dorothy stratten playboy bunny

Dorothy Stratten — Playboy Playmate of the Month for August, 1979 & Playmate of the Year for 1980.

Anyone who lived during the time of the brutal killing and tragic loss of Playboy Playmate Dorothy Stratten, probably will never forget how utterly shocking and saddening it truly was. It spawned 2 movies (including the gripping classic, Star 80), books (including ‘The Killing of the Unicorn’ by Peter Bogdanovich, her boyfriend at the time), and many songs written in her memory. Fellow Canadian Bryan Adams actually co-wrote 2 songs about her. The crime is no less shocking today, and we are left with her story of a young girl who seemingly had acheived the American dream of fortune and fame, only to have it violently stolen from her, along with her young fragile life, by an insecure, low-life punk, whose name is not even worth mentioning. RIP Dorothy Stratten. You live on. Many of the photos are via the authoritative site on Dorothy Stratten.


“The Medieval Knight stands bold in its shining armour as Miss World of Wheels, Dorothy Hoogstraten (AKA Dorothy Stratten) dubs Ron Bergsma, who is one of the ‘Macho Man’ contestants from Universal Olympic Gym at the World of Wheels Custom Car Show, August 16th, 1978.” –Photo by Paul Snider.

dorothy stratten bikini firebird

Dorothy Stratten in a bikini with the 1979 Firebird Trans Am custom-built by legendary George Barris and that starred in the Steve Martin film “The Jerk”. 

john travolta george barris pontiac firebird fever

OK, I couldn’t resist… here’s a photo of John Travolta with “Firebird Fever” signed by George Barris. “The most famous Pontiac Firebird ever to hit the streets was designed by famed car customizer George Barris who is also responsible for the ‘Batmobile’, the ‘Munster Koach’, the ‘General Lee’ and the ‘Monkee Mobile’. Hollywood promoters wanted to create a special car that would fit Travolta’s superstar image and tied into ‘Saturday Night Fever’. ‘Travolta Fever’ was built to promote John Travolta and his rising career. In 1980, when Travolta inspired a nationwide country music craze with ‘Urban Cowboy’, George Barris transformed the interior of ‘Travolta Fever’ with an ‘Urban Cowboy’ theme complete with appointed cowhide seats and an authentic saddle for the center console. ‘Travolta Fever’ is also equipped with NASCAR-inspired, sculptured fender flares and a large rear whale tail. Revell, the famous plastic model maker, produced and sold scale model kits of the Barris customized Firebird. In fact, John Travolta’s ‘Firebird Fever’ was one of the first celebrity car model kits ever offered by the company. After a short time of being shown on the West Coast, ‘Travolta Fever’ made its way to the Midwest, where it was leased from Barris by American car and custom hot rod designer Darryl Starbird and featured in several of his shows.” via

dorothy stratten firebird

Dorothy Stratten posing with the 1979 Firebird Trans Am wide-body custom-built by none other than the legendary George Barris, and that starred in the Steve Martin film “The Jerk”. Barris built it, and the “John Travolta Firebird Fever” Trans Am, side-by-side at his shop. “FF” sported a high-performance Pontiac 455 engine, custom interior with Recaora seats, custom flared fenders, Racemark steering wheel, T-roof with tinted panels, opening “Shaker” hood, rear “Whale tail” spoiler, Hooker side pipes, real rubber Firestone S/S radial tires, colorful “Fever” decals, custom instrument panel. “Firebird Fever” was released in conjunction with Revell’s matching 1/25 scale plastic model kit to capitalize on Travolta’s mass popularity at the time. Photo by William LaChasse, via Autoculture

dorothy stratten desert dune buggy

Dorothy Stratten — Photo by William LaChasse, via Autoculture

dorothy stratten harley panhead chopper

Dorothy Stratten with a Harley Panhead chopper — Photo by William LaChasse, via Autoculture

dorothy stratten cleavage

Dorothy Stratten signing autographs at a car show  — Photo by William LaChasse, via Autoculture

dorothy stratten playboy bunny playmate roller skates

dorothy stratten roller skates playboy playmate bunny

dorothy stratten playboy playmate roller skates star 80

dorothy stratten peter bogdanovich

Dorothy Stratten and the man she left Paul Snider for — film director Peter Bogdanovich. He was so grief stricken at her loss, that he stopped film-making to write a book about her — The Killing of the Unicorn — and then years later, after cultivating her from the age of 12 yrs old, he married Dorothy’s younger sister, Louise.

The Passions of Peter Bogdanovich | People Magazine, 1989–

She was, director Peter Bogdanovich would admit, an obsession. Blond, delicately featured, a Playboy Playmate of the Year, Dorothy Stratten was so beautiful she seemed luminescent, as if lit from within. A year after he first met her in 1978, when she was 18, Bogdanovich cast her in a movie and, though she was married, they soon became lovers. “I could hardly believe that she really existed, that she wasn’t a dream,” he later said of their affair. “There was something miraculous about Dorothy Stratten.”

In just five months, however, the director’s dream became a nightmare: Dorothy’s estranged husband, crazed by her decision to leave him and marry Bogdanovich, raped her, killed her with a point-blank shotgun blast to the head, and then killed himself. Her murder left Bogdanovich desolate, devastated. “I haven’t been dating,” he said, 16 months after Dorothy’s murder. “I’m a widower. I don’t know if I can ever love as totally and completely as I loved Dorothy.” He gave up making movies to write a book about her death, and he became devoted to Dorothy’s mother, Nelly, and her 12-year-old kid sister, Louise.

Too devoted, some said. He sent Louise, an insecure, pudgy girl with none of her sister’s delicate features, to a private school and to modeling classes. He bought her a baby grand piano and took her along on trips to Paris and Hawaii. He gave her a gold-and-diamond necklace and, when she graduated from high school, a Pontiac Trans Am. In 1986, he gave her a movie role.

Two weeks ago, Bogdanovich married Louise, now 20, in a small ceremony in Vancouver, renewing speculation about just when his interest in the girl became more than that of a close family friend—and about just what it had become. Skeptics suggested that Louise’s motivation had a practical side; her marriage to Bogdanovich would solve a chronic problem she’d had coming from her native Canada to work in the States. Those who know the couple discounted that—and saw in the relationship an eerie reprise of the director’s intense love for Louise’s sister, Dorothy.

When allegations of a romantic attachment between Bogdanovich and Louise first surfaced in 1984, when she was 16, they were silenced by a slander suit filed by Louise and her mother. (The suit was later dropped.) Some of those who know Bogdanovich best expressed little surprise at the marriage. Polly Platt, Bogdanovich’s first wife and mother of his two daughters—who were friendly with Louise during her frequent sojourns in L.A.—says the pair “had been together for a long time.”

But Louise’s mother, hearing of the marriage at her home in Vancouver, was distraught. “I feel he wants her because of a guilt trip,” she said. “This happened to my other daughter, who got her head shot off, and it’s gonna happen to this one. He didn’t do it, but he was involved. If he is in love with one daughter, how can he be in love with the other daughter?”

dorothy stratten playboy bunny star 80

1979 — Dorothy Stratten working at the Century City Playboy Club. RIP


  1. I remember this story so well. I was a young man who like millions of other young men viewed Dorothy as almost god like; a radiant dream of Womanhood who we all desired and adored. Her murder was a blow along the lines of the Kennedy brothers and MLK. I know that sounds crazy but for me it’s true. One more nail in the coffin of innocence. Thanks for posting this.

  2. Very sad story and it was quite shocking when it happened.

    Looking back at pics, she was pretty, but in a generic blonde way – nothing really unique. Especially for the late 70s – blonde goddesses where a dime a dozen. Maybe you had to see her in person.

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