Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Unicorn

Dorothy Stratten (February 28, 1960 - August 14, 1980) was a Canadian model and actress. Stratten was born Dorothy Ruth Hoogstraten in a Salvation Army hospital in Vancouver, British Columbia, to Simon and Nelly Hoogstraten. Her parents are Dutch immigrants who married in Holland in 1954. Her brother John Arthur was born in 1961, and her sister Louise Stratten followed in May 1968.

In 1977, while working part-time at a local Dairy Queen, she met a Vancouver-area promoter and pimp named Paul Snider. Although Snider was nine years her senior, they began a romantic relationship together. Convinced Stratten could be a Playboy model, Snider took nude photos of her and sent them off to the magazine along with her mother's permission as she was only 17 years old.

In 1979, after having her surname shortened to Stratten she became Playboy's Miss August. She also found work as a Bunny at the Los Angeles Playboy Club. In June 1979, Stratten married Snider in Las Vegas, Nevada. The couple's relationship quickly deteriorated as Snider became prone to fits of jealousy and bizarre, controlling behavior; he constantly took credit for Stratten's fame, stating that he was the reason for her success, and repeatedly attempted to usurp her fame when in the presence of celebrities.

In 1980, she became Playboy's Playmate of the Year. Stratten was becoming more and more famous and Snider began to feel like a hanger-on, which infuriated him further. Hugh Heffner encouraged Stratten to end her relationship with Snider calling him "a hustler and a pimp". Other friends had also warned her of Snider's behavior and began to fear for her safety. In 1980, Stratten was cast in the Peter Bogdanovich film "They All Laughed" alongside Patti Hansen, Audrey Hepburn and John Ritter. By this time Snider's personality had turned obsessive as he became aware of Stratten's affair with Bogdanovich. Snider hired a private detective to follow Stratten and report back to him everything she did. Snider and Stratten separated, and Stratten moved in with Bogdanovich. Stratten had also made plans to file for divorce from Snider.

On 14 August 1980, Snider and Stratten met at Snider's duplex, in which the couple had once lived in Los Angeles along with their friend, Dr. Stephen Cushner. They met to discuss a financial settlement regarding the divorce. Shortly after 11:00 p.m., Cushner entered Snider's room after receiving no response from knocking. There he discovered Stratten dead from a gunshot wound to the head and Snider from a self-inflicted gunshot.

Stratten's story was portrayed in Bob Fosse's 1983 film Star 80 starring Mariel Hemingway (Stratten) and Eric Roberts (Snider). The movie was filmed in the very same house where the actual murder/suicide occurred.

Peter Bogdanovich wrote a book about her titled The Killing of the Unicorn that was released in the summer of 1984. He later married her younger sister, Louise. They divorced in 2001.

1 comment:

Daughters of Dawn said...

Great post on such a foxy lady! Can't believe I've never heard of her...especially since she comes from my very own city! Now on the hunt for Star Bob Fosse too