Dorothy Stratten Death (February 28, 1960 - August 14, 1980)

Dorothy was born on Feb. 28, 1960 Vancouver, British Columbia as Dorothy Hoogstratten. When she was just 3, her father abandoned the family, which at the time consisted of Stratton, her mother, Nelly, and a younger brother, John Arthur. The mother remarried and had another daughter, Louise. The union didn’t last long and ended in divorce.

Teenage Stratten didn’t seem destined for magazine goddess fame. She was awkward, fretted about being plain and having “big hands,” and passed her time writing poems, often about loneliness and death.

Stratten started working at the Canadian Dairy Queen when she was 14 and stayed there for years. When barely 17, she was spotted working in the restaurant by shady "entrepreneur" Paul Snider, nine years her elder. Snider saw the beautiful girl's face and knew immediately he could turn her into a star. Turns out he was right. But unfortunately for Dorothy, he was right.

Snider had also grown up in Vancouver. After failing in legitimate jobs, he became a pimp, playing the role perfectly in a mink and black Corvette, wrote Teresa Carpenter in a Pulitzer Prize-winning article on the case that ran in the Village Voice in 1980.

For a time, Snider continued to try to earn his keep in the world’s oldest profession in Los Angeles, tooling around in a gold limousine. When he finally realized he wouldn’t make it as a flesh peddler, he headed back north, stepped into the Dairy Queen, and began wooing the wholesome beauty behind the counter.

Then, in a move that might seem bizarre for a young man in love, he hired a photographer to take nudes of his new girlfriend and shipped them off to Playboy.

After beginning a relationship with the young blonde, Snider finally convinced her that she would be great as a Playboy model and that she could become rich and famous if she could get comfortable taking her clothes off for the camera. At first, the shy girl-next-door shrugged off the notion, but Snider, the greasy devil he was, finally convinced her to pose for his camera. After amassing a small personal collection of nude photos of Dorothy, Snider then sent them to Playboy Magazine in Los Angeles, specifically to the home of Hugh Hefner. Heffy like-y and after only two days of ogling her shots, called for the young Hoogstratten. Snider's plan was now set in motion, and unbeknownst to her, Dorothy's life was on a collision course with danger.

In seemingly no time at all, Dorothy, after changing her surname to Stratten, became quite the hot ticket around 'ol Hef's mansion. This didn't set too well with Snider however and he soon decided he wanted a piece of the action, since he was, after all, the one that sent Dorothy's pics to Hefner in the first place. Snider would introduce himself to Hefner as Dorothy's manager, but the magazine magnate could see right through Snider's oily facade and came to loathe the guy.

Meanwhile, Dorothy's fame was soaring ever higher and higher. Her photo shoot at Playboy was a hit and she would eventually go on become the October '79 Playboy Playmate and word around the mansion was that she was being mentioned as becoming the Playmate of the Year and perhaps even the Playmate of the Quarter-Century.

Paul SniderBut Snider was feeling left behind.

As Dorothy's star grew brighter and brighter, Hefner decided to introduce her to some of the bigwigs of Hollywood's upper-crust, including filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich who was once a director of such huge movie hits as Paper Moon, What's Up, Doc?, and The Last Picture Show. And wouldn't you know it, Bogdanovich had just conveniently terminated a rocky relationship with another young, blonde aspiring actress, Cybill Shepherd who we all know was in Bogdanovich's The Last Picture Show and eventually went on to to TV stardom with Bruce Willis in the popular ABC sit-com, Moonlighting.

Stratten and Bogdanovich would eventually become quite the item. He decided she was ready to hit it big in show business and that he was ready to give her a plum role. After all, she had already taken a bit role in Galaxina as a sexy robot. Bogdanovich wanted the world to see that his new girlfriend was more than just a sexy bimbo with big boobs.

In January 1980, Stratten returned to the pages of Playboy as the Playmate of the Year and was cast in a film more than a cut above her previous jobs. “They All Laughed” starred Audrey Hepburn and Ben Gazzara, and was directed by Peter Bogdanovich.

 “I could hardly believe that she existed, that she wasn’t a dream,” Bogdanovich would later write in “The Killing of the Unicorn.”

They began a romance during filming in New York in the spring of 1980. By the time Stratten returned to Los Angeles, she was ready to close the chapter on her first marriage — and Snider already had another tall pretty blonde he was living with and grooming for stardom.

The estranged couple agreed to meet on Aug. 14, 1980. Stratten thought it was to work out the details of their split. But Snider had other plans.

The director, who was about twice her age, fell hard for Stratten, immediately.

Meanwhile, Snider was absolutely turning green with jealousy. He still believed he was responsible for Dorothy's success and that he should also be recognized. But Dorothy was ready to move on from Snider and everyone was encouraging her to do so. But being the nice girl-next-door she was, it was hard for Dorothy, After all, she had actually married Snider earlier just to get him off of her back. Nice logic.

In August in 1980, Dorothy decided to meet with Snider one last time, so she could end this thing for good. She agreed to meet Paul at his apartment where the couple had once lived together. Dorothy traveled all the way from New York, where she was in the middle of filming They All Laughed, directed by none other than Peter Bogdanovich.

The next day, Snider's flat-mates had not heard a peep from the love birds. Finally, a neighbor checked in on them.

What that neighbor saw was horrifying. Lying in a face down position on the bed was Dorothy Stratten's nude body, covered entirely in blood, including bloody handprints across her bottom. A sizable clump of hair had been torn from her head and was clenched in Snider's hand. Her left pinkie finger was detached and missing. Oh, and one more thing - so was her entire face.

Next to Dorothy's bloody corpse was what was left of Snider's body. He had a gunshot between the eyes (which had left quite a gaping hole) and one of his eyes was dangling out of the socket. Naturally, his body was also nude. Would you think more highly of the guy if it weren't?

Both Dorothy and Snider were covered in a swarm of ants.

“Death of a Playmate” was the headline on a story in one L.A. newspaper the next day. Stratten was found dead in the apartment she had shared with Snider, half her face blown away by a blast from a 12-gauge shotgun. Snider was nearby, dead from a self-inflicted wound. She had been raped, but it was impossible to say for sure whether the act came before or after death.

One interesting thing that couldn't be explained at first was some strange mechanical device in the bedroom. Home-made looking. The coroner's office could only surmise that it was some kind of kinky "love contraption," or sex bench. It was later discovered by authorities that Snider had converted a weight bench into a sex device and hoped to eventually market it to the porn industry. Naturally, that too was a failure.

Though not confirmed by the coroner's office, many knowledgeable experts on the Stratten case speculate that Snider killed Stratten in the bedroom, strapped her lifeless body to the bench, then proceeded to have sex with her corpse for the next half hour or so. Once done with her, he tossed her lifeless body onto the bed and killed himself.

Dorothy Stratten was dead at 20.

In a sick twist that could only come from Hollywood, Peter Bogdanovich would eventually marry Dorothy's younger sister, Louise. But they separated in 2001 and would eventually divorce.

There have been two movies made about the tragic life and death of Dorothy Stratten: Death of A Centerfold which starred Jamie Lee Curtis as Stratten; and Star 80 which featured Mariel Hemingway as Stratten and Eric Roberts as Snider. Star 80's climatic murder scene was shot in the actual apartment where the real murder/suicide took place. We recommend this latter film.


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