Star 80By Geronimo Louis and Justine Suzanne Jones
Photos By Aaron Cobbett
Dorothy Stratten was born Dorothy Ruth Hoogstraten to Dutch immigrants in Vancouver, B.C. in 1960. A preening, self-styled promoter named Paul Snider, a decade her senior, plucked Dorothy from behind the counter of the local Dairy Queen. He coaxed her into posing for amateur nude shots and the two were later married in a quickie Vegas ceremony. The photos lead to a phone call from Playboy to come to Los Angeles. The marriage would lead to murder.
In 1979, the same year she and Snider were married, Dorothy Stratten was named Playboy’s Miss August. In 1980, she became Playmate of the Year. Whether she was posing on roller skates, the hood of a car or splashed across a centerfold, she exuded a creamy innocence—an innocence that would be immortalized in these photographs like a bug in amber. Dorothy Stratten never made it past the age of 20.
She was making steps toward a legitimate acting career, getting parts in TV shows and films. Her soft-porn beginnings were just a launching pad—in what is described as her last interview, posted on the tribute site dorothystratten.com, Stratten says,
“I can learn, I am learning, and I hope to become a proficient, eventually a good actress. Several have made the transition from sex symbol to being taken seriously—that’s something I yearn for.
Snider and Stratten’s marriage hit the rocks before their one-year anniversary. Stratten began an affair with film director Peter Bogdanovich. Snider hired a private investigator to report on all his wife’s illicit behavior. It all came to a head on August 14, 1980. Snider murdered his estranged wife at the duplex they once shared, and then killed himself.
In life, Dorothy Stratten was just another actress on the fringe of fame. In death, she became a cult goddess. Films were made about her. Books were written about her. In 1983, Bob Fosse wrote and directed Star 80, a docudrama about the Stratten murder, starring Eric Roberts. And SWINDLE photographer Aaron Cobbett was haunted by the ghost of the former Playmate—this fashion spread is an homage to her brief and perhaps misguided courtship of celebrity.