1]
Died August 14, 1980(1980-08-14) (aged 20)
West Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Cause of death Murder by gunshot
Resting place Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery
Nationality Canadian
Occupation Model, actress
Spouse(s) Paul Snider (m. 1979–80)
Partner(s) Peter Bogdanovich
Playboy centerfold appearance
August 1979
Preceded by Dorothy Mays
Succeeded by Vicki McCarty
Playboy Playmate of the Year
Preceded by Monique St. Pierre
Succeeded by Terri Welles
Personal details
Measurements Bust: 36 in (91 cm)[1]
Waist: 24 in (61 cm)
Hips: 36 in (91 cm)
Height 5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)[1]
Weight 123 lb (56 kg; 8.8 st)

Dorothy Ruth Hoogstraten (February 28, 1960 – August 14, 1980), who took the stage name Dorothy Stratten, was a Canadian Playboy Playmate, model, and actress. Stratten was the Playboy Playmate of the Month for August 1979, Playmate of the Year in 1980[1] and was the second Playmate (after Lee Ann Michelle) born in the 1960s. Stratten appeared in three comedy films and in at least two episodes of shows broadcast on US network television. She was murdered at the age of 20 by her estranged husband/manager Paul Snider, who committed suicide on the same day. Her death inspired two motion pictures.[2]

Life and career[edit]

Stratten was born in Grace Maternity Hospital in Vancouver, British Columbia, to Simon and Nelly Hoogstraten, who were Dutch immigrants.[3] In 1961, her brother John Arthur was born. Her sister Louise Stratten followed in May 1968.

In 1977, she was attending Centennial High School in Coquitlam, B.C., when, while working part-time at a local Dairy Queen, she met 26-year-old Vancouver-area club promoter and pimp, Paul Snider, who romanced her. Snider later had a photographer take professional nude photos of her which were sent to Playboy magazine in the summer of 1978. She was under the age of 19 at the time, which is the legal age to pose nude in Canada, so she had to persuade her mother to sign the model release form.[3]

In August 1978, she moved to Los Angeles, where she was chosen as a finalist for the 25th Anniversary Great Playmate Hunt.[3] Snider joined her in October, and in June the following year, they married. With her surname shortened to Stratten, she became Playboy's Miss August 1979, and began working as a bunny at the Playboy Club in Century City, Los Angeles.[3] Hugh Hefner had high hopes Stratten could have meaningful crossover success as an actress.[3] She guest-starred in episodes of the television series Buck Rogers and Fantasy Island, along with small roles in 1979 in Americathon and the roller disco comedy Skatetown, U.S.A.

In 1980, she became Playboy's Playmate of the Year, with photography by Mario Casilli. Stratten also played the title role in the sci-fi parody Galaxina, her first and only starring role.

Hefner reportedly encouraged Stratten to sever ties with Snider, calling him a "hustler and a pimp".[3] Rosanne Katon and other friends warned Stratten about Snider's behavior. Stratten began an affair with Peter Bogdanovich while he was directing They All Laughed, her first major studio film.[3] Snider hired a private investigator to follow Stratten. They separated and Stratten moved in with Bogdanovich, planning to file for a divorce from Snider. By August 1980, Snider most likely believed that he had lost Stratten and what he had called his "rocket to the moon".[3]


Dorothy Stratten's grave

Shortly after noon on August 14, 1980, Snider and Stratten met at Snider's house, where the two had once lived as a couple, and which Snider was by then sharing with its owner, their mutual friend, Dr. Stephen Cushner. Stratten had gone there to talk about an amicable divorce and took along $1,000 to give to Snider.[3]

Dorothy was to pick up her sister Louise after seeing Snider and never showed, which was very unlike her. Around 11 pm, Snider's private investigator called Cushner on his private line, saying that he had been trying to call Snider for several hours, but Snider was not answering. Although there were many guests in the residence, Snider's bedroom door was closed and they assumed Snider's privacy was essential. Cushner broke into Snider's room and discovered the nude bodies of Snider and Stratten, both having been shot with a Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun. Police determined that Snider murdered Stratten, who was 20, then abused and raped her corpse, before turning the shotgun on himself. Dorothy's body was found connected to an odd, homemade sexual contraption and both bodies were covered with ants. [3][4]

Stratten was cremated and her ashes were buried at Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles.


Stratten's murder was depicted in two films. In Death of a Centerfold: The Dorothy Stratten Story (1981), Jamie Lee Curtis portrayed Stratten and Bruce Weitz played Paul Snider. Bob Fosse's feature film, Star 80 (1983), starred Mariel Hemingway[2] as Stratten and Eric Roberts as Snider.

In 1983, film critic Vincent Canby wrote, "Miss Stratten possessed a charming screen presence and might possibly have become a first-rate comedienne with time and work."[2]

Singer Bryan Adams' 1983 single "The Best Was Yet to Come" was dedicated to Dorothy Stratten.

In 1984, Peter Bogdanovich's book about Stratten was published, titled The Killing of the Unicorn.[5] Four years later, at age 49, Bogdanovich married Stratten's sister, Louise, who was 20. Bogdanovich had paid for Louise's private schooling and modeling classes following Stratten's death.[5] They divorced in 2001 after being married for 13 years.

British band Bush dedicated the song "Dead Meat" on their album The Science of Things to Stratten.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Playmate data". Retrieved January 29, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c Canby, Vincent (November 10, 1983). "SCREEN: 'STAR 80,' A SEX-SYMBOL'S LIFE AND DEATH". The New York Times. Retrieved July 22, 2008. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Carpenter, Theresa (November 5, 1980). "Death of a Playmate" (PDF). The Village Voice. Retrieved July 22, 2008. 
  4. ^ Biskind, Peter (1998). Easy Riders Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-and Rock 'N Roll Generation Saved Hollywood. Simon & Schuster. pp. 388, 389. ISBN 0-684-80996-6. 
  5. ^ a b Nashawaty, Chris (August 12, 1994). "The Centerfold Murder: Playmate Dorothy Stratten is found murdered". Entertainment Weekly. 
  6. ^ "GAVIN ROSSDALE on Twitter". Retrieved 3 March 2017. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Yule, Andrew. Picture Shows: the Life and Films of Peter Bogdanovich - Has extensive coverage of Stratten's relationships with Paul Snider and Peter Bogdonovich.

External links[edit]