Posted on August 21, 2020
Nick Lees, a writer for the Edmonton Journal, wrote the following article in 1981.
Nick Lees returned to his job at the Edmonton Journal 7 years after he was fired for leaving on his unscheduled vacation with Paige.
Is Nick the reason Paige missed her contracted appearance at the winter sports show? Did she make up this“sudden illness” excuse?
The part in Lees’ article about Paige Young being from Sacramento and a dental assistant, I don’t buy it. There is too much proof that she was born and lived in Los Angeles her entire life. Plus, I don’t see her going through the rigors of dental school and the “9-5 doldrums.” Paige may have told this fib to Lees or he remembers incorrectly.
Lees had a long career at the newspaper as a popular columnist.
The text at right is from an article about Lees, written by journalist Michael Hingston. The article appeared in Canadian Avenue magazine sometime in the early 2000s.
I thank Edmonton writer Michael Hingston for sending me this portion of his notes that were not included in his published story.
Lees’ opinion of Paige seems to have softened over the years. He sounds more resentful in 81.
Lees specifies the Colorado Rockies as the mountains he and Paige escaped to (Vale above actually spelled Vail) rather than the Canadian Rockies as he says in 81.
Nick doesn’t indicate any knowledge of Paige’s suicide in 1974, either in his 1981 column or his more recent interview with Michael Hingston.
I have been unable to get in touch with Nick Lees.
Lees was in the hospital a few years ago per a facebook post.
Below is an entry from a blog of the late Bob Sanders who blogged about his lengthy and diverse career with mass-media companies and corporations.
There is some fascinating social history here, from a “regular American working man with a family,” whose employers included TV Guide and then Playboy, where he met Paige Young.
I never learned her real name, but Paige Young, Playboy magazine’s “Miss November” of 1968, was absolutely perfect for a rather challenging assignment: Creating interest in a mediocre TV series.
“Playboy After Dark,” was a follow-up to “Playboy’s Penthouse” which also starred Hugh Hefner, pipe in hand. In both the original and the reincarnation, an elevator whisked viewers to a penthouse where host Hefner, his free arm wrapped around his then current squeeze as we called them, feigned surprise at another drop-in, finally announcing who was in the house to perform. It was pretty awkward stuff.
I met Paige late in January, 1969. That was three months after her appearance in the magazine; an illness had prevented what would have been a timely trip to Chicago. Page was in town to collect $10,000 then awarded Playmates who now receive $25,000 with $100,000 going to the Playmate of the Year. They got to stay a week or so at the Playboy Mansion, attend parties, make personal appearances and meet Hefner, a cultural summit for most. One of my contributions to the process was to interview each of them to determine if they could be of promotional help. Among a year’s monthly winners, you could count on two being particularly good or outstanding. Paige was one of the latter and who could forget either her center-fold or the woman in person? Peter Gowland did the photography in Los Angeles posing a prone Paige, back scratcher in hand. The flashing brown eyes did no harm to the overall effect.
It was a few months before I met Paige that Hefner’s reclusive life style began undergoing a change. The not-so-poor-man’s Howard Hughes had come out of his shell swearing off the uppers and downers that enabled him to stay awake editing his magazine three days at a time. Not only had Hefner hit the streets to observe police outrage during the 1968 Democratic National Convention but he would soon return to the TV trough with “Playboy After Dark” scheduled for Screen Gems release.
Owned by Columbia Pictures, the first major studio to learn to live with the new medium through the creation of a subsidiary, Screen Gems not surprisingly realized the series was a tough sell. They backed off midway through production refusing to promote the show for an additional good reason. Screen Gems had a huge backlog of product including a boatload of Perry Masons–271 to be exact. Up to that point, my involvement was little more than choosing pictures from contact sheets provided by a Hollywood photographer. I soon learned Hefner had little use for black and white photography, perhaps because Playmates’ skin tones looked much more ravishing in color. It was as though black and white was O.K. for Citizen Kane and little more in Hefner’s opinion. I began to bootleg photography; pictures I used to promote the firm’s Lake Geneva resort via newspapers were actually shot by a Chicago Tribune snapper assigned to a narrowly focused feature about the hotel. I paid him $100 after his gig to shoot what I needed: pictures that went beyond architectural renderings ordered by my predecessor. I was never questioned by my management about the photos I used because it was assumed the pics were transferred from color to black and white. Had I gone that route, the shots would have lost about 20% of their sharpness.
Corporate expenses will always be a subject of much conjecture. During what turned out to be 40 years spending other people’s money, I was questioned but once. That was while working for TV Guide in St. Louis, my first gig for the magazine. The year was 1955, eight months after we opened; the office manager, a hopeful sort, had determined we should send parents of newborn children copies of the magazine. Names and addresses of the parents were gleaned from pages of local newspapers and the copy, set in five point agate type, required a magnifying glass to determine accuracy. It was regional manager Arthur Shulman who asked me what the hell was I doing spending $1.99 of TV Guide’s money in such strange fashion?
Playboy was far and away the least concerned of my employers about spending money. Hefner made it clear that he wanted things done in the best possible manner. It was terrific working for a firm striving for promotion efforts done, as Hefner suggested,” first class.” I never took advantage of the situation there or anywhere else.
That early contact sheet assignment for “Playboy After Dark” involved work by an independent photographer, a rather strange determination considering the number of excellent snappers on the payroll. Admittedly, they were rather specialized.
It was while looking at pictures of the fifth show that I found the best shots–maybe ever–of Hefner. All of them found him next to one of the show’s chickie poos. Soon my hunch was verified. Barbie Benton, then a theater major at UCLA–had become a regular on the show eventually attaining status as Hef’s significant love of eight years. I ordered a dozen of one picture of the adoring couple I had cropped from a group shot.
On a trip to Los Angeles, promotion director Nelson Futch and I learned at a meeting called by Screen Gems that its management had determined a preference for releasing “Perry Mason” starring Raymond Burr, then successful in keeping quiet his homosexuality, over the ultimately virile Hefner. It was regarded as a savage blow and Futch, unperturbed, turned the project over to me immediately following the meeting. That was when I thought of Paige Young.
A couple of months passed during which I worked my ass off concentrating on the show. One day Futch and I got a hurry up call to meet with Hefner at The Mansion. Oh, yes. Bring the promotion work. After waiting four hours during which Futch put the Benton/Hefner photo on top the pile of my creativity, we finally entered his office. Our meeting followed one between Hef and his editor-in-chief A.C. Spectorsky–the man who, among many things, coined the word “exurbanites.” Moments later, Hefner spotted the photo, held it up to the light and did a series of gyrations reminiscent of Charlie Chaplin’s examination of the world in The Great Dictator.
“Where did you get this?” he asked–a pretty dumb question under the circumstances unless a UCLA photo-journalist had grabbed a shot of the Bunny King attired in a silly Edwardian suit while visiting one of Barbie’s acting classes.
“The fifth show,” I replied.
“Can I have one?” he asked in very boyish fashion as if I were the editor of the high school year book and he, infatuated by a photo of his best girl.
“Would you like six? I can get you at least five more.” That was it. He never looked at any of the rest of my promotional efforts. Apparently, he had decided the Hef/Barbie choice was sufficient. The picture became paramount in the print promotion of the show.
The series played in something like 21 markets with the stations located north and south from Minneapolis to Miami and east to west from New York to Los Angeles. Among them were two Lafayettes–Indiana and Louisiana–plus other locations across the fruited plain and Canada where the program was seen in Montreal. The series had but one show worth viewing; it starred Sammy Davis, Jr., Anthony Newley, Jerry Lewis and Peter Lawford, the latter of unique adroitness: dressing up a set.
Hefner’s published comments on the series and his host role give pause: “It’s better than the ‘Johnny Carson Show’ or the ‘Joey Bishop Show’ and I do a better job hosting than Ed Sullivan does.”
KTLA, the then Gene Autry-owned independent channel , bought the series and we scheduled a party for what was then called the Playboy Building at 8560 Sunset Boulevard. Built in the early 1960s, it had a parking lot to the west set beneath 10 stories of reinforced concrete. It is now part of the Sunset Millennium Project–three buildings totaling approximately 300,000 square feet of office space.
Back then, my attention was captivated by a huge windowless area of the building’s west façade. Recalling all the “Playboy After Dark” color photos taken on the set, I wondered if we could project pictures on the wall in a rotating series of six or so with enticing copy to promote the show. I found a Swedish company with equipment about the size of a small TV set which we secured at the entrance to the parking lot.
My idea had unusual origins. Years before, comedian Red Skelton had a neighbor in Palm Springs he didn’t like or so the story went. The guy, a moralistic type, had a white stucco home with a large wall visible to the street. In reaction to the neighbor’s latest outrage, Skelton began showing adult movies on the fellow’s home.
In the fall of 1969, eastbound Sunset Blvd. motorists were confronted by color photos of scantily clad young ladies in addition to 30-ft pipe-clutching Hefs and bug cute Barbies.
We had a minor “Playboy After Dark” promotion problem which never surfaced. Paige Young had not appeared in the series having turned down a request. Thoughtful and intelligent, she had other things to do, notably painting. Horses were a subject dear to her as I learned during time out on the north side of Phoenix where many Arabian thoroughbred farms used to exist.
Paige was a total delight. One time she flew to Minneapolis where I met her at the airport before we moved on to newspaper, magazine and broadcast interviews. After a couple of days, we flew to Miami for more of the same. Phoenix was particularly productive offering a good example of the Playboy mystique. Shortly after our arrival, I learned a local PR representative hired by us had not set up any interviews. I made five phone calls to the TV stations then located in the area and placed Paige on each channel for interviews–mostly on news programs. It may have been a very slow news day, but getting that kind of attention on such short notice with little going for us except the Playboy mystique was absolutely amazing; the series was about to be carried on one of those five stations. The trick was to set up the interviews along different lines emphasizing such things as the magazine and Paige’s appearance in it, her life and travels, and what Hugh Hefner was really like.
During my Playboy Enterprises days there was a story, probably apocryphal, told about Hefner by Victor Lownes who was, in my opinion, a promotional genius responsible for a lot of the magazine’s (and later the clubs’) success. Lownes had introduced a young woman to Hefner, referring to him as “a living legend.” The couple wandered off to a nearby bedroom where, scant minutes later, the woman emerged commenting to Lownes: “And you call that a living legend?” Hey, nobody bats 1.000.
It was no secret Lownes had been run out of Chicago after dallying with a teen-age TV star. Adding to the speed of his departure was her being the daughter of a high profile newspaper columnist. Lownes settled in London where he established the London Playboy Club, then gained a gambling permit. It wasn’t long before he had created a lifestyle many thought at least the equivalent of Hefner’s; included was Stocks, an impressive manor house. While Benny Dunn was dressing up Hefner’ Chicago Gold Coast home with people from the entertainment world, Lownes was attracting a much broader spectrum of notables.
Things went nicely for Lownes. Treated as a company hero as Playboy Enterprises peaked during my years there, his short returns to Chicago were largely joyous occasions although Lownes could be a jerk. Circulation of the magazine hit 6,000,000, the hotels were showing promise, and the clubs were doing well thanks to Victor’s London gambling license. Suddenly, in 1981, England’s gaming commission yanked the permit. Some Arabs, among the club’s highest rollers, had been given markers by Lownes and the license was pulled. To this day, Lownes denies the charges. No question the timing was dreadful. Hefner was in the midst of what turned out to be an unsuccessful attempt to get a gambling permit for Atlantic City and the London catastrophe played a major role. An earlier New York City liquor license obtained under questionable circumstances was another.
The relationship between old friends Hefner and Lownes cooled. The latter eventually left the organization and wrote a tough but largely accurate book about his former pal and a public company having difficulty adjusting to a world enormously changed since Hefner planned the magazine in his kitchen nearly 30 years before. The magazine business was undergoing upheavals of its own. Penthouse, inspired by Hefner but tawdry by comparison, offered full frontal nudity and Playboy met the challenge. Marilyn Cole, who later married Lownes, was the first Playmate to be so photographed.
While my association with Paige Young remained purely professional, I’m sure a lot of people in the home office and air travelers thought otherwise. The airport scenes were rather wondrous. Paige wore big floppy hats in a great variety of singular colors. We arranged our airport meets so that scheduled arrivals in those halcyon days of dependability were very close. I could spot her hat from impressive distances and she could do the same with me although I never wore a floppy hat. The last half of our promotion tour found us running toward each other in airports and embracing in corny displays suggesting to many that we were something we weren’t.
So many memories remain including a rainy night in New Orleans during which we ran barefoot through the French Quarter (she was a physical fitness nut) and were later entertained by the Playboy Club’s musical director, Al Belletto, one of the few non-Dixie musicians in town. A Stan Kenton discovery, Belletto introduced us to such people as Al Hirt, Pete Fountain and Eddie Miller, the Fred Astaire of tenor saxophonists. When I met Miller, I made the observation and he said: “I think that’s the nicest thing anyone has ever said about me.”
Paige and I lost track of each other and I attempted to find her on the internet some five years ago. I wish I hadn’t. She had committed suicide at age 30, six years after we stopped promoting Hefner’s TV show.
I can’t recall a single clue that might have suggested such a splendid blithe spirit was capable of such a decision.
A woman contacted me by e-mail about 4 years ago and said she was the daughter of the late Bob Sanders.
She told me that when the Daily Mail article was published, she was relieved that her father was not alive to learn that Paige’s method of suicide was a gunshot to head, not an overdose of drugs. She said learning that would have greatly upset him.
Bob’s daughter also wrote that she thinks despite what her father wrote in his blog post, there many have been a fling of sorts between Bob and Paige.
Because of the Nick Lees story, I don’t think Bob Sanders travelled with Paige to Edmonton, she was likely travelling on her own at this point.
If you read the chapter on 1969–there are several articles that mention Bob Sanders, not by name but by profession, as Paige’s “handler,” “assistant,” even “flak.”
# # # #
Category: 1960s, 1970s, LA Locations, Playboy, PMOM Tagged: 1960sPlayboy, 1969, Avenue Magazine, Bob Sanders, Edmonton Canada, Edmonton Journal, Hugh Hefner, Michael Hingston, Nick Lees, Paige Young, Peter Gowland, Playboy Clubs, Playboy History, Playboy Playmate, TVGuide, Victor Lownes, Vintage Playboy Playmate
Posted on July 12, 2020
1968 November Paige Young appears as Playboy Magazine’s Playmate of the Month.
This will be her primary “claim to fame” in popular culture. Well-known pin-up photography team and married couple Peter and Alice Gowland were the photographers. Alice has said she clicked the shutter on the “back-scratch” centerfold. (From Playboy interview with Alice Gowland)
The Playmate story of Paige Young is that of a full-time painter who admits to the difficulty of this endeavor, but loves the fact that “My time is my own.” Paige lives in Malibu, is a scuba diver and gourmet cook who loves to host beach cookouts for friends. She can often be seen running on the beach with her Weimaraner named Joshua.
Paige hates the “9-5 doldrums.”
Maybe you already know that Paige Young’s other “claim to fame” is appearing on internet lists and articles about Playboy Playmates who died young and/or committed suicide. (See my “About” page.)
1969 is clearly Paige’s most documented year: She travelled the US, Canada and Japan, as part of her contract with Playboy to make appearances and give interviews to promote the TV show Playboy After Dark (PAD). And basically to function as a brand ambassador.
What follows are several articles I found from 1968 and 1969 on a newspaper archive website.
Take the time to read the articles, if you want a little insight into the person that was self-named Paige Young. I apologize for the quality of a few of them.
Some articles are revealing and appear to be truthful. Paige gives a few contradictory answers on the subject of her body and weight for centerfold “acceptability.”
I think this trip to the Boston Auto Show was her first stop on the tour, Oct. 26-Nov. 2, 1968. That makes Paige the Playmate of the current issue of Playboy magazine during the event.
“I met Paige when I was 14. She was signing autographs at the Boston car show. in late 1968. We talked about art. She was intelligent, beautiful, and kind. I’m looking to find original art by her as I think she was a great artist who was hobbled by her beauty. ” Feedback left by a reader, Daniel, he describes more details in the e-mail below:
I vividly remember Paige. She was beautiful and intelligent.”
” I was 14 years old. My friend had dared me to ask her to sign the centerfold, but she politely demurred and signed the first page of her pictorial which was a headshot. She also gave me an autographed photo. Unfortunately, my grandmother was horrified and it was all confiscated and thrown away.I told her that I admired her portrait of Truman Capote and she immediately brightened. She said art was what she “really wanted to do.”
I would love to find paintings by her to buy. But I imagine that not many survived.
Daniel- Thank you for sharing your memory, it’s very much appreciated!
ALSO in 1969...
Paige continued to battle ex- husband Mark F. Segal, who had yet to pay for 5 of the 6-months alimony he owed her and Marvin M. Mitchelson since 1964. By now her law firm was Silverton, Ruderman and Graf of Studio City.
Paige visits NYC in June of 1969
1969 In March and April, images of Paige wearing a polka dot bikini appeared in dozens of USA newspapers; she was named “Queen of the Fleet” for the first annual Desert Sailboat Regatta, to take place in the fairly new city of Lake Havasu City, Arizona. (LHC)
I think some context is important, so briefly...
“Lake Havasu City is in western Arizona. It’s known as a base for trails in the nearby desert and water sports on Lake Havasu. London Bridge, relocated from England, links the mainland to marinas and a looped path in an area known as the Island.” wikipedia
Lake Havasu City, Arizona was established in 1963 after businessman Robert McCulloch purchased the land in 1958.
McCulloch bought the London Bridge in 1968 when the City of London placed it for auction. He had an idea that it would be a successful lure for tourists and potential home buyers.
McCulloch bought 100s of ads in different newspapers across the US, from LA to Davenport, he promoted a vacation to LHC, and as a land investment. Just two examples below.
LHC placed the London bridge about 1 year after Paige appeared as “Queen of the Fleet.” McCulloch was advertising it way before.
Queen Paige Young and the Regatta Sailing event, were designed by McColloch to advertise the marvelous boating and water recreation activities available in LHC.
And hey, maybe you will enjoy yourself so much you will want to live in Lake Havasu City year round!
As you can see, this particular photograph of Paige as “Queen of the Fleet,” was a popular one.
This article (April 16, 2021) mentions Robert McCulloch as regatta chairman and details information about the boats entered. Probably because it’s in the “Outdoor” section of the paper.
With the exception of the last, this next set of clippings refer to Paige as “graduating from Van Nuys High School.”
I have researched classmates.com for many hours, in the years she would have attended and/or graduated: 1959-1962.
I have been unable to find any Paige Young or Diana Cotterell in the VNHS yearbook, nor can I find her class photo in yearbooks of Grant High School, North Hollywood High School or Birmingham High School.
These high schools were all very near where Paige was living, if she lived with Virginia or Donna and stepfather Jack Holroyd. And according to directories and voter registrations, they lived a few blocks from Grant High School on Oxford and then in Panorama City at 8533 Ventura Canyon Blvd. between 1960-1964.
Her name is Joan Edwards and she attended and graduated from Van Nuys High School in 1962. This should have been Diana/Paige’s graduation year also. She told me that she doesn’t remember seeing or talking to Diana after the end of their VNJH years.
It’s possible Paige dropped out of high school after the 9th grade, 1959. Her grandfather, Ned LaRocca, died in November of that year. Many of the interviews from 69 state she began painting professionally at age 16.
Could it be related? I don’t know. But possibly.
If she did attend or graduate from a high school, it definitely wasn’t Van Nuys High School.
The UPI photos never mention Paige’s title of Playboy Playmate, but the local Lake Havasu City paper does.
Notice the references to Playboy “Bunny.”
ALSO Notice the information of Paige’s appearance on the Jonathan Winters Show in the Lake Havasu article.
The terms Playmate and Bunny became interchangeable in the media very quickly. Here is another example; ad from a Fresno mall appearance with Playmate Lisa Baker.
Playmate of the Year 1967, Lisa Baker, was also supposedly on the Winters show.
I’ve been unable to find any credits for Paige or Lisa on the Jonathan Winters Show 1967-1969. The show was filmed at CBS Television City on Fairfax, as was Playboy After Dark. PAD ran from 68-70.
Paige and Lisa’s roles may have been as extras or “background décor.” I viewed several episodes of the show at the Paley Center for Media in Los Angeles and I could not spot Paige Young.
I haven’t yet been able to find Paige as an extra on Playboy After Dark; I have not viewed every episode though.
(I did find images of a dancer on Winters show that looked strikingly like Paige. It was eerie. The choreographer of the show was Robert Banas.)
The Paley Center does not own every episode of the Jonathan Winters show and neither does UCLA.
There have been several incarnations of Jonathan Winters show. The one from 67-69, had guests stars: The Doors, Barbara Eden, Vic Damone, Della Reese, The Smothers Brothers, Ray Charles, Nancy Sinatra, Tom Jones and many others.
Please see chapter Richard Sample interview for more on Jonathan Winters and a possible connection to Paige Young.
1969 travels continued…
In the summer of 69, Paige is interviewed for an article in “West,” an LAT magazine, featuring a few young people who reside in the “geographically desirable” community of Marina Del Rey.
Article tells about hip Marina Del Rey, considered “G.D.” It stands for “geographically desirable.”
(As opposed to the SFV or Pasadena?)
Paige lives in a houseboat in Marina Del Rey.
Wait, doesn’t she live in Malibu!?
This is the only reference to Paige living in Marina Del Rey that I found, so far. Update on May 19, 2021: Richard Sample told me that this is when he last saw Paige, living in her houseboat on the Marina. 69 or 70
1969 continued, still touring…..Montreal
Article says she met Hefner only once briefly in response to the writer’s slightly provocative question.
By the end of her life she knew Hefner more closely in her hometown of Los Angeles.
Shippy, long-time columnist, has a conversation with the chaperone and Playboy PR man accompanying Paige Young. We know it is Bob Sanders. Shippy derisively refers to Sanders as a “flack.” Not in person I presume.
During their conversation Shippey notices Paige “sitting there looking lovely and trying not to fall asleep. ” The attention goes back to Paige.
She says she is a self taught artist turned actress, with an art studio in Venice and drama lessons with Jeff Corey. So far though, she has only had a non-speaking role on the Jonathan Winters show and as an audience member on the set of PAD.
UPDATE May 19, 2021 Richard Sample (see my interview with him) told me that Paige knew Hefner while she worked at the Playboy Club on the Sunset Strip, mid to late 1960s. Hefner had not yet moved to LA full-time. When this article was published it was almost certainly her first time visiting the Chicago Playboy mansion.
August of 1969, this photo appeared one week after the Tate/LaBianca murders in Paige’s hometown of Los Angeles. Many people around at the time, have talked about the traumatic impact the murders had on the residents of Los Angeles.
September 1969: Japan
September 1969 Edmonton
Several local ads announcing the first annual “Winter Fun and Snowmobile” show in Edmonton.
As you will see by the following news articles, the scheduled appearance by November 1968 Playmate Paige Young was publicized as a highlight of the show.
But when it gets to the big day……
Devin Sheedy, women’s snowmobile speed record holder, steps in for an ailing Paige Young.
*For more information a possible reason for Paige’s illness in Edmonton, see the chapter on Nick Lees”*
1969 The articles show us that most of Paige’s year is taken up with Playboy promotional traveling and appearances; autograph signings at car shows, Playboy Clubs, TV stations, Battle of the Bands, radio interviews, newspaper interviews, etc.
The Edmonton Winter Sports show in late September of 69 is the latest date I’ve have found for her promotional appearances. (So far.)
Boston Auto Show: late Oct. 1968 to the Edmonton show: late Sept. 1969, is just under one full year. Perhaps Paige completed the contracted one-year to Playboy. Seems like she had really “had it” by the end.
Or was it just a ruse to run off with Nick Lees?
I don’t know how many people know that Sirhan-Sirhan’s hometown was Pasadena.
RFK of course, had been assassinated in Los Angeles June of 1968. Location: the famous Ambassador Hotel.
Category: 1960s, LA Locations, Playboy, PMOM Tagged: #Paige Young, #PlayboyPlaymate, 1969, alimony, Bob Sanders, Boston Auto Show, Bunny, Dick Shippy, Divorce, Geographically Desireable, Jonathan Winters Show, LA History, Lake Havasu City, LHC, Lisa Baker, Los Angeles History, Marina Del Rey, Mark F. Segal, Peter Gowland, Playboy After Dark, Playboy Bunny, Playboy History, PlayboyClub, Playboymagazine, polkadot bikini, Queen of the Fleet, Regatta Queen, Robert Banas, Robert P McCulloch, Snowmobile show, Vintage LA, Vintage Playboy, Vintage Playboy Playmate, Winter Sports Edmonton