The tragic death of Playboy Playmate Dorothy Stratten

ABC News’ “20/20” takes a look at the story of Dorothy Stratten, who was just 20 years old when she was murdered by her estranged husband.
3:08 | 10/18/19

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Transcript for The tragic death of Playboy Playmate Dorothy Stratten
She was the playboy play mate murdered by her estranged husband almost 30 years ago. Amy has that story. Good morning. Reporter: It's been nearly four decades since her infamous murder, and the people who knew her best are speaking out about Dorothy stratten and her journey from a dairy queen in Canada to international stardom. Dorothy stratten, playboy play mate, actress, a living fantasy for millions of men in 1980. Dorothy stratten was almost like a fantasy of what the "Playboy" reader or fan She was just a sweet, effervescent angel. Reporter: In high school, Paul snider, a small time promoter, approached her while she was working at a dairy queen in Vancouver. He was a predator. You think of him and you think of a wolf. He sees a sexy girl at a dairy queen. What can happen for me through that's of interest to me. Reporter: Snider and stratten start dating and he convinces her to pose for submission photos. Playboy had a hunt looking for the 25th anniversary play mate. Dorothy was one of the runnersup. I worked for "Playboy" for 43 years. It was pretty easy to know if a girl was going to make it or Reporter: After catching the eye of iconic mogul Hugh Hefner, she was crowned 1980 play mate of the year, earning all of the perks that came with it. I got a -- I didn't see that one here. A $26,000 jaguar and a $25,000 check. Reporter: She started landing movie and television roles, but not before marrying snider. He pushed her to marry him. She -- I don't think really wanted to. She felt she owed him that, so she kept hoping for the best. She was the meal ticket, but he was afraid that he could lose her which he did. Reporter: As stratten rose, a big-time movie director, Peter Bogdanovich became fascinated with her, and cast her in one of his movies. Will you marry me? Okay, I will. Bogdanovich was a prince. When you are comparing filet mignon to hot dog on a stick, there's a big difference. Reporter: Between her newfound success and love affair with Bogdanovich, Dorothy decided to separate from snider. So she drove to his house and met with him there. She never felt there was any danger with anything with Paul. And then bang. She was murdered. Now after killing stratten, snider turned the gun on himself. Her life and death have inspired countless books and movies including the classic film "Star 80." I remember that. You can see the special on a special two-hour "20/20" airs here on ABC. Cecilia? We turn to our series on the

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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