No matter who it is, the death of a Playboy Playmate is nothing short of tragic. Yet, somehow, some Playmates meet some of the most gruesome and often times mysterious fates. So here in one place, are the weirdest, strangest, and often unexplained deaths of Playboy Playmates.
From young beauties like Dorothy Stratten just taking off in their career to long-acclaimed legends like Marilyn Monroe to retired Playmate veterans like Yvette Vicker, here are the seven strangest Playmate deaths to have ever occurred in Playboy Bunny history.
In what is easily a horrible, horrible way to go, Dorothy Stratten gets a high spot on this list because she really just ended up with the wrong guy.
Dorothy Ruth Hoogstraten was only 17 when she sent in nude photos to Playboy magazine with the help of a 26-year-old club promoter and (literal) pimp Paul Snider. Though she was underage, the two met while Stratten was working part-time at a Dairy Queen in Vancouver, and they quickly fell into a romance, much to Stratten’s mother’s disapproval.
In two years’ time, Stratten already moved out to Los Angeles with Snider and was working as a bunny at the Century City Playboy Club with her surname shortened to “Stratten.”
After finding success in television and filming her first (and only) major film titled They All Laughed, Stratten began an affair with the movie’s director, Peter Bogdanovich. By then, several people, including Hugh Hefner himself, were warning Stratten about her relationship with Snider, saying that he was a “hustler and a pimp.”
Snider, though, wasn’t going to let Stratten go without a fight. He hired a private investigator to follow her and on August 14, 1980, when the two arranged to meet at Snider’s house to talk about divorce, decided to take it into his hands that no one was ever going to follow her anymore.
He shot Stratten in the face, tied her lifeless body to a “love contraption,” had sex with her body for a half hour or so, and then blew out his own brains. Snider’s roommates discovered both of them lying nude on the floor with ants swarming their bodies.
Stratten was only 20, and two movies (Death of a Centerfold and Star 80) were later made about her tragic life and death. The girl really did deserve more.
Here’s a mummy story for you to get wrapped up in.
Beverly Hills, California. Yvette Vickers, a former Playboy playmate and B-movie actress who you might know from such cult classics as Attack of the Giant Leeches, Sunset Boulevard, and Attack of the 50 Foot Woman. In her first Playboy spread, she was even photographed by Russ Meyer himself.
She was discovered on May 2, 2011 by a friend in a mummified state inside her Benedict Canyon home.
Of course, her organs were not removed and preserved in jars like King Tut and others, but her remains were unrecognizable, having been left undiscovered for what reportedly could have been almost a year.
Susan Savage said she went to check on Vickers after she noticed the 82-year-old’s mailbox gathering old letters and cobwebs. After entering her home, Savage made her way upstairs to a room that had a small space heater on (the electrical bill must’ve skyrocketed) and, sure enough, found Vickers’ body, dry and shriveled up, on the floor along with a cordless phone, which appeared to have fallen off its cradle.
This is yet another reason not to watch reality shows. Because, frankly, reality, you know the one that’s actually real, gets in the way.
Ryan Jenkins was a contestant on the VH1 reality shows “I Love Money” and “Megan Wants a Millionaire” as well as a suspect for the murder of Jasmine Fiore, a Playboy model and his ex-wife. Jasmine’s was found on August 15, 2009 strangled and stuffed in a suitcase with her remains mutilated to prevent recognition.
Her fingers and teeth were indeed severed and all identification was removed, except for (wait for it) the serial numbers on her breast implants. A few days after the police formally charged Jenkins with murder on August 20, 2009, Jenkins hung himself in a motel room.
Jayne Mansfield was one of the original blonde bombshells of Hollywood and Broadway. She was honored as Playboy Playmate of the Month and appeared nude in the magazine many times throughout her career.
She was also notoriously known to publicly expose parts of her anatomy “accidentally” in a series of publicity stunts, where she’d wear cleavage bearing dresses and purposefully lean or move a certain way as to expose her breasts.
Her career came to an end on June 28, 1967, when she, along with her boyfriend Sam Brody, driver, and children crashed into a tractor-trailer that abruptly slowed down on the road. Not only did their car hit the tractor-trailer, it also went under it, resulting in complete removal of the automobile’s top as well as killing all adults riding up front.
Police photographs were captured and, when seen by the public, spawned rumors of Jayne Mansfield’s decapitation. There appeared to be a blonde-haired head tangled in the car’s windshield, which was believed to be Mansfield’s, but her death certification only read “crushed skull with avulsion of cranium and brain.” It’s believed she was either scalped, or her wig came off in the crash.
Ellen Louise “Star” Stowe lived the good, celebrity life as Playmate of the Month and then the hard, gritty life as a sex worker afterwards.
She dated KISS member Gene Simmons at one point and partied with people like Elton John and of course, The Hef. Once her minutes in the limelight were over, however, Star began to work as a sex worker and fell into drugs and alcohol. On March 16, 1997, just days before her 41st birthday, Star was found partially clothed, strangled, and dumped in some bushes.
Investigators believed she was victim of a serial killer, as another sex worker’s body was found in the same manner three weeks prior. Sandra Kay Walters, the other victim, also had a history of drugs and had similar physical features to that of Star. There were, however, no solid leads and thus, Star’s story is another mystery yet to be solved.
Anna Nicole Smith
The media swarm over former Playboy Playmate Anna Nicole Smith’s death was unforgettable, but that was because Anna Nicole Smith was unforgettable.
The famously voluptuous blonde was found unresponsive in her room at the Minole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino after an accidental overdose of at least nine prescription drugs. This came a year after Smith’s own 20-year-old son Daniel died in the Bahamas from drug-related causes.
Adding more fire to the flames of media attention, Smith also gave birth to her daughter, Dannielynn, not long before she died, and questions of paternity arose right after her passing with several men pulling a reverse-Maury and stepping up to the plate claiming to be the father.
It also did not help the frenzy that Smith was still in an ongoing lawsuit with Pierce Marshall over her $450 million inheritance from oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall. The woman sure knew how to build a scandal. Like her idol Marilyn Monroe, Anna Nicole Smith lived a life full of controversy and died having it carry her off as well.
The cause of her death was known, but the reason will always remain a mystery.
Marilyn Monroe is perhaps the first person to have ever walked the earth as a blonde bombshell and gain fame for it. She was revered (and criticized) for being a sex symbol in the ’50s and ’60s and was the cover model for the very first Playboy issue in December 1953. She’s known as one of the most beautiful women in history.
All the fame and glory, however, did not seem to help the young beauty’s health and mental state of being, and she eventually developed a dependency on alcohol and prescription medications (much like most people even half her age in Hollywood at the time) one that would lead to her inevitable demise.
On August 5, 1962, Marilyn Monroe was found dead in her bedroom at her Brentwood home. Some, like Dr. Thomas Noguchi of the Los Angeles County Coroner’s office, believed it was caused by a drug overdose and others, like Los Angeles Police Department officer Jack Clemmons, believed it to be a murder.
The actress and model was naked and lying facedown on her bed at the scene with her left hand reaching across for the telephone on the nightstand. Though there were prescription bottles everywhere, there was actually no water in the room or bathroom, as well as no evidence of partially or undissolved capsules in her body.
Today, it remains a mystery and conspiracy theories float around like it was yesterday. Hollywood has truly never forgotten about this beautiful blonde and they never will.
On the morning of May 18, 2018, former playmate Stephanie Adams committed suicide by jumping out the window of a New York City hotel. She also killed her 7 year old son in the process as she held him in her arms when she jumped. It’s not clear what motivated the murder/suicide, but sources reported Adams was in the midst of an acrimonious custody battle with her ex.