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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Text © 2022 – EricReports