Updated 1/20/23. Playboy January 1969. Playmate of the Year Contest. Winner: Connie Kreski. Anthony Newley. James Caan.

Paige’s photo appears in the January 1969 issue of Playboy magazine. It’s also the 15th anniversary issue of the massively successful magazine and empire. The issue shows 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 obviously, it meant more photos, more publicity and more money.

Connie Kreski

The winner was born Constance Kornacki in Wyandotte, Michigan. She grew up in a strict Polish Catholic family.

She became a Michigan nursing school student and then a Playmate as Connie Kreski in January of 1968. Around the same time she moved to London and met singer/songwriter Anthony Newley.

Connie appeared to look much younger than her 21 years. This is why Anthony Newley cast her in his 1969 film “Can Heironymus Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humppe and Find True Happiness?”

Cincinnati Enquirer Sept. 8, 1968

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.

Los Angeles Times May 15, 1969

Connie Kreski met another powerful man in London and began dating him: 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.

Detroit Press Nov. 17, 1969 BetteLou Petersen celebrity column.

Well known to those who have read some 1960s social history, 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 several mourners at Sharon Tate’s funeral, on film footage seen on youtube.

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.

April 6, 1969. Long Beach Press Telegraph

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 word the entire show.

She did have more lines on other episodes of PAD, mostly the ones from 1970, the last year of the program.

The People, London. Aug. 23, 1970

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

Valley Times Mar. 25, 1969

Universal signed an extraordinary number of models, beauty contest winners and starlets in the 1950s and 60s.

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

Connie Kreski late 1960s. Possibly London.

Detroit Free Press April 27, 1969

Connie appeared on a memorable 1970 episode of Love American Style starring Kaye Ballard, Connie plays a topless waitress.

Her last credit is the mini-series Aspen from 1976.

Connie had a high profile romance with actor James Caan in the early and mid-1970s. She was identified in Hollywood news articles as his “girlfriend” and “ex-Playmate.” They got together fresh off Caan’s star making turn in the Godfather; he was much in demand by directors and studios. And by beautiful young women as well, according to several interviews at the time.

Playboy Mansion regular James Caan speaks about girlfriend Connie Kreski in NY Daily News Oct. 8, 1972

It was determined that Connie Kreski died of cirrhosis of the liver at age 48 in 1995. Laennec’s is a cirrhosis most associated with alcohol abuse over time.

What happened in her life that caused it to end this way at the age of 45?

What happened to her friendships with Hefner and Polanski and that crowd? And James Caan?

Connie Kreski is rarely mentioned in any pop culture forum. I find that strange given the people that she was seen hanging out with.

Many of these people continue to generate attention and conversation. Some are still alive, many dead. Most recently, Connie’s ex and Playboy mansion regular and good friend of Hefner, James Caan passed away on July 6, 2022. His death drew numerous accolades and a film festival is in the works.

Unusually, Caan lacks a dedicated biography. This will likely be forthcoming.

Caan hadn’t been asked about Connie since the 1970s.

Like Paige Young, Connie’s cause of death

is incorrectly identified on the internet. It usually says “blocked carotid artery” or “cancer.” Connie’s entry in The Playmate Book, mentions her death in Beverly Hills, 1995, but doesn’t state a cause. I have included closeups of her death certificate.

Connie married Louis Edelman in New York in 1986 and they set up a marital home in Los Angeles/Beverly Hills.

I corresponded with Connie’s stepdaughter Barbara Cooper. She told me that Connie became pregnant and lost a baby boy (named Zachary) when she was 6 months along. This tragedy also occured in 1986.

Cooper told me that after the loss, Connie began an obsession with calorie counting and losing weight and that she also abused alcohol.

It’s no wonder that she died so young; 10 years before her 12-years-older husband Louis.

Barbara told me how consistently kind and sweet Connie was to her daughters and to everybody.

She said that Connie never talked about Playboy, any of the Playmates, or her days in Hollywood.

More on Connie Kreski coming soon……

Sunday Mirror London. May 12, 1968