nude photos

Dorothy Stratten (Dead Blondes Episode 13) by Karina Longworth

 Listen, download this episode, or find on iTunes.

Our Dead Blondes season concludes with the story of Dorothy Stratten. Coaxed into nude modeling by Paul Snider, her sleazy boyfriend-turned-husband, 18 year-old Stratten was seized on by Playboy as the heir apparent to Marilyn Monroe. She ascended to the top of the Playboy firmament quickly, and just after Hugh Hefner decided to make her Playmate of the Year, she met filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich, who fell in love with her and rewrote his upcoming film, They All Laughed, to give Dorothy a star-making role. After filming They All Laughed Dorothy planned to leave Snider and Playboy for life with Bogdanovich -- but her husband had other ideas. 



The documentary mentioned at the end of this episode is One Day Since Yesterday, directed by Bill Teck. The link above goes to the DVD on Amazon, but it's also available on Netflix and iTunes.

While I was doing the research for this episode, I was able to view many of the images of Dorothy that appeared in Playboy via a tumblr that has since been taken down. Many of these images are still viewable via Pinterest

Other sources:

"The Passions of Peter Bogdanovich", People, January 23, 1989

"The Death of a Playmate", Village Voice, November 5, 1980

"Hugh Hefner: Blows Against The Empire," Rolling Stone, March 27, 1986

"Peter Bogdanovich Doesn't Live Here Anymore," LA Weekly, March 27, 2002


"Behind the Scenes of the Last Picture Show," Entertainment Weekly, September 21, 1990

"Out to Lunch With Peter Bogdanovich," Vanity Fair, March 2014

"Director Bogdanovich Declares Bankruptcy" Los Angeles Times, June 4, 1997

"Peter Bogdanovich's Star Crossed Days," Washington Post, September 25, 1984


This episode was edited by Sam Dingman, and produced by Karina Longworth with the assistance of Lindsey D. Schoenholtz. Our logo was designed by Teddy Blanks.

Star Wars Episode VIII: How Norma Jeane Became Marilyn Monroe (YMRT: 34) by Karina Longworth


Listen to this episode, or find on iTunes

Today’s episode tells the secret, forgotten, and highly disputed story of the making of arguably the most potent Hollywood sex symbol of all time. In the 1950s, Marilyn Monroe embodied a male fantasy of a woman who gave freely of herself, particularly of her body, and asked for nothing in return. Her blonde bombshell persona, “dumb” but also often touchingly vulnerable, would seem to be the exact opposite of the pragmatic femininity of the World War II era epitomized by women’s films stars like Bette Davis and “we can do it!” sloganeer Rosie the Riveter. But in fact, before she was famous,Marilyn Monroe was Rosie the Riveter: at age 18, with her husband off in the Merchant Marines, Monroe went to work at an airplane parts factory. And it was there that she was discovered, thanks (in a roundabout way) to Ronald Reagan. In this episode, we’ll explore how Marilyn became Marilyn, by tracing the former Norma Jean Baker from her troubled childhood through the war years, her early struggles to get a foothold in Hollywood, and the nude photo scandal which cemented her stardom. We’ll see how the future Marilyn’s experiences mirrored those of other American woman, and the culture at large, in the post-war decade, and we’ll see how her projection of vulnerability and even victimhood would ultimately have radical implications. 

Show Notes:

Like many women, I suspect, I’ve been studying MarilynMonroe my entire life, both accidentally and on purpose. I’ve read tons about her over the years — and if you haven’t and are looking for a place to start, I would recommend All of the Available Light: A MarilynMonroe Reader — but I had never focused specifically on her pre-fame years. Knowing I would never be able to read or reread all of the writings on Monroe in the limited time I had for researching this episode, I decided to focus on two books published within a couple of years of one another, both of which purported to offer fresh analysis of the pre-Marilyn years of Norma Jeane, and neither of which I had read before.

As a feminist reconsideration of Monroe’s personal story and legacy, I found Gloria Steinem’s Marilyn to be important, and even inspiring. It does, however, gloss over some of the details of this period inMonroe’s life, a flaw you won’t find in Donald Spoto’s MarilynMonroe: The Biography. However, if Steinem’s book is transparent about looking atMarilyn through feminism-tinted glasses, Spoto’s slants are, far less explicitly, and for lack of a better word, anti-feminist. Spoto is a generally well-respected biographer and even those who call into question some of his assertions in this book agree that it’s one of the most serious biographies of his subject. But the fact remains that anyone who writes about MarilynMonroe can only cherry pick amongst the scraps of biographical information left behind, and it seems like many of her observers choose what they want to choose to constitute evidence of the “real Marilyn” versus her sex goddess persona. There are traps within Marilyn scholarship, particularly in terms of her sexual history and appetites, which Spoto didn’t invent or end, but which he does occasionally fall into. But, you know, there but for the grace of etc etc..


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