Dorothy Stratten was a Canadian model and actress. She was born Dorothy Ruth Hoogstraten on the 28th of February 1960. She later shortened her surname to its more popular form. At age 19, she found fame as the Playboy Playmate of the Month of August. On 1980, a year after that gig, she was awarded Playboy Playmate of the Year. On the eve of the 14th of August 1980, Stratten was found dead, together with her husband in their apartment. She was only 20 at the time of her death.
The circumstances surrounding Dorothy Stratten’s death is still unclear up to this day. On the afternoon of the 14th of August 1980, Stratten had met with husband Snider at Snider’s apartment where they used to live together (they were separated at that time) to discuss the terms of an amicable divorce. Prior to the meeting, Snider had hired a private detective to follow Stratten around since he suspected her of having an affair with another man. This was later confirmed, as after their separation Stratten moved out to live with Peter Bogdanovich, the director of Stratten’s first major film.
Around 5 in the afternoon of Stratten’s death, two of Snider’s roommates returned home to find that Snider home and his room locked. They decided not to disturb him and left for dinner. Another roommate came home at 7 PM, and also decided not to disturb him. At 11 PM, the private detective phoned their residence and informed the roommates that Snider had not been answering his calls and that he was worried something might have happened. At the detective’s urging, Snider’s roommates broke through Snider’s room, only to find the couple dead and completely nude.
The discovery of Stratten’s death was a gruesome scene- her body was found on the bed, half of her face gone – she was blasted by a shotgun to the head. According to the police and autopsy reports, Snider had first killed Stratten and secured her in a bondage bed. He then engaged in necrophilia before finally killing himself as well.
Stratten’s death is probably a good example of a crime of passion. Snider, the estranged husband, murders his wife, Stratten, out of jealousy. Snider was known to be prone to fits of rage and controlling behavior, and was most probably mentally and emotionally unstable. He forbade Stratten to drink coffee for fear of ruining her teeth.
Eight years after Stratten’s death, Bogdanovich married her younger sister, Louise Stratten. She was only 12 at the time of Stratten’s death.
There have been two motion pictures inspired by Stratten’s death. “Death of a Centerfold: the Dorothy Stratten Story” was a 1981 film where Jamie Lee Curtis portrayed Stratten. In 1983, Star 80 was released and was shot in the very same house where Stratten was murdered. Stratten’s death was a tragic loss; she had such a bright future ahead of her.