Dorothy Stratten’s murder: From Playboy to real-life ‘horror movie’

Dorothy Stratten

Dorothy Stratten made the creepy headlines in 1980, when her separated husband, Paul Snider, raped her before killing the Playboy Queen of Playmate of the year with a 12-gauge shotgun in the face.

She was 20 years old. Snider, 29, turned the gun.

Almost 40 years later, the dazzling blonde is in fashion again thanks to “The Death of a Playmate”, a new documentary “20/20” that will air on Friday at 9 p.m. on ABC

The two-hour story about the true crime recalls Stratten’s dizzying life, from ice cream in Vancouver, British Columbia, being a Playboy bunny in Los Angeles, to her brief time as a flourishing big screen star next to Audrey Hepburn

Dr. Stephen Cushner and Patti Laurman, the couple’s former housemates in Los Angeles, knew that Stratten would go to the house he once shared with Snider to negotiate a divorce settlement. Concerned about his safety due to Snider’s increasingly erratic behavior, they went to see how he was doing.

They knocked in vain before opening the door to “an image that never disappears, a mental image that is trapped here forever,” Laurman recalls in the ABC News production. “It looked like it was a horror movie. A staged horror movie, like mannequins and fake blood. ”

But instead it was a very real tragedy that some who knew them considered almost inevitable. According to many accounts, this central page was an angel.

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Paul Snider and Dorothy Stratten cut their wedding cake in 1979, Stratten in 1980’s “Galaxina” and posed for a 1980 promotional photo. Composed: Getty Images
“She didn’t think everyone lied and all liars came to [Los Angeles],” says friend actor Max Baer Jr., better known as Jethro Bodine in “The Beverly Hillbillies.”

“I said,” Do you care about her? “And he said,” Yes. “I said,” Well, if you really care about her. . . Take her back to Vancouver. She doesn’t belong here. “I said,” She’s nice. It has a great figure, a pretty face and this city will destroy it. ”

How a “Jewish pimp” attracted a “baby in the forest”
Dorothy Ruth Hoogstratten was a 17-year-old introvert who worked at a Canadian Dairy Queen in 1978 when the sordid Snider first saw her raw ticket for the big time. Teresa Carpenter, who won a Pulitzer Prize for her cover story of Village Voice in 1980 on the life and death of Stratten, tells how Snider went from earning a “decent life” by promoting auto shows to “fixing” her new “merchandise” class”.

“It was not enough to accommodate his extravagant taste, so he began to procure girls and sucked them aside,” Carpenter says in the special. “He did not keep a low profile because he was driving a black Corvette, wearing a mink coat and a star of David embedded with jewels that hung from his chest. He was called the Jewish pimp and cultivated it.”

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Dorothy Stratten in 1980 Toronto Star through Getty Images
When Playboy launched his “Great Playmate Hunt” to discover the cover model and the central page for its 25th anniversary edition, Snider convinced his discovery, who was then 18, of posing for nude photos.

“It took a little while to convince me to agree to take some test photos,” Stratten says in a clip from a local Canadian talk show. “I had never taken my clothes off from anyone I didn’t know… It took me about two weeks to agree.”

Hugh Hefner’s talent scouts, however, were instantly excited about the “innocence” of Stratten’s test shots.

“I wanted her on the next plane: she was a total girl in the forest,” says photo editor Marilyn Grabowski, who worked at Playboy for 43 years. “I can’t remember that another Playmate is that. I don’t want to say naive, [but] inexperienced, not accustomed to their surroundings and not accustomed to thinking that it was really beautiful.”

Paralyzed by shyness, the newly baptized Dorothy Stratten missed the 25th anniversary Playmate concert, but went to work and obtained her residence card as a bunny at the Playboy Club West, where she was not old enough to serve alcohol.

When he quickly reached Playmate of the Month in August 1979, Snider, a “small-time scammer,” tightened his control over his asset. To prove his loyalty, and against Hef’s wishes, he married Snider two months before his topic reached the kiosks.

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Dorothy Stratten with the founder of Hugh Hefner magazine at the 1980 Playmate of the Year ceremony. Getty Images
From Svengali to shooting star
“She was on the phone with him every day when we shot him,” says Grabowski. “She called and told her how well she was doing.


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