From Dairy Queen to Playboy, Dorothy Stratten’s rise to fame: Block 1

Stratten was a teenager working at a Dairy Queen in Canada when Paul Snider discovered her in 1978. Within two years, she became a Playmate of the Year with a budding acting career.
9:42 | 10/19/19

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Transcript for From Dairy Queen to Playboy, Dorothy Stratten’s rise to fame: Block 1
jealousy took over. Dorothy Stratton was once in a lifetime. She was in every respect the object of desire of dreams of many men. Reporter: A Hollywood dream gone wrong. A worker at dairy queen who became a playboy playmate. She has an innocence about her. Reporter: Her life memorialized in the film "Star 80." She became sought after by every man in the world many. Reporter: And the small-time promoter who couldn't let her I knew he was dangerous, and somehow or other she didn't see that. Reporter: The rising Hollywood star murdered when she was 20 years old. Back in 1979, Dorothy Stratton was the angelic girl next door. I'm getting over my shyness but I am very sensitive, and I'm very romantic. That's type of girl a lot of men fantasize about. A lot of men like the girl next door. Are you the girl next door? It seems to me I've never lived next door to anyone who looked like you. Well, when I came from the town that I came from, I lived with my family still. I just graduated from high school. I worked in a dairy queen for four years wearing pigtails and no makeup. Dorothy Stratton was an angel. She was a sweet, effervescent angel. She was a young girl from Vancouver, British Columbia. Very nave, high school student, had no worldly experience. She is the daughter of a woman who came over after world War II. She has almost never known her biological father. Dorothy had started working at this dairy queen when she was and she was really pleased to have found a job that young. She was 18 when a former pimp walked into the dairy queen. He's a scary character. He drove a black corvette, star of David on his chest. He made a good living as a promoter for automobile and cycling shows but it wasn't enough to accommodate his extraf kbant tastes. So he began to procure girls and pimp them on the side. So he sees this sexy girl in the dairy queen. She's a child, basically. But, you know, hmm. Hmm. What can happen for me, through her is of interest to me. He bought her beautiful jewelry, beautiful clothes. So she was totally taken in by him. Paul snider worked her insecurity and gave her compliments in the places where she felt most vulnerable. And, when you're insecure, you hear those words, they fill holes that you feel you're made up of. He's telling her, my goodness, you could be a playboy bunny. You could be this. You could be that. In her world, working in the dairy queen, not seeing a future for herself, that could be it was a whole new world for It took a little while to talk me into taking some test pictures. I had never taken my clothes off for anyone I didn't know. Eventually, she said yes, and it was just this gradual experience of saying yes, a little bit more and a little bit more and a little bit more until you suddenly find yourself as a part of this completely different world, and it's hard to look back and sort of measure how far you have come. Reporter: The photos are submitted to playboy, changing her life. To commemorate their 25th anniversary, playboy had a big playmate hunt. They had an outreach, there were going to be lots of prizes and things like that. So Dorothy was one of the runners-up. Reporter: She didn't win but playboy knew they had a star on their hands. She ended up working as a playboy bunny at the club. A lot of women come to playboy and want to be in the magazine. They're beautiful, gorgeous, but not Hugh Hefner's idea of the girl next door. A lot of men want their women of having not been around too much. Reporter: Within a year she'd got and centerfold, "Ms. August 1979." I noticed if you look at it, she's looking up. So you kind of saw the whites of her eyes. And I'm not going to say it exaggerated in a sense, but I don't think she recognized what power she had. The photos are incredible and hef's thrilled. You get your month. She was really happy hen. Reporter: Following her every step of the way, he saw Dorothy as his golden ticket. The whole idea of the playboy mansion was to be cool. Look, there are hot and cold running women here, just be cool. He knew Dorothy was his meal ticket. Who was going to give him access to anything in he looked like a putz. He had fur coats to the floor, chains, silk black shirts. He just was such a cartoon character. Paul's offensive. Paul is also, he looks small time, hef didn't. Hefner took one look at snider and one word came into his mind. "Pimp." That was the dirtiest word you could say at the mansion. Reporter: So a new idea, male stripper, dancing at chippendale's. He had a gift. He is not a soft banana. But also you have to understand that just having the idea is different than bringing the idea off. From it went nowhere under his guidance but then of course became a huge, huge business for chippendale's. The partners he was involved with took the idea, looked the idea and kicked him out of it. So he said he got ripped off on that. Reporter: At the same time, he was losing control over Dorothy. When hef introduced her to the real manager and it affected him. He was not a happy camper. Hugh Hefner saw her as someone who could be in movies and posters and shows and someone who could represent as an ambassador the playboy brand in a way that he'd been struggling to find. Hefner was never the Hollywood insider that he wanted to be. And the big producers would come to his parties and would party. But they never gave him respect. So, in order to get respect, he needed to field a star, break through star. That would give him legitimacy. And he had high hopes that Dorothy could do that. And then in '79, playboy did an hour-long special for the ABC television network, featuring the village people and Richard Dawson who was then the host of "Family feud." Reporter: That show gave her an entre into Hollywood. By 1980, she's starring in Hollywood pictures. I've done it for you. I love you, sergeant thorp. She plays this perfect female sexy, but you can't actually have sex with her perfect only as a tool to the men around her. Reporter: Her rise to stardom also seemed to be on a perfect track. She couldn't believe all this was happening to her. Every minute there was something new and exciting and people are fawning all over her. Paul snider would say we're on a rocket ship to the moon! It's we, we, we. Reporter: But he couldn't turn her back on the man who plucked her from on security one year earlier. She was the meal ticket. He loved her fame but he was jealous because he was afraid he could lose her, which he did. Reporter: Despite objections from the playboy empire, Dorothy marries him. Everybody was upset. There wasn't one person happy for her. Paul scared me, he had that need to control. As a woman, I knew that he was and somehow or another, she didn't see that. She never felt there was any danger in anything with Paul snider. Reporter: But, when she falls in love with another man, Dorothy had no idea how dangerous her husband would become.

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

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