The Playmates 60s
At the height of the Women’s Movement in the 1960s, feminists such as Gloria Steinem voiced strong criticism against Hefner’s worldview and claimed that Playboy’s focus on nudes objectified women while prioritizing men’s sexual power and privilege.
Hefner preferred hiring college students, aspiring actresses or secretaries who met initial requirements such as height and bust size.
Early Life and Education
Hugh Hefner ensured the long-term survival of Playboy when he launched it, investing all profits back into its production to ensure its longevity and seeing that it remained an important sex magazine throughout its existence in the 1950s and 60s. Its circulation skyrocketed.
Hefner intended for his Playboy girls to represent women you might encounter on an everyday basis and actively encouraged potential models with “girl-next-door appeal” to submit photos for consideration as models in Playboy.
“Casting calls” for Playmates Magazine took place across various cities to give women the opportunity to audition. Up until Hefner’s death, he personally selected each Playmate of the Month and Year.
Hugh Hefner, Playboy’s founding editor, wanted his models to appear as real women rather than pinup nudes without an accompanying narrative or backstories. Instead of featuring just pinup nudes without context or names given for each model in Playboy spreads, Hefner encouraged secondary photos that suggested their lives outside Playboy spreads.
Avis Kimble was featured as Playmate Avis Kimble for November 1962. Avis was an accomplished designer, photo stylist, poet and budding ballet dancer who later found success in film and television.
Pamela Anderson, famous for her ever-inflating chest, enjoyed a successful movie and TV career before becoming tabloid fodder for her marriages and relationship with rocker Travis Barker. Other Playmates such as Dorothy Stratten found lasting success in business or charity work while others such as Dorothy died young — at age 20 in Dorothy Stratten’s case.
Achievement and Honors
Playboy magazine has long been known for its scandalous content. But many iconic women from Marilyn Monroe to Bond girl Judi Dench have graced its pages, particularly during pinup culture’s height in the ’50s and ’60s. From Marilyn to Bond girl Judi Dench – these beautiful pinup girls have become cultural icons!
Also tragic are those Playmates who met untimely deaths as early as their 20s or 70s – from Corinne Cole and Kathy Williams to Delilah Smith and Corine Cole.
Some Playmates have achieved significant mainstream success since their time as Playboy models, including Carmen Electra, Holly Madison and Kendra Wilkinson (current host of A&E’s “Gene Simmons Family Jewels”). One of these Playmates — Shannon Tweed — also went on to pursue acting careers.
Playmates of Hefner have gone on to achieve some level of success after their time in the limelight; however, most have never gone beyond glossy magazine pages. Some may fall within Hefner’s influence (Nancy Sinatra and Gloria Steinem were used as bunny waitresses for two Show magazines articles); others, including Hef’s former wife and current partner have voiced criticism against its objectification of women and commercialism of Show magazine.
Though some Playmates had fallen away, most still seemed satisfied in their careers and remain close to Hefner (albeit peripherally). Others, most notably Dorothy Stratten who was killed shortly after joining, however “once a Playmate, always a Playmate”, according to Thomerson.
Playboy magazine was established by Hugh Hefner and has given rise to many centerfold models who became well-known for their ample chest assets. Some went on to pursue successful careers across different media while some, like Dorothy Stratten, unfortunately died young.
Playmates International was plagued with high-profile family feuds regarding ownership in the 1990s. Yet despite these challenges, Playmates managed to stay profitable thanks to its most prized license: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Once they arrived on toystore shelves, Turtle action figures quickly flew off as kids fell in love with these pizza-eating heroes of New York City sewers. Sales outside the U.S. also saw an uptick. Playmates found even greater long-term success with Nano Pals: electronic “pets” which could be petted, fed and disciplined at the press of a button.