Tragic story of Playboy icon whose husband co-founded Chippendales played by Nicola Peltz Beckham

Dorothy Hoogstraten was a 17-year-old high school student, working part-time as an ice cream server, when she first met the man who would prove her nemesis. 

Paul Snider, a predatory ex-pimp and car show promoter, spotted her behind the counter at the branch of Dairy Queen where she worked in East Vancouver, British Columbia, and realised he’d struck gold.

‘That girl could make me a lot of money,’ he reportedly told the friend who was with him. He obtained Dorothy’s phone number from a colleague and, to his delight, discovered she was as innocent and trusting as she was beautiful.

And she never lost that touching vulnerability, say those who knew her, even as Snider, her future husband, lured her into the seedier side of showbusiness, encouraging her to pose nude en route to becoming Playboy’s Playmate of the Year.

Tragic life: Stratten (pictured) was Playmate of the Year in 1980. That year she was murdered, aged just 20

Tragic life: Stratten (pictured) was Playmate of the Year in 1980. That year she was murdered, aged just 20

Tragic life: Stratten (pictured) was Playmate of the Year in 1980. That year she was murdered, aged just 20

Snider, her future husband, lured Stratten into the seedier side of showbusiness, encouraging her to pose nude en route to becoming Playboy¿s Playmate of the Year

Snider, her future husband, lured Stratten into the seedier side of showbusiness, encouraging her to pose nude en route to becoming Playboy¿s Playmate of the Year

Snider, her future husband, lured Stratten into the seedier side of showbusiness, encouraging her to pose nude en route to becoming Playboy’s Playmate of the Year

Yet though some saw her as a future Marilyn Monroe, Snider shot her dead when she was only 20 in a fit of fury and jealousy after he realised he’d lost her to celebrated film director Peter Bogdanovich. 

The tragic rise and fall of the woman who took the stage name Dorothy Stratten — a sordid Hollywood fairy tale in which innocence was cruelly punished and nobody lived happily ever after — is being revisited in a TV drama mini-series starring Nicola Peltz Beckham as Stratten and Downton Abbey star Dan Stevens as the man who married her, murdered her and then shot himself.

Welcome To Chippendales, produced by Hulu and currently airing in America, is due for release in the UK on Disney+ next month.

It charts the violent story of the famously raunchy male striptease act and its founder, Indian entrepreneur Somen ‘Steve’ Banerjee, another ruthless low-life who would later be convicted of paying a hitman to kill a business rival.

Snider was Banerjee’s business partner and actually dreamt up the male strippers idea while Stratten suggested they wore the same skimpy outfits — collars, cuffs and bow ties — that she’d worn as a Playboy Bunny.

It is 27-year-old Peltz Beckham’s first acting role since marrying Brooklyn, son of David and Victoria Beckham, in April this year. She’s followed in the footsteps of Jamie Lee Curtis and Mariel Hemingway who have both played Stratten in a story that Hollywood clearly finds irresistible — even if it hardly shows the industry in a flattering light.

 Dorothy had no notion of her effect on men

The shy daughter of Dutch migrants who moved to Canada after World War II, the girl with blonde hair, deep blue eyes, full lips and a perfect figure apparently had no notion of her effect on men.

Before she caught Snider’s eye, Stratten had had only one boyfriend and had convinced herself she was ‘plain with big hands’. Her only ambition was to become a secretary.

Her family had struggled financially ever since her father deserted them when she was very young and she’d had to work at the ice cream shop from the age of 14.

The TV drama mini-series stars Nicola Peltz Beckham as Stratten (right) and Downton Abbey star Dan Stevens (left) as the man who married her, murdered her and then shot himself

The TV drama mini-series stars Nicola Peltz Beckham as Stratten (right) and Downton Abbey star Dan Stevens (left) as the man who married her, murdered her and then shot himself

The TV drama mini-series stars Nicola Peltz Beckham as Stratten (right) and Downton Abbey star Dan Stevens (left) as the man who married her, murdered her and then shot himself

It is 27-year-old Peltz Beckham¿s first acting role since marrying Brooklyn, son of David and Victoria Beckham, in April this year

It is 27-year-old Peltz Beckham¿s first acting role since marrying Brooklyn, son of David and Victoria Beckham, in April this year

It is 27-year-old Peltz Beckham’s first acting role since marrying Brooklyn, son of David and Victoria Beckham, in April this year

Snider, a flashy and mustachioed spiv who wore a mink coat and a Star of David medallion that earned him the nickname ‘the Jewish pimp’, swept her off her feet. He showered her with compliments, clothes and a topaz ring set in diamonds.

He was nine years older and clearly knew the world. He also knew that Stratten was too valuable to him to become a common prostitute. After escorting her to her school prom, he took the teenager to several photographers, having persuaded her that her future lay in posing naked.

‘She was eager to please,’ photographer Uwe Meyer told the Village Voice. ‘I hesitated to rearrange her breasts thinking it might upset her, but she said, “Do whatever you like”.’ She would later say it had taken her two weeks to agree to the shoot.

When Playboy boss Hugh Hefner saw her photos, he booked her on the next plane to Los Angeles (it was the first time Stratten had flown) for more photo sessions.

‘She was a total babe in the woods,’ said Playboy picture editor Marilyn Grabowski. ‘I cannot remember another Playmate being that — I don’t want to say naive —inexperienced, unused to her surroundings and not used to thinking that she was really beautiful.’

Those who met Stratten were similarly taken aback to find that while she looked like an adult, she talked like a young girl. Even a seasoned lecher like Hefner was in awe of her, saying: ‘Angelic, she lit up a room — all the corny phrases were true about Dorothy.’

She was earmarked as Playboy Playmate of the Month for the August 1979 edition and Hefner kept her busy by giving her a job as a Bunny at the Playboy Club in LA.

Unlike other Playmates, who required cosmetic surgery on breasts, scars or other ‘imperfections’, Stratten needed nothing —apart from a less cumbersome surname than Hoogstraten, which she soon dropped.

She was suddenly thrust into the centre of the debauched Hefner empire. Snider came too, having flown to LA and proposed to her the moment he learned she’d been selected as a Playmate.

He and two partners, including Banerjee, took over a failing LA bar and, at Snider’s suggestion, put on a weekly all-male strip night by a group christened the Chippendales after the style of furniture that adorned the venue.

But Snider was forced out of the business before he was able to cash in on its huge success and, when his plan to create a state-of-the-art bondage rack to sell to sex shops went nowhere, it became clear Stratten would be his only source of income.

Her friends and associates, including Hefner, quickly identified Snider as a snake and urged her not to marry him, but she felt beholden to the man who told her that they’d made a ‘lifetime bargain’. She also clung to him for support in a new world she initially found overwhelming. They married in Las Vegas in June 1979.

Hefner didn’t like his Playmates bringing husbands or boyfriends to his notorious parties at the Playboy Mansion, where Stratten mixed in the druggy fug with such oversexed Hollywood stars as Burt Reynolds, Jack Nicholson and Warren Beatty.

 She never took drugs and sneered at the Playboy party ‘whores’

She was occasionally allowed to bring Snider but when he wasn’t annoying famous guests by trying to ingratiate himself with them, he’d try to get off with the other girls in the mansion’s ‘grotto’: the red-lit setting for most of the parties’ sexual encounters.

He was eventually caught with one of them and frogmarched out by Playboy security. Dorothy, on the other hand, didn’t go to the Playboy Mansion to misbehave. A brilliant skater — she often turned up on rollerskates — she never took drugs and sneered at the ‘whores’ who went to the parties to service the famous guests.

Before she caught Snider¿s eye, Stratten (pictured) had had only one boyfriend and had convinced herself she was ¿plain with big hands¿. Her only ambition was to become a secretary

Before she caught Snider¿s eye, Stratten (pictured) had had only one boyfriend and had convinced herself she was ¿plain with big hands¿. Her only ambition was to become a secretary

Before she caught Snider’s eye, Stratten (pictured) had had only one boyfriend and had convinced herself she was ‘plain with big hands’. Her only ambition was to become a secretary

While her husband cynically lectured her on who she would have to sleep with on her path to acting stardom — her ultimate goal — there’s no evidence she ever did.

Even Hefner, who’d been at the top of Snider’s to-sleep-with list, later insisted he never had sex with Stratten and never even tried to. He said he, instead, saw himself as a ‘father figure’ to her.

This uncharacteristic display of chivalry may have had its roots in self-interest: craving respectability, Hefner desperately wanted one of his Playmates to become a Hollywood star and saw Stratten — so much more natural-looking than the others — as his best bet. He found her an agent and business manager, sidelining Snider who’d previously filled that role, and she won various small acting parts including in the TV series Fantasy Island and Buck Rogers In The 25th Century. In 1980, she won the title role in a sci-fi comedy called Galaxina.

Reduced to being little more than her chauffeur, Snider became terrified that she was slipping out of his grasp. Then, on another visit to the Playboy Mansion, she met Hollywood director Peter Bogdanovich, whose impressive roster of films included The Last Picture Show and Paper Moon.

Bogdanovich admitted to friends he was smitten and wrote a significant role for Stratten in his upcoming film, They All Laughed, starring Audrey Hepburn and Ben Gazzara. Snider wanted to join her for filming in New York but Stratten, who was falling in love with Bogdanovich, himself the former lover of actress Cybill Shepherd, fobbed him off by telling him it would be a ‘closed set’ from which outsiders were banned.

Meanwhile, her modelling career continued to blossom. In April 1980, Hefner named her his Playmate of the Year at a ceremony at the Playboy Mansion in which he said: ‘She is something rather special. They always are, but Dorothy is really quite unique.’

That night Stratten appeared on the Johnny Carson Show where she revealed that among the rewards she’d been offered by Hefner was a $13,000 bathtub that could fit ten people. ‘What are we going to tell the other eight?’ sniggered the chat show king in the sort of smutty aside with which she was by then well-acquainted.

As she jetted off around the world to promote Playboy, Snider became so convinced that he’d lose Stratten that he even tried to recreate her, finding a 17-year-old grocery checkout girl and part-time model whom he groomed to look and even walk like Stratten. But Hefner wasn’t interested in making her a Playmate, too.

Suspecting his wife — who had written from New York to ask for a separation — was having an affair with Bogdanovich, Snider hired a private detective to follow her and obtain the evidence so he could somehow sue the director.

Stratten — whose agent was by now so optimistic about her prospects that he turned down a possible starring role in Charlie’s Angels in the expectation of something bigger — agreed to meet Snider for lunch in August 1980.

She admitted she was now living with Bogdanovich and wanted a divorce although she made clear she wouldn’t leave her husband in the lurch financially.

Snider was devastated — not because he loved her but because she was his ‘meal ticket’ — and desperate. After asking his private eye to get him a machine gun for ‘home protection’, he eventually bought a 12-bore pump-action shotgun from classified ads.

When Playboy boss Hugh Hefner (left) saw Stratten's (right) photos, he booked her on the next plane to Los Angeles (it was the first time she had flown) for more photo sessions

When Playboy boss Hugh Hefner (left) saw Stratten's (right) photos, he booked her on the next plane to Los Angeles (it was the first time she had flown) for more photo sessions

When Playboy boss Hugh Hefner (left) saw Stratten’s (right) photos, he booked her on the next plane to Los Angeles (it was the first time she had flown) for more photo sessions

On the day — August 14, the second anniversary of her arrival in LA — that he and Stratten had arranged to discuss a financial settlement at his rented home in west LA, she ignored friends’ warnings and went there alone.

Friends said Snider had been in a generally good mood but at one point had, puzzlingly, asked them if they thought Playboy editors would pull photos of a Playmate from a forthcoming issue if she suddenly died.

Hours after Stratten arrived to see Snider at his otherwise empty house, Playboy was left facing just such a quandary when one of Snider’s housemates went into his bedroom and discovered the couple dead, both naked and each with a single shotgun wound to the head.

Police said Snider had raped Stratten, apparently strapping her to the prototype bondage rack he’d made, before killing her and then himself.

He was found still clutching strands of her blonde hair.

‘It looked like it was a horror movie — a staged horror movie — like mannequins and fake blood,’ said Snider’s housemate Patti Laurman. A police detective who investigated the case said Snider’s horrifying last act was all ‘part of his regaining his position of power’ over Stratten.

The killings rocked Hollywood and left Bogdanovich, who had been intending to marry her, devastated. When his romantic comedy, They All Laughed, which was supposed to have launched her on a major acting career, was finished the following year, 20th Century Fox refused to release it given the grisly fate of one of its stars.

Bogdanovich spent $5 million of his own money to distribute the film himself only for it to flop badly and plunge him into bankruptcy.

He raped her then killed them both

Friends say Hefner was permanently affected by Stratten’s murder. If so, Bogdanovich twisted the knife, publishing a 1984 book, The Killing Of The Unicorn, in which he said Hefner and Playboy were partly responsible for her death as they had commodified a sweet, innocent girl who wrote schoolgirl poetry, ordered plastic toys from the back of cereal boxes and made love with the lights out.

The book also accused Hefner of making life miserable for Stratten after she rejected a pass from him in a hot tub one night.

Hefner, who had a stroke when he learned about the book’s contents, countered that it was actually her affair with Bogdanovich and her marriage break-up that led to her death.

And he sensationally accused his former friend of subsequently seducing Stratten’s little sister Louise shortly after the murder when she was only 13 ‘as a pathological replacement of Dorothy’.

Bogdanovich denied this but did go on to marry Louise in 1988 — when she was 20 and he 49 — after paying for her to have cosmetic surgery that friends said made her look more like Dorothy. ‘She was like a contact with Dorothy as far as I was concerned,’ he admitted. The couple divorced in 2001.

‘[Dorothy] just had that little flaw,’ said Jeana Keough, a fellow Playboy Playmate. ‘Not being able to see the evil in people.’

A minor fault, certainly, but in her case, tragically, a fatal one.

Source: | Dailymail.co.uk

https://www.soundhealthandlastingwealth.com/celebrity/tragic-story-of-playboy-icon-whose-husband-co-founded-chippendales-played-by-nicola-peltz-beckham/ Tragic story of Playboy icon whose husband co-founded Chippendales played by Nicola Peltz Beckham

Brian Ashcraft

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