Aside from turning Playboy into one of the most iconic American brands in history, Hugh Hefner, the magazine’s legendary founder, who died on Thursday at the age of 91, also helped provide a platform to some of the world’s biggest stars.
His famous Playboy Mansion hosted even more famous parties, attended by the biggest names in the entertainment industry. With the image Playboy has fostered over the years – their ‘tastefully’ produced nude centre spreads have always been controversial – it’s easy to forget that the magazine also produces quality journalism. Some of their profiles are quoted to this day. Playboy has always had one foot in the movie business, and this is never more obvious than in the many young girls who have emerged from its pages and gone on to become huge stars.
Here, we list five of the biggest.
Playboy’s inaugural issue, published in December 1953, set the bar extremely high. Not only did Marilyn go on to become arguably the biggest movie star of her generation, she was also a tabloid favourite. Her spread was hardly controversial by today’s standards – there was only one real nude shot – but over the years, it has become iconic.
While she found greater fame as a pin-up model, Bettie Page also starred in a handful of burlesque films whose titles alone are enough to pique even the most uninterested person’s curiosity. They’re called Striporama, Varietease, and Teaserama. Page was even the subject of a biopic – The Notorious Bettie Page, in which she was played by Gretchen Mol.
Along with fellow ‘90s star, and another Playboy Playmate Jenny McCarthy, Carmen Electra rose to stardom after being featured in the magazine in 1995. Like McCarthy, she went on to star in Baywatch – the biggest show of the decade – and several high profile movies.
Arguably the biggest star to emerge out of Playboy since Marilyn, Pamela Anderson was featured in the magazine in 1989, and declared Playmate of the Year in 1990. The rest, as they say, is history. Anderson would often be seen on Hef’s shoulder over the years, even as her star rose to astronomical heights.
While Kim was arguably already moderately well-known after her leaked sextape, it was only in 2007 that she became a household name thanks to her reality show, Keeping Up With the Kardashians – the same year she posed for a series of bold photographs for Playboy’s December issue.
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