Sunday, 24 June 2012

Dorothy Stratten

Dorothy Stratten (February 28, 1960 – August 14, 1980) was a Canadian model and actress. Stratten was the Playboy Playmate of the Month for August 1979, Playmate of the Year in 1980 and was the second Playmate (after Lee Ann Michelle) born in the 1960s. Stratten appeared in three comedy films and at least two episodes of shows broadcast on US network television. She was murdered at age twenty by her estranged husband/manager Paul Snider, who committed suicide the same day. Her death inspired two motion pictures.

Dorothy Stratten's story was brief, glorious and tragic. She was born Dorothy Ruth Hoogstraten on February 28, 1960 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. She grew up in a rough neighborhood in Vancouver, but kept out of trouble and went through the motions of school. While not a beauty as a child, nor early teen, Stratten came into her own out of high school and attracted the attention of Paul Snider, a promoter and wannabe star. He started dating her and after seeing an advertisement for Playboy's 25th Anniversary Playmate search in 1978, convinced her to pose for photos. Playboy saw the potential in Stratten and flew her out to Los Angeles, California, where she became a candidate. Although she lost out to Candy Loving, Stratten was made a Playmate in the August 1979 issue of Playboy. Soon after, she was pressured into marrying Snider, who had a Svengali-like influence on her. After her centerfold came out, Stratten found work in a few movies, notably Americathon (1979) and Skatetown, U.S.A. (1979), as well as being the object of Richard Dawson's affection in an ABC-TV special shot at the Playboy mansion. Clearly, her star was on the rise. In 1980, it was revealed that Stratten would be tabbed as the Playmate of the Year by Playboy publisher and founder Hugh M. Hefner. While this was one of the crowning achievements of her career, things were not going well in her marriage to Snider. He bothered her on the set of the movie Galaxina (1980) and when Snider found out she was developing more than a friendly relationship with director Peter Bogdanovich, Snider grew increasingly frustrated. After a separation, Snider bought a shotgun and talked Stratten into coming to the apartment they used to share in West Los Angeles. Snider tied her up, sexually assaulted her and put the shotgun next to her face and pulled the trigger. Snider then turned the shotgun on himself to complete the murder-suicide. Since her death, Stratten has become something of a minor cult fixture, and has had two (one a television) movies, a song, and a couple of books written about her. The last movie she was in, They All Laughed (1981), was released after her death.

Star 80 is a 1983 American film about the true story of Playboy Playmate of the Year Dorothy Stratten, who was murdered by her estranged husband Paul Snider in 1980. The film was directed by Bob Fosse, and starred Mariel Hemingway and Eric Roberts. The film was shot on location in Vancouver, British Columbia and Los Angeles, California; the death scene was filmed in the same house in which the murder-suicide actually took place. The story is based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning Village Voice article "Death of a Playmate" by Teresa Carpenter; the film's title was taken from Snider's vanity license plates.

Star 80, 1983 (****) a thoroughly absorbing dramatisation of the events leading up to the murder of Playboy centrefold extraordinaire Dorothy Stratten, and is even creepier than it first appears: Bob Fosse's attention to detail is disturbing, for example even the murder scene is shot in exactly the same room the crime took place, and this for a film made only shortly after her death; while Mariel Hemingway is intelligent and thoughtful in the main role, Eric Roberts, as Paul Snider the lowlife who discovered Stratten in Vancouver, hammily camps it up way too hard - in reality, Snider was clearly just another Stratten-obsessed straight loser (as is the thoroughly unpleasant Peter Bogdanovich, represented in the film under another name)

Dorothy Stratten's life and death, and the piece written about it by Teresa Carpenter in the Village Voice, are the bases of Bob Fosse's new film, ''Star 80,'' which, like his ''Lenny'' and ''All That Jazz,'' is a dazzling display of cinematic pyrotechnics. Watching ''Star 80'' is like witnessing a huge sound-and-light show, one designed not to call up the history of the pyramids, the Parthenon or even the Brooklyn Bridge but a contemporary world where sleaziness has triumphed.

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