8/14/1980 - The tragically short life (she is only 20 years old at her passing) of Canadian beauty Dorothy Ruth Hoogstraten comes to a violent end at the West Los Angeles home of her friend, Dr. Stephen Cushner, by way of a shotgun blast to the face from her manager and estranged husband, lunatic Paul Leslie Snider.
Still attending Centennial High School in the town Coquitlam, Hoogstraten is working part-time at a local Dairy Queen in 1977 when Snider "discovers" her. Snider, twenty-six, a local pimp and Vancouver club promoter turns on the charm and soon the two are paired romantically ... and professionally too as the hustler becomes his wife's manager. As such, Snider changes Dorothy's name to Stratten and orchestrates a batch of professional nude modeling shots (not yet 18, her mother has to sign a waiver for the photographer to agree to take birthday suit pictures of the teenage girl) taken of his young wife (he also forbids her to drink coffee because it might stain her pretty white teeth and secretly poisons her dog when he jealousy deems she is spending too much time with the pet). In June of 1979 the pair marry.
Sent to Playboy magazine, the photographs soon open huge doors into the world of entertainment for Stratten ... she is soon the August Playmate for 1979, and then Playmate of the Year for 1980, triumphs that cause the couple to move to Los Angeles for Dorothy to pursue an acting and modeling career (under the guidance of her husband of course). Following the move, Dorothy becomes a bunny at the Century City Playboy Club, a regular at Hugh Hefner parties at the Playboy Mansion, guest stars in television episodes of Buck Rogers and Fantasy Island, receives a small roll in the roller-skate, disco comedy, Skatetown, U.S.A., appears briefly in the movies Autumn Born and Americathon, scores the title role in the science fiction dog, Galaxina, and wins a major starring job in the Peter Bogdanovich film, They All Laughed (the movie tanks upon release and will be a major reason for the director declaring bankruptcy in 1985).
However, as doors open for Dorothy, they are closing all over town for her husband. Quickly identified by Hollywood insiders as a gold digger with sociopath tendencies, Snider eventually is banned from the Playboy mansion, is told Dorothy can't be signed to various projects with Snider as part of the package, and spends huge amounts of time building bondage table for sex shops ... bondage tables that don't sell. Frustrations growing, Snider sees the fame and fortune he was responsible for beginning to slip away, and responds by turning his beautiful wife, the source he believes of all his woes, into a punching bag ... a reaction that in turn causes his wife to dump him and move in with the new man she has fallen in love with, her director on They All Laughed, Peter Bogdanovich. It is a slight that Snider is unwilling to forget, or forgive.
Wanting to move on and begin a new life that includes marriage to Bogdanovich and more movies, Dorothy agrees to see Snider at the apartment they once occupied, and where her soon to be ex still lives (owned by Dr. Cushner), to discuss an amiable divorce ... and beginning what she intends as a buyout for professional services previously rendered, she arrives for their meeting carrying $1,000 in cash she intends to give to her estranged husband. It is a serious mistake that the Playmate model will not survive.
Playmate of the Year - 1980
Arriving shortly after noon for her appointment with Snider, Dorothy is dressed in casual flat shoes, slacks, and comfortable blouse chosen so as not to arouse or inflame her ex. It does no good. Behind the closed doors of the apartment Snider goes into a "if I can't have her, no will" monstrous rage in which he beats her, ties her to one of his bondage table using medical tape, rapes her repeatedly, and then rage not yet assuaged, the madman grabs a 12-gauge Mossberg shotgun out of a closet, shoots his wife in the face and rapes the corpse for 30 minutes (her buttocks and breasts are covered in bloody hand prints when Homicide detectives finally arrive at the scene). Over and out, the killer then turns the gun on himself ... SOMETHING HE SHOULD HAVE DONE BEFORE KILLING STRATTEN!
Sex, violence, the rich and famous ... the entertainment media of course jumps all over the story, telling the tale in countless newspaper headlines, a major article in Rolling Stone, another major article in The Village Voice (which wins a 1980 Pulitzer Prize), a book by Bogdanovich about his relationship with Stratten called Killing the Unicorn (make your own judgments, completely off the deep end over the death of his lover, Bogdanovich finds and adequate substitute and begins dating her 14-year-old sister, Louise, eventually marrying her in 1988 when she is a wizened adult, all of 20-years-old ... they divorce in 2001), a special Playbody video, an episode of "E! True Hollywood Stories," and twice turning the tragedy into major motion pictures ... Death of a Centerfold: The Dorothy Stratten Story starring Jamie Lee Curtis as Stratten and Bruce Weitz as Snider, and director Bob Fosse's Star 80, with Mariel Hemingway and Eric Roberts as the doomed couple.
Hemingway as Stratten
Off to their final destinations in Heaven and in Hell, Stratten is cremated and then her ashes interred at Westwood Memorial Park, while Snider is processed by the Malinow & Silverman funeral home and buried at Vancouver's Schara Tzedeck Cemetary.
Rest in peace Dorothy ... you left WAY too soon!