Playboy January 1969. PMOY Contest. Winner Connie Kreski. Gowland’s Ridgid Calendar 69/70. Playboy Calendar 1970. Updated 5/22/22

Paige’s photo appears in the January 1969 issue of Playboy magazine (it’s also the 15th anniversary issue) along with all 12 Playmates of 1968, a brief update accompanies each one.

The contestants are in the running for the soon-to-be-named Playmate of the Year 1969. The Playmate of the Year was a big deal. A higher status title than Playmate of the Month; more photos, more publicity, more money with a PMOY win.

Photo by Peter Gowland January 1969 Playboy magazine.
Update on Paige in the Playmate Roundup January 69 Playboy issue.
Paige Young appears in the 1970 Playboy wall calendar.

Connie Kreski

The winner was Connie Kreski: a Michigan nursing school graduate, Playmate in January of 1968 and quickly turned starlet owning a camera ready face. She appeared to look 16 but was in reality 21. Which is why Anthony Newley cast her in his 1969 released film “Can Heironymus Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humppe and Find True Happiness?” Connie plays Mercy, Anthony is Heironymus and his wife Joan Collins plays his wife in the film named Polyester Poontang. It was pretty much a flop and skewered by the critics.

January Playboy 1970
Playboy January 1969. Connie’s photo above goes with this update. The photo is an entire page in the magazine issue. Only 2 other Playmates in the PMOY contest were given that honor. Was this a way of indicating which Playmate was favored in the running? Maybe these 3 were the final 3.

Connie Kreski had gone to London and dated Hefner’s partner and close friend at Playboy: Victor Lownes. Lownes was head of the Playboy Club and casino in London during the Swinging Sixties.

Connie Kreski with Anthony Newley, famous singer, director and star of Can Hieronymus Find Happiness… Newley was married to Joan Collins at the time and was friends with Victor Lownes and Hugh Hefner. He appeared on Playboy After Dark at least once.

Famously, Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate had their wedding reception at the London Playboy Club in 1968; Lownes, Hefner and Polanski were close friends.

Connie and Victor are seen together with many mourners on youtube film footage of Sharon Tate’s funeral.

Victor Lownes is the person seen in a famous photo holding up a collapsing Roman Polanski at Sharon Tate’s funeral.

Connie has about 10 TV and film appearances after “Hieronymus.”

She appeared as a guest on the Merv Griffin and Joey Bishop talk shows.

She go-go danced on Laugh-In, was introduced on Playboy After Dark TV show by Hugh Hefner as “Connie Kreski, our Playmate of the Year.” Connie does not say one damn word the entire show.

Connie made several visible but non-speaking appearances on Playboy After Dark. Anthony Newley appeared on the show at least once and was known to hang around Mansion West.

Connie with Roman Polanski, Barbi Benton, Hugh Hefner, probably in Europe and likely a year or so after Sharon Tate and the others were murdered.
Connie Kreski with gloves, one of her prizes for winning PMOY.

Kreski’s newspaper press indicates she was signed to a 7 year contract with Universal Studios

Universal signed an extraordinary number of models, beauty contest winners and starlets in the 50s and 60s.

After a few years Connie’s contract with Universal was dropped which merited one sentence in a Hollywood gossip column.

Connie Kreski with her boyfriend of the 1970s, James Caan, at the premiere of The Godfather in NYC. March 12, 1972. Connie became involved with Caan after she was dumped by Victor Lownes for another PMOY: Marilyn Cole. Caan dumped Kreski to marry Elvis girlfriend and Playboy cover model Sheila Ryan in 1976. That marriage lasted about one year and produced Scott Caan.
Playboy Mansion regular James Caan speaks about girlfriend Connie Kreski in NY Daily News Oct. 8, 1972

Connie Kreski died of cirrhosis of the liver at age 48 in 1995.

Death Cert. Connie Kreski under her birth name: Constance Joanne Kornaki
Reason for death after autopsy

What happened in her life that it ended this way? I am beginning my research to answer this question. Like Paige, Connie’s cause of death is incorrectly listed on the internet. It usually says “blocked carotid artery” or “cancer.” I don’t know what cause of death is listed in “The Playmate Book,” on Connie’s entry, but I do know it does not say “Cirrhosis of the liver.”

One of the Gowlands long time employers, 1964-2002, was the Ohio-based Ridge Tool Company, a hand tool manufacturing company, using the “Ridgid” brand name.

Ridgid Tool Company became famous for its’  2-year calendars featuring images of bikini-clad models holding various tools made by Ridgid. I’m guessing Ridge sent these calendars every year to clients who purchased their tools.

Paige appears in the 69/70 edition, cover below.

Paige appeared in the 69/70 edition of the famous Rigdig Tool Calendar with fellow Playmates Reagan Wilson and Mercy Rooney (Merci Montello)below. The calendar does not identify them as Playmates. Collection of the author.
Playmate, model Reagan Wilson posed for Peter Gowland several times in the late 1960s.
Mercy Montello model/starlet was a favorite of the Gowlands and appeared in many of their instructional books, late 60s early 70s. She worked at the Los Angeles Playboy Club as a Bunny. She married Mickey Rooney Jr. and was Playboy Playmate in December of 1972 under the name Mercy Rooney.

Many more models, starlets and Playboy Playmates were unnamed models in these Ridgid Tool calendars over the decades. One did go on to great fame: Raquel Welch.

From 1964 until 2002, Peter and Alice photographed models for the Ridgid Tool Calendar (Ridge Tool Company). Some of the models who appeared in those calendars include Raquel Welch, Stephanie Drake, Kathy McCullen, Cindy Margolis, and several Playboy Playmates, including Renee Tenison, Nikki Schieler, Barbara Moore, Heidi Sorensen and Penny Baker.

from Michael at glamourphotographers.yolasite.com

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