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The Horrific Murder of Dorothy Stratten

She was just a teenager dishing out soft-serve at Dairy Queen in Vancouver, Canada when she caught the attention of Paul Snider, an local pimp with aspirations of finding fame and fortune in Hollywood.

The year was 1978, and Snider saw something in young Stratten that he suspected could be profitable, so he  began grooming her for his own agenda. He convinced her to do a nude photoshoot with a  professional photographer and just like that, she was an overnight sensation.

For the next couple of years, the busty blonde ‘girl next door’ became Playboy’s Playmate of the Year and her career continued to grow at an exponential rate.

Actress Colleen Camp, who starred alongside Stratten in the 1981 motion picture ‘They All Laughed’, described Stratten as being ‘otherwordly’. Her beauty was breathtaking.

In regards to being in Stratten’s company, Camp was quoted as saying “Time would stop and you just felt like you were in a frozen moment.”

Tragically, before she could ever reach the height of her career, Stratten was brutally murdered by Paul Snider – the very man that discovered her in the first place. How could he do this to her? She had such a bright future ahead of her, but in an instant all of that was destroyed.

But there is a lot more to this tale worth telling. Keep watching to find out what motivated Snider to take Stratten’s life. Trust us, this story has a lot of twists and turns, so hold on for the ride.

From Dairy Queen To The Playboy Mansion

Stratten started working at Dairy Queen in her hometown of Vancouver, British Columbia when she was a teen to help out her mother who worked as a school lunch lady. She worked there all throughout high school. She was a senior when she met Snider.

Snider had previously made a pretty decent profit working as a promoter for automobile and cycling shows, but it wasn’t enough to accommodate his extravagant lifestyle, so he turned to pimping out young girls on the side for extra income.

He wasn’t particularly low-key about his illicit business ventures either He drove around In a flashy black corvette, wore a garish mink coat an dangled this ridiculous gem-encrusted golden Star Of David around his neck. He was known as the ‘Jewish Pimp’ and he played that persona up as much as he could.

Numerous people in Stratten’s circle knew that Snider was just a predator looking for another opportunity to fill his pockets, but Stratten was too naive to notice. She truly believed that everyone was essentially good at heart. She couldn’t fathom that some people are truly evil.

Snider took advantage of Stratten’s insecurities to achieve his goals. He knew that she was vulnerable and he tapped into that. He would shower her with lavish gifts, fancy dinners, and expensive dresses to try and buy her trust and for all intents and purposes, it was working. Snider, who was 26 at the time, even took Stratten to her senior prom when she was still a teenager.

He was like a wolf on the prowl – always looking for his next victim, and Stratten was the next prey that he had set his sights on.

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And don’t go anywhere just yet. We haven’t even gotten to the gritty details yet. Turns out, Paul Snider was one messed up guy. But before we talk about what made him snap, let’s see how he helped Stratten find her way in Hollywood before things went downhill.

Snider Convinced Her To Take Her Clothes Off

In 1978, Playboy was hosting a contest that they called the ‘Great Playmate Hunt’ to scout for new talent to be featured in the magazine centerfold for it’s 25th anniversary issue. Snider was able to convince Sratten, who was 18 at the time, to do a nude shoot with a professional photographer. He assured her that if she did so, new doors and opportunities would open for her.

Stratten was apprehensive about doing the test shots at first. In an interview with a local Canadian news channel, Stratten explained that she had never done any nude photography before, and that it took a couple weeks of Snider’s prodding for her to be convinced to do it.

When Playboy saw Stratten’s test shots, they were very impressed. They arranged for her to fly out to LA to come meet with the magazines editors. It was the first time that she ever flew in an airplane, and when she arrived, she was picked up by a limousine – another first for her.

Marilyn Grabowski, the magazine’s photo editor at the timme and close confidant of Hugh Hefner, recalls that Stratten was very naive about her own worth. She described her as ‘inexperienced, unused to her surroundings  and not used to thinking that she was really beautiful.’

She Didn’t Make The Cut At First

The January 1979 centerfold ended up going to Candy Loving, a senior at the University of Oklahoma instad. Playboy figured that she was more capable of handling the spotlight that came with the honor than Stratten was. According to Jenna Keough, Playmate of the Month for November 1980, Stratten was every bit as beautiful as Loving was but she just wasn’t ready yet for that kind of fame.

Still, Hefner was so excited about Stratten’s photo’s that he ended up naming her Miss August later that year. He also gave her a job as a Playboy Bunny at the Playboy Club in Century City. Since she was just 18, she wasn’t able serve alcohol. Instead, she worked the door and greeted people as they came in.

All of a sudden, Stratten was attending some of the most exclusive parties in Hollywood. It was a totally brand new world for her and she was super excited that the chance to expand her horizons. At the same time, she was also a bit overwhelmed by it all and clung to the only person that she knew from back home to keep her safe. Unfortunately, Snider was probably the worse person that she could have turned to for support, but she was obvious to that fact.

She would frequently call him to give him the play by play of her life. She thought that he was the cause of her success, so she leaned on him heavily and gave him more trust than she should have.

Stratten Found Her Footing While Snider Lost His

Playboy continued to welcome Stratten with open arms but Snider wasn’t received nearly as warmly. Most people found him to be offensive and a bit of nuisance. Even Hefner was beginning to grow tired of his antics.

Whenever Snider would visit the Playboy mansion he would be constantly trying to hook up with other girls despite the fact that he was with one of the most beautiful women there. Eventually he was caught with another girl and security had to kick him off. He was told that he would only be allowed back if he came with Stratten.

In June 1979. Stratten and Snider got married, despite the fact that Hefner and Grabowski both were opposed to the union. Stratten felt like she couldn’t get out the marriage even if she wanted to. From her perspective, everything that she had accomplished was only made possible because of Paul.

After appearing on Playboy’s Roller Disco and Pajama Party on ABC in 1979, Stratten began landing small roles in films and TV programs like Buck Rogers in the 25th Century and Fantasy Island.

In 1980, she was named Playmate of the Year. Additionally she landed the lead role in the Sci-Fi film ‘Galaxina”. That’s also right about the time when things started going downhill with her and Snider.

Paul had viewed Stratter as his own property. He felt like he had made her in some kind of way, so when she started to find happiness outside of the confines of their arrangement, he was furious.  Their relationship quickly unraveled and they ended up separating.

Filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich was spending a lot of time of time at the Playboy Mansion when he became acquainted with Stratten. He quickly became infatuated with her and decided to write her a role for his upcoming film “They All Laughed” starring John Ritter, Audrey Hepburn and Ben Gazzara. It was going to be her big break.

Snider on the other hand was becoming increasingly desperate as he lost more and more control over Strattens’s career. At one point he tried to finish up a project that he had started with Stratten before they got married but when she saw the design, she turned down the deal. 

That was the last straw. After that shut down, Snider had no further income. He began to realize that without her, he had nothing. No body admired him, he didn’t own anything, Even Hugh Hefner wasn’t going to invite him back to the mansion – he was done.

Around this time, Paul met another teen girl named Patti Laurman whom he was trying to turn into his next Playboy model. She even moved into his West LA home. Laurman described Snider as being obsessed with Stratten and very distraught over the fact that she was no longer in his life.

Stratten ended up falling for and moving in with Bogdanovich after they finished up filming in New York. She then met with Snider and expressed her desire for a peaceful separation. She even offered a settlement for Snider since he had helped her to get to Hollywood.

That’s when he snapped.

At first, he borrowed a revolver from a friend and started lurking outside Bodganovich’s house. But after his friend asked for his gun back, Snider bought a 12 gauge shotgun from someone in the classifieds. He picked up the weapon on the evening of August 13, 1980.

Like Something Out Of A Horror Film

The day after Snider had obtained the gun, Stratten went over to his house to negotiate the terms of their divorce, despite the fact that everyone close to her had warned her not to go alone.

Laurman left earlier that morning because she knew that Stratten was coming over and didn’t want to make things difficult and Snider’s roommate, Dr. Cushner, had spent the previous evening with a girlfriend and subsequent went straight to work in the morning.

When Laurman and Cushner came back home, they noticed that Stratten’s Mercury Cougar was parked in front of the house, so they assumed that Stratten and Snider had reconciled their differences and were spending some time together. After a few hours of silence, Cushner and Luarman decided to go check in.

After knocking on the door with no answer, Cushner opened the door

What he found was like something straight out of a horror film. Snider and Stratten were both dead – naked in a  pool of blood

Police were later able to determine that Snider had raped Stratten before he shot her in the face. After he killed her, he turned the gun on himself and committed suicide. Stratten was just 20 years old when she died

Stratten’s death sent shockwaves across Hollywood. It was very clear that she was an up and coming star who had a lot of potential but the world would never get the chance to see her shine. She could have gone far but instead her spark was snuffed out before she was given the chance to blossom.

Do you think that Stratten would have become a superstar if she hadn’t been murdered? Let us know what you think in the comments section below. And before you go, take a moment to give this video a like and subscribe to our channel if you haven’t already. While you’re at it, go ahead that tap that bell icon to turn on notifications. That way you can keep up with all of our upcoming videos.

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