Dorothy Stratten’s Last Chapter

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Dorothy Stratten with Peter Bogdanovich on the set of “They All Laughed”.

August 14th 1980.  Playboy’s centerfold of the year Dorothy R. Stratten has less than one day left to live.  After a night of making love with director Peter Bogdanovich, she takes one last swim in his pool.  He was not aware of her plans to meet husband Paul Snider.

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Paul Snider, Dorothy Stratten’s husband.

Paul Snider was at his wit’s end.  All his life, he struggled to achieve success and had it snatched away from him.

His car shows…

the mail-order scams…

the women he pimped out…

the Chippendale dancers…

They were all stolen or taken away by men with more money and power.  And now it was happening all over again.  It was Paul’s idea for Dorothy to pose for Playboy and against all odds, she made it – where millions of other women had failed.  People described her as having a luminosity.  But without her husband, she’d still be working for the B.C. Telephone.

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Playboy’s founder Hugh Hefner with Dorothy Stratten

Hugh Hefner, Playboy’s founder had plans.  He would make her a star – the next Marilyn Monroe.  The magazine’s cartoon feature “Little Annie Fanny” would become a theatrical film – starring Dorothy.

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Little Annie Fanny

Peter Bogdanovich also had plans.  He hired a lawyer for Dorothy.  Divorce proceedings against her husband were in the works.  Eventually, they would marry and he would star her in all his future films.  She already had a small, yet significant role in “They All Laughed” (co-starring John Ritter.)  Dorothy said she wanted to be in a sad love story, not realizing she was living in one.

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John Ritter, Dorothy Stratten and Peter Bogdanovich on the set of “They All Laughed”.

“They All Laughed” would mirror characters from real life – Ritter as Bogdanovich, Dorothy as herself.

With all those around her pulling the strings, what did Dorothy Stratten want?  She didn’t like posing nude, but tolerated it to please Paul.  It had made her famous and brought her to the brink of fame.

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Tonight Show appearance with Johnny Carson.

On that last morning, Dorothy told Peter she might be pregnant with his baby.  He shrugged it off and lived to regret it.

Dorothy told her little sister Louise not to tell anybody where she was going – that she’d be back later and they’d go shopping.

Dorothy with Louise Stratten

Louise saw her older sister drive off in her 1967 Cougar.  (Paul drove the STAR 80 Mercedes.)  Dorothy was weeping.

On the way to see Paul, Dorothy spoke with her business manager.  He advised her that she didn’t owe her husband anything.  But, Dorothy was adamant that he get some money out of their divorce.

2-story house where Paul Snider lived with his wife Dorothy Stratten. Located near the Santa Monica freeway, the sounds of traffic drowned out the noise of the shotgun blast.

No one knows for sure what happened on 10881 W. Clarkson Road in Los Angeles, except through forensic examinations.  “Star 80” (1983), Bob Fosse’s account theorizes that he (Snider) thought he could win his wife back.  If so, why did he buy a Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun thru the classified ads?  Fueled by cocaine, he lost control of what sanity he had left and blew half of Dorothy’s face off.  He made attempts to call Bogdanovich who could not be reached by phone.  Obviously he planned to kill him too.  When that idea failed, Paul blew his brains out, leaving behind a room of splattered gore.  The end of America’s new playmate.

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Re-created scene (not an actual crime scene photo) of the Snider-Stratten murder-suicide.

It would not be until much later that evening when Peter would find out by a phone call from Hefner.  Dropping the phone, his colleagues asked what was wrong.

“She’s dead,” he mumbled.


“Dorothy’s dead!” he screamed, pounding his head into the floor.

Peter Bogdanovich would attempt to put back the pieces of his life by marrying Dorothy’s sister Louise.  This would end in divorce in 2001.  After a handful of films, the most successful being “Mask” (1985) and TV appearances on “The Soprano’s”, he died from complications of Parkinson’s disease on January 6, 2022.


Because of Paul Snider’s actions, he remains the villain of the story.  But, even Bogdanovich called his suicide “a humane act”.  Hefner called Snider “a small-time hustler”.  But, didn’t Playboy start off as small, taking many years to grow?  Didn’t both of these men – knowing Dorothy was married – try to take her away from her husband?  Play with fire, you’re gonna get burned.  Corner a rat and that rat will fight back.

The murder of Dorothy Stratten didn’t happen in a vacuum.  It happened because of lust, greed and power,  She remains a causality of a struggle for the perfect female.

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Dorothy Stratten’s film “Galaxina” was released the week she died.

Text © 2022 – EricReports

Dorothy Stratten: A 2nd Look

On August 14, 1980, actress/model Dorothy Stratten was murdered by her husband Paul Snider with a fatal shotgun blast to her face.  Afterward, he shot and killed himself.

What was the real motive?

Since then, there’s been a great deal of conjecture as to why he did it.  Is there any new evidence?  Clues?  Yes.

There have been different accounts for the events leading up to the homicide/suicide.

…From “Star 80” a 1983 theatrical film,

…From Playboy magazine, where Dorothy posed from 1979-1980 becoming Playmate of the Year ’80.

…From the Village Voice article “Death of a Playmate” by Teresa Carpenter.

…And from her lover/director Peter Bogdanovich.

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Dorothy Stratten with Peter Bogdanovich

Briefly, let’s examine their accounts.

“Star 80’s” story details Paul Snider as the drive and ambition behind Dorothy – the man who pushes her into the limelight.  Once she achieved success, those around her advised Dorothy to dump her husband.  He had become an embarrassment:  he was loud, pushy, arrogant, a manipulator with a savage temper.

Founder/editor of Playboy, Hugh Hefner said Paul killed Dorothy because “he was losing his meal ticket and his only claim to fame.”

Hugh Hefner

The Village Voice article indicts the Playboy empire itself – saying that Snider, in a sense, enacted his own snuff film to the point where he had sex with her corpse.

Lastly, Peter Bogdanovich.  Bogdanovich saw in Dorothy a new, bright and shining light – a twenty year old “Aphrodite”, an ingenue he could shape and form into a star.  He had just filmed her in “They All Laughed” and was ready to do more.  They were already living together.

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Peter never met Dorothy’s husband which says a lot.  From what he knew, he regarded Paul as “small-time” and thought he could “buy him off” with $50,000 – $100,000 in order to start his own talent agency.

Snider and Stratten

What really happened.  It’s true Paul Snider was sleazy, an ex-pimp from Vancouver who was using Dorothy to become rich and famous.  It’s also true those higher up on the food chain sought to get rid of him.  Hugh Hefner, unwisely, barred Snider from the Playboy Mansion, three days before her murder.  Peter Bogdanovich advised Dorothy to cut all ties with her husband, financial and otherwise.  A poster Snider had made of her was not approved by his decision.  He described it as “garish and tacky.”  This was, in my opinion, the beginning of the end, as Snider, who knew his marriage was in trouble, at least sought to manage her.  Dorothy felt sorry for her husband, knew he was outmatched by big-league Hollywood and wanted to support him.

In the summer of 1980, rumor had spread of the Bogdanovich-Stratten affair.  Likewise, Snider was aware of it.  He had her followed by a detective.

In August 1980, Dorothy made plans for a divorce.  She had moved in with Peter Bogdanovich, but she wanted to speak with Paul first.  Alone.  Peter hired a lawyer for her who asked for a flat $7,500 divorce settlement.  [This statement was found in her purse.]  Snider, who thought he’d hit the a million dollar jackpot with his new wife was being cut off with what I’m sure he thought was chump-change.  This is what I believe sent him over the edge…being sent back to Canada with no wife, and not enough money to last him beyond a few months.  The disgrace.

Whose idea was it for that $7,500?  Bogdanovich?  The lawyer?  Whomever it was, was the catalyst.

After Paul Snider killed his wife, it’s presumed he raped her, then killed himself.  The rape is an assumption.  No one knows if she agreed to it or if this occurred after death.  (A bloody hand-print was found on her buttocks.)  A bondage device may or may not have been used.

What’s now known is that Paul Snider found a phone number in his now deceased wife’s purse – the phone number for Polly Platt, Peter’s ex-wife.  At four p.m., he called it, demanding to know where Bogdanovich was.  Platt refused to tell him and hung up.  This is proof Snider waited for at least four hours for Peter, wrongly assuming he knew where Dorothy was.  Peter, in fact, did not know where Dorothy was until six when her sister Louise told him.  He did not learn of her death until 11:45 p.m. when Hefner phoned him.

More than likely Dorothy Stratten had the premonition Paul might want to kill Peter, when she told him it was finally over and that she sacrificed herself for him.

Regrets.  Peter Bogdanovich states he couldn’t imagine anybody hurting Dorothy because he couldn’t imagine hurting her himself.  This seems incredibly naïve.  Looking back, he wishes he’s let Snider have the “damned poster to stop his mounting fury.”  So why didn’t he?  Why did Hefner and Bogdanovich go out of their way to humiliate Snider?

In 1981, Bogdanovich ceased his friendship with Hugh Hefner and four years later, partially blamed “Hef” for Dorothy’s death by “establishing a publication which degrades women.”  (What he called “the fourth side of the triangle.”)  Additionally, Peter alleged a coerced sexual encounter with Hefner and Stratten in the mansion’s grotto.  (Based on the account of Patrick Curtis, who later recanted.)

In 1983, Peter would also condemn “Star 80” which cast Muriel Hemingway who looks nothing like her.  The film centers more around Paul Snider, played with charismatic aplomb by Eric Roberts.

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Scene from “Star 80”

Peter Bogdanovich’s character (barely there) is made to look weak and foolish.  The Dorothy character, according to him was made to appear as “the dumb blonde of a thousand fictions” and contained none of the charm and beauty of the real woman.

Peter Bogdanovich and Louise Stratten

In 1985, Dorothy’s sister Louise married Peter which ended in divorce in 2003.  Louise stated publicly that she didn’t blame anyone for her sister’s death, except Paul Snider.

Text © 2022 – ERN

Dorothy Stratten Murder Case

Quotes by Dorothy Stratten @ Like Success

Just on the cusp of the 1980’s, Playboy magazine chose Dorothy Stratten as “Playmate of the Year”.  She was to be groomed as their latest sex symbol.  Would Stratten be the next Marilyn Monroe?

August 14, 1980.  Dorothy Stratten is murdered by her husband Paul Snider with a shotgun blast to her face.  Snider would do the same to himself.  What went wrong?  Why couldn’t this have been prevented?  It was always about control.

Paul Snider, a small-time pimp from Vancouver, wanted to enter the big leagues and with Dorothy, he nearly made it.  In 1977, he found her working at a “Dairy Queen” and eventually convinced her to be Playboy’s latest model.

Founder Hugh Hefner immediately saw her potential.  Stratten would be their greatest star.

In 1979, Paul marries Dorothy.  He now has fifty percent controlling interest.

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Dorothy Stratten with Paul Snider


Poster for “They All Laughed”

Early in 1980, director Peter Bogdanovich casts Dorothy in his latest film, setting the wheels in motion.  A fatal love affair begins.

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Dorothy with Peter Bogdanovich

Dorothy and Paul’s marriage was never a good one.  Why she agreed to it, I can’t be sure, but Snider used it as a way to keep as much of her income as possible.  She felt she owed him her career, even though she never wanted to pose nude or achieve fame and fortune.  It was all Paul’s idea.

Peter Bogdanovich saw in Dorothy, his soulmate.  You could say his movie was the only thing she did that wasn’t exploitive.  Dorothy was willing to end her marriage for him, but not for herself.

What convinced her to ultimately leave him?

I suspect it was the poisoning of her puppy – a gift from Hefner.  Snider could be jealous even of a dog.  People who abuse animals often progress to people.

At the “Playmate of the Year” ceremony, you can see Dorothy pulling away from Paul, flinching, not being able to hold his hand or let him touch her.  He knew he was losing control.

In 1980, Dorothy had begun living with Peter.  Paul was aware of this.  He had hired detectives to follow her.

A last attempt to make money off a poster of Dorothy was rejected.  (Peter advised her of this.)

Finally, Hefner barred Paul from the Playboy mansion.  From then on, he would be allowed entry only if accompanied by his wife.

Cocaine was the drug of choice at the time and Paul used it for a paranoid high.  Add to this, his belief that he was losing Dorothy – his only ticket to the big time and…

The future may have seemed bright for Dorothy Stratten.  She had several features in the works.  A western (“Harry Tracy’) and Playboy’s version of “Little Annie Fanny”.  Plus, Peter’s forthcoming movie.

The only problem she had left was Paul.  What did he want?

Snider wanted a house, a green card, full access back inside the Playboy mansion, half of Dorothy’s money and, of course, he wanted his wife back.

“Star 80” (1983), a mostly inaccurate version of what happened, starring Mariel Hemingway (who looks nothing like Dorothy), focuses a great deal on that last day.  It can’t be known what they said, but it is known that Paul raped his wife, killed her and then raped her again.

Why did Dorothy go alone?  Didn’t she or Peter see this coming?  Although, Peter was unaware of her visit, why was she faced with the task of facing a dangerous man by herself?

Bogdanovich partially blamed Hefner for his magazine’s ethics.  He would go on to marry her younger sister, Louise, later ending in divorce.

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Peter Bogdanovich and Louise Stratten

Dorothy remains a tragic figure, caught in the middle, for her loss of control.

Text © 2018 – ERN

Last Movie Roles – Part 1

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Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe

The Misfits (1961.)  A group of “losers” discover the meaning of life near Reno, NV.  Troubled production.  Monroe and husband/screenwriter Arthur Miller divorced immediately after.  Clark Gable died from a heart attack before it hit theaters; M.M. died in ’62 from a drug overdose; possible suicide.

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Elvis Presley

Elvis on Tour (1972.)  Rock star Elvis Presley finally found his niche doing documentaries, this being his follow-up  to “Elvis – That’s the Way It Is” (1970.)  Amazing use of split screens; well edited by then newcomer Martin Scorsese.  Won a Golden Globe for “Best Documentary”.  Elvis died five years later in Graceland.

James Dean

Giant (1956.)  James Dean was the hottest new star in Hollywood when his aluminum sports car smashed itself into oblivion on 9/30/55.  He received his second Oscar nomination for Best Actor as Jett Rink, Rock Hudson’s nemesis in “Giant”.

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Jayne Mansfield

The Wild, Wild World of Jayne Mansfield (1968.)  1950’s blonde bombshell Jayne Mansfield still managed to earn a living doing nightclub appearances and independent films.  This “mondo”-style documentary (filmed shortly before her death) is narrated by a female impersonator and ends with her car accident.


Picture taken in “death car”.


June 29, 1967


Sharon Tate

12 + 1 (aka The 13 Chairs, 1969.)  Nearly unknown European comedy starring Vittorio Gassman and Sharon Tate.  Not particularily funny and the two lead actors didn’t like each other.  Miss Tate was murdered on Aug. 9, 1969 by the Manson “family”.  (Written about in “Helter-Skelter” – 1971.)

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Sharon as “Pat”.

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Dorothy Stratten

They All Laughed (1981.)  Model/actress Dorothy Stratten was just starting out – this being her third picture after “Autumn Born” and “Galaxina”.  1980 seemed like her year – she was chosen as “Playboy’s Playmate of the Year,” until she got caught up in a love triangle with director Peter Bogdanovich and her husnand/manager Paul Snider.  Snider killed her and himself on Aug. 14, 1980, probably while they were discussing their impending divorce.  Cause of death:  a shotgun blast to the face.

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Dorothy with Peter Bogdanovich

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Paul Snider

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Mame (1974.)  Based on the famous Broadway musical, starring Lucille Ball, who most know can’t sing.  ’74 was also the year “Here’s Lucy” (1968-1974) was cancelled.  A bad luck year for that “wacky redhead”.  Lucy died on 4/26/89 from a torn artery.

The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu (1980.)  Actor Peter Sellers had finally found fortune again in the mid-to-late 1970’s.  (In the “Pink Panther” film series and as Chauncey Gardiner in “Being There” (1979.)  He completed his life’s work with this strange, obscure comedy which ends with him doing an Elvis impersonation.  Mr. Sellers died from a heart attack on July 24, 1980.

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Laurel & Hardy in “Utopia” (1950.)  Weird French comedy, badly dubbed, starring that great comedy team Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy.  Language barrier further complicated this misunderstood venture.  A few scenes shine through.  Mr. Laurel died from a heart attack on 2/23/65.  Mr. Hardy died from cerebral thrombosis on 8/7/57.


Larry Fine, Moe Howard, and Joe DeRita

Kook’s Tour (1970.)  Rarely seen “3 Stooges” pilot of them touring the countryside.  Unique travelogue could’ve worked, except the “middle stooge” Larry Fine suffered from a stroke and was placed in a retirement home.

VIVIEN LEIGH B&W SHIP OF FOOLS PHOTO OR POSTER | Vivien ...  Vivian Leigh in “Ship of Fools” (1965.)  Former Academy award winner for “Gone with the Wind” and “A Streetcar Named Desire”.  Her final award was the “L’Etoile de Cristal for “Ship of Fools”.  (lead performance)  Leigh died from tuberculosis on July 8, 1967.


Article’s Text © 2016 – ERN – All Rights Reserved.