At age 18, Dorothy Stratten left her job at a Dairy Queen and moved to Hollywood, soon becoming famous as the 1980 Playboy ”Playmate of the Year.” In Los Angeles, Dorothy captivated the attention of legendary Playboy publisher Hugh Hefner, who had big plans for her in the Playboy empire, and powerful movie director Peter Bogdanovich, who cast her in a breakthrough role in his film “They All Laughed,” alongside iconic actors Audrey Hepburn, John Ritter and Ben Gazzara. But Paul Snider, who discovered Dorothy at the Dairy Queen and married her after they moved to Hollywood, grappled with jealousy and anger when she filed for divorce, viewing her as his ticket to success. Dorothy’s modeling and acting career came to a tragic end when Paul shot and killed her before he died by suicide. Now, almost 40 years after Dorothy’s death, a two-hour “20/20” takes a look at her life and career through the eyes of those who knew her best and explores what drove Paul to murder. “20/20” airs Friday, Oct. 18 (9:00 – 11:00 p.m. EDT), on ABC.
“20/20” includes interviews with Jeana Keough, Victoria Cooke and Rosanne Katon Walden, former Playmates who knew Dorothy well; Dr. Stephen Cushner and Patti Laurman, Dorothy and Paul’s former roommates who were the first to discover the bodies in the home they shared with Paul; Marilyn Grabowski, former Playboy photo editor; Colleen Camp, actress who starred alongside Dorothy in “They All Laughed”; actor Max Baer Jr., close friend of Dorothy and Paul; Mariel Hemingway and Eric Roberts, actors who played Dorothy and Paul in “Star 80,” the film based on their lives; and Larry Wilcox, producer of “Death of a Centerfold,” the TV movie about Dorothy’s life and death.
Dorothy first met Paul, then a local pimp and club promoter, near Vancouver, British Columbia. Paul groomed Dorothy and convinced her to take professional nude photos. He submitted the pictures to Playboy which marked the beginning of her launch to fame. In Hollywood, Dorothy snagged a lead role in the prime-time TV special “Playboy’s Roller Disco and Pajama Party.” In the last months of Dorothy’s life, she began an affair with Peter and tried to negotiate an amicable divorce from Paul. Paul killed Dorothy after she came to his home on Aug. 14, 1980, to discuss divorce settlements.
“20/20” is anchored by David Muir and Amy Robach. David Sloan is senior executive producer.