1974 #1. Death. Witness. Sex Tapes. Hefner. Questions. Cremation. Ocean burial. Documents. UPdated 6/13/22

March 16, 1974 is Paige’s 30th birthday.

April 7th 1974 is a Palm Sunday.

In her garage apartment, Paige Young commits suicide with a gunshot to her head.

During the weeks and months leading up to her suicide, Paige confided in Melanie that she was fearful of a “sex tape” that “a relative of a major celebrity had made of her.”

Below is the account neighbor Melanie gave to reporter Ryan Parry of the Daily Mail.

“She was terrified of it coming out, in that day you knew your career was going to be over once it got ‘round.”

“For weeks all she could think about was getting hold of that tape, she thought it was going to ruin her.”

Melanie

“Paige had the whole thing planned down to the last detail…  It was Palm Sunday and she came to tell me she was going to kill herself. She stayed in the back of the house where we (B.J.) lived and I was at the bathroom window. She comes up to the window and calls out to me “I want to show you something.” I couldn’t be bothered by any more of her drama. But she was like, “No, you’ve gotta come and see it.” So I go to her apartment and she gave me a guided tour …of her suicide scene in her bedroom….It was chilling..there was a large American flag draped across her bed and there was a pentagram laid out on the wooden floor…I remember her showing me around it because it was somehow important, but I didn’t know what it meant.”

But it was the bedroom was that shocked Myers the most.

“It was covered floor to ceiling with photos of Hugh Hefner, there were news clippings, magazine articles, everything you could think of. Written across it was something like “Hugh Hefner is the devil.” The whole wall was a shrine saying, ‘I hate Hugh Hefner,’ the crux of her anger was against him. That was the message she wanted to get across to me. She was pointing up at things, showing me around it.  She’s put a lot of work into this, it must have taken her days.

Myers said that Young then calmly explained that she planned to kill herself.

She produced a gun and put it into her mouth…lay back on her bed and said, ‘this is how I’m going to do it.’

“It was chilling. We were friends but not the best of friends, I was always bitching about her and her dog, so I was scared.  I thought maybe she could shoot me, you know, take me with her, it was all so weird.  I thought, I’ve got to get out of here.”

“Myers quickly retreated to her apartment and called the police. LAPD officers arrived soon afterwards and cordoned of the whole of Eastbourne Ave.”

Myers said, “The cops didn’t want to go in her apartment first, so they asked me to go check on her, so I did.”

“I walked into her apartment and they were behind me. I walked into her bedroom and she was lying dead on the bed. She had shot herself in the head as she told me she would. There was a huge mass of blood, her whole bed was soaked red, it was shocking. But she looked happy and very peaceful, she didn’t look in distress.” 

“The cops had Paige’s suicide note and read some of it to me…the whole thing was about her anger towards the men who she believed had chewed her up and spat her out.  The two men who got the most attention were Hugh Hefner and the director John Huston. I know she dated Huston for a while and had just gotten back from a trip to Ireland with him.”

Paige expressed anger to other Hollywood stars who had used her.

“I believe Paige was making a huge statement in a bid to get at the elite of Hollywood…She thought the story of her death would spark a big scandal, but it didn’t. Sadly no one cared.”

In the documentary Secrets of Playboy, Melanie says she was told by Paige Young that a member of Hefner’s entourage filmed her in a sexual situation at the Playboy mansion. And she was very afraid of it “getting out.”

Below is a photo of the death certificate copy I obtained. A partial autopsy/police report copy is included in the Daily Mail story, but not the death certificate.

Reporter Ryan Parry of the Daily Mail discovered that Paige did not die of a drug overdose as is stated in “The Playmate Book” and several websites, but actually committed suicide from a gunshot wound to the head, per an autopsy report and death certificate as one can see.

On April 9 Price-Daniel Mortuary handles Paige’s death services. Her cremation takes place at Roosevelt Memorial Park in Gardena. Burial of her ashes to take place at sea near Santa Monica shoreline.

Mother Donna Holroyd signs of with a shaky signature as “Donna Cotterell.”

It is unknown how the false story of Paige overdosing on drugs started to be written and repeated on the internet so much that it became her “official” means of suicide.

Is the Playmate Book the original source?

Paige’s suicide appears to have never been reported in the Los Angeles media, in 1974 or since.

I haven’t found any death, obituary or memorial announcement.

 In the weeks and months after the Daily Mail article was published, no one spoke out publicly about knowing or having met Paige Young. No one came forward on social or entertainment media to shed any more light on what could have driven or influenced her to take her own life.

This is one reason I was motivated to research more about Paige Young.

Back to 1974

And what about the alleged sex tape? Was Hugh Hefner or those close to him involved somehow?

It is well known that Hugh Hefner was fascinated by audio and video technology. He collected home video, film cameras and cutting edge stereo equipment before they were available to the mass consumer.

In the early decades of the magazine, Playboy magazine often featured a “bachelor pad” decked out with the finest stereo equipment and other electronic gadgets, sure to impress the ladies, like a Cadillac or Picasso might.

The A&E series Secrets of Playboy has revealed accounts of sex being filmed by Hugh Hefner at his mansion in Holmby Hills. See accounts by Sondra Theodore and Stefan Tetenbaum in Episode 8.

There are reports of video tapes of sexual encounters over the decades, with some involving celebrities.

Secrets of Playboy; see interview with former head of Playmate Promotions Miki Garcia showing notes about Tony Curtis. He and his lawyers were highly upset about Tony’s appearance in sex tapes filmed at Hefner’s mansion.

And there are reports of Hefner having the tapes and films destroyed before his death by sinking them in the ocean; he had become more fearful after friend and Playboy favorite Pamela Anderson had her and Tommy Lee’s sex tape stolen and released to the public.

Former Playboy employee Lisa Loving Barrett says in the documentary Secrets of Playboy, that she heard the the ocean burial story and has reason to believe it is true.

These stories of “sex tapes” going back to the Chicago Playboy mansion days: an ex- girlfriend of Hefner’s, with help from one of his secretaries, snuck in the mansion and retrieved “her” tape. This story is in the book Bunny, by Russell Miller.

One of the Secrets of Playboy series opening also shows a clip of Hugh Hefner talking about all the “electronic equipment in the mansion,” including cameras and that “sometimes stuff happens in the bedroom.”

Mother Mrs. Donna Holroyd signature.
Math figures determine Paige’s age.

Santa Monica Beach 2018

November 1968 Playmate. 1969: Most Public Year. Playboy Tour. Lake Havasu City. Marina del Rey. LIsa Baker. Jonathan Winters. High School Info. (Long, Many Images, May take a while to appear) Updated 6/10/22

1968  November Paige Young  appears as Playboy Magazine’s Playmate of the Month.

November 1968 Playboy magazine.

 This will be her primary “claim to fame” in popular culture. Photography team, married couple and contributors to Playboy since the 1950s, Peter and Alice Gowland were the photographers.

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.”  

This photo shows Paige with her painting of Truman Capote. She says he is her favorite author and hopes to gift with him with the portrait someday, eschewing many high offers to buy. Photo by Peter Gowland.


Maybe you already know that Paige Young’s other claim to fame is appearing on internet lists and articles about Playboy Playmates who died before their time. (See “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 promoting the TV show Playboy After Dark (PAD). And basically 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 topic of weight gain/loss for centerfold approval.

The Target, Rock Island, Ill. Nov. 29, 1968
The Observer, Bossier City, Nov. 22, 1968

Boston Globe Oct. 27, 1968

A trip to the Boston Auto Show was likely her first stop on the tour, Oct. 26-Nov. 2, 1968. It 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 reader Daniel.

 More from Daniel:

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, very much appreciated!

A 5 by 7 autographed photo of Paige. Signed in 1969 at a “Battle of the Bands” contest I was told.

Detroit Free Press Nov. 9, 1968

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 the lawyers fees owed to Marvin M. Mitchelson. Segal had made one payment to each in 1964 and that’s all.

By now Paige’s law firm was Silverton, Ruderman and Graf of Studio City.

Top right shows the date when the alimony was first ordered: 9-18-64. Near the bottom of right you can see current date: 2-20-69.
LAT December 1968, Paige lived in Malibu mid-to late 1960s, but it was not her “hometown.”
May in Cincinnati. Sorry for poor quality.

Paige visits NYC in June of 1969

Central New Jersey Home News June 6, 1969
Central New Jersey Home News June 8, 1969

Philadelphia

July 3rd From the TV section of the Philadelphia Inquirer. The show “Contact” was hosted by a then unknown Tom Snyder. Paige is incorrectly identified as a Playboy “Bunny.” “Bunny” is and has been the catchall word for women surrounding Hugh Hefner.

Charles Petzoid was a regular columnist for this Philly newspaper.

Minneapolis

Minneapolis visit in April of 69 . Paige had just turned 25. Hired by Hugh Hefner, Bob Sanders played the role of “press agent” for Paige on several of these trips. See chapter Nick Lees Bob Sanders
Left side of the above article from Minneapolis.April of 1969. Bob Sanders describes this outfit in his story about Paige. See chapter Nick Lees/ Bob Sanders.

Lake Havasu City, Arizona

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 definition

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.

Detail from ad in the LAT June 6, 1968

From the Quad City Times Davenport Iowa. June 28. 1969

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!

Edmonton
Newark New Jersey
Shreveport, Louisiana Journal March 27, 1969
Evening Post Reading, Berkshire,England April 12, 1969

This article (April 16, 1969) mentions Robert McCulloch as regatta chairman and details information about the boats entered. Probably because it’s in the “Outdoor” section of the paper.

Long Beach Independent April 10, 1969
Paige’s PR man and chaperone, Bob Sanders, recalls that Paige did not want to be an actress.

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.

Hollywood Citizen-News April, 4, 1969

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, all high schools near VNHS.

Van Nuys News April 3, 1969
Valley Times April 4, 1969. Mentions graduating from VNHS and Jonathan Winters Show.

Evening Vanguard Venice California, April 5, 1969

Diana had a friend and fellow horse lover at Van Nuys Junior High.

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, and that she only remembers her with the name Diana Cotterell.

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 wire service photos never mention Paige’s title of Playboy Playmate, but the local Lake Havasu City paper does.

Lake Havasu City, Arizona 1969

Notice the references to Playboy “Bunny.”

Arizona Republic April 17, 1969

Lisa Baker, Jonathan Winters

Note 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 Paige and Playmate Lisa Baker.

Playmate of the Year 1967, Lisa Baker, was also supposedly on the Winters show.

Fresno Bee April 1969

Jonathan Winters Show connection

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.

Jonathan Winters, Mickey Rooney, and Bill Gardner on the set of the Jonathan Winters Show, 67-69, filmed at CBS Television City. Paige and Bill Gardner went on at least one date-See chapter Warhol Art Opening in a Rudi Gernreich Dress.

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 the 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.

Please see chapter Richard Sample interview for more on Jonathan Winters and a possible connection to Paige Young.

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.

1969 travels continued…

Miami Herald Sun 4/20/1969
Philadelphia Inquirer, June 27, 1969 Note the line “Many young artists work with the new materials…. Paige was referring to Light & Space artists DeWain Valentine, Larry Bell, and Robert Irwin.

Marina Del Rey

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.

Close up of article index July 20th 69 issue West magazine.
July 20, 1969 LAT

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

Complimentary to Paige and disdainful of Hefner/Playboy was common among the write-ups I read while researching.

Akron

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is akron_beaconjournalsun_apr_13__1969_.jpeg
Akron Beacon Journal April 13, 1969
Part 2 of article.

Last sentence of article reads: “safe to assume she knew she was on a fools errand. One might also assume that puts her one up on the man from Playboy.”

Article says Paige met Hefner only once briefly at a stop at the Chicago mansion.

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.

Montreal Star. July 2, 1969. More can be said about the unmentioned reference to Gowland.

.

Atlanta

August of 1969, this photo appeared one week after the Tate/LaBianca murders in Paige’s hometown of Los Angeles.

Many people, mainly celebrities, around at the time, have talked about the impact the murders had on the residents of Los Angeles. The fear. The Manson murders probably affected the whole vibe of that city and its’ citizens.

August 16, 1969 from the Atlanta Constitution. Paige also visited the Playboy Club in Atlanta as she did in NYC. Playboy Club Atlanta threw a party in honor of this new TV station Channel 36 per VIP magazine. The new station carried Playboy After Dark., a syndicated show.
VIP magazine for Playboy Club keyholders. Winter 1969. No photos of the event were carried in this issue of VIP.

September 1969: Japan

Paige Young visits troops in Japan. From Pacific Stars and Stripes, a newspaper for the US military. 9/21/69

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.

1969 Edmonton newspaper
September Edmonton Journal 1969.
Edmonton Journal Sept. 25, 1969

But when it gets to the big day……

Edmonton Journal Sept. 27, 1969

Devin Sheedy, women’s snowmobile speed record holder, steps in for an ailing Paige Young.

Edmonton Journal

*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?

Sad Headlines along with Paige’s Photo.

Pasadena Star-News 3/28/-1969

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 at 3400 Wilshire Blvd.