My Interview with Artist/Paige Young Friend Richard Sample. 1964-1969/70 Malibu. Venice. Celebrity Connections. Cult Characters. PART 1. Updated 6/25/2022

UPDATE: Richard L. Sample passed away on August 10, 2021

Recently, I interviewed Richard Sample, Paige’s ex-boyfriend and friend, painter, sculptor and assemblage artist.

He now lives in the Coachella Valley area of California.

Richard Sample was still living in Sun Valley, Idaho when he was interviewed by Daily Mail reporter Ryan Parry in 2014. He says he doesn’t know who gave his name to Parry in association with Paige Young.

I am thankful to Richard Sample for inviting me to interview him in person and taking the time and effort to talk about Paige Young. It was not always easy for him (or me).

Thanks also to his niece Ellen Sample who has been very helpful.

At the appointed time, I pulled up in my rental car and parked next to Richard’s house. There was a chainlink fence and gate that had a big padlock on it and the house was about 10 yards beyond it; I called out his name several times and did not get a response.

Luckily, Richard’s niece Ellie pulled up in her car, got out and told me Richard’s neighbor had called and told her that “there is woman in a red car was in front of her Uncle Richard’s house.”

Ellie said that she was aware of the interview, but “didn’t ask him any questions so that he feels he has his own life.” Ellie lives one street over and has been very involved with caring for Richard after he moved to the area.

Ellie unlocked the gate and as we walked toward the house, she told me that Richard doesn’t hear very well now.

Richard Sample gave me permission to publish what he said during our interview.

Richard warmly greeted me with a hug as did his dog Tolly. Ellie left us to the interview.

After we sat down to talk, Sample told me:

“In 2001 I got throat cancer. I got radiation that burned the lining of my throat and my whole body. I also had a surgery and they cut my throat, it left me hard to talk, hard to drink, hard to eat… I am dying.”

Richard Sample is now 84 years old and obviously does not hear well or speak easily. I strained to hear his whisper of a raspy voice to understand what he was saying, and I didn’t always understand right away. I got better at understanding pretty quickly as our conversation got going.

I will say Richard and I didn’t have a have a normal flowing conversation, but more of a question and answer session, and mostly the answers Richard gave took him a long time to say. I also got to know him as a person and shared my journey with researching Paige’s story.

This chapter and the next will be a mixture of exact quotes from my tape recorder as well as transcribed hand notes.

Background: Richard and Paige got together after the end of his relationship with Sylvia Nicolosi, daughter of famed LA based sculptor Joseph Nicolosi. She was one of three sisters. (confirmed independently)

Richard was in the military but he “Never made it to Vietnam, just Ft. Bragg North Carolina.” I saw his military ID.

Richard’s father was Charlie/Charles Sample, a well known artist, an eccentric Los Angeles and California character. Known as a talented goldsmith/jeweler to the “Stars.” Especially the Western ones. Charlie in more detail later. Many newspaper articles about him.

Richard Sample met Paige Young in the art world of Malibu in the 1960s.

He had several memories of Paige he wanted to tell me right away.

“Paige lived in a converted chicken coop on the edge of Malibu.

Richard doesn’t remember which edge.

For a dinner party, Paige had a different chair for each guest to use, not a matching (dining) set.

She would only eat salad if it was a day old.

“I never saw Paige with shoes on.” (see chapter 1970 Warhol, Paige appears with her date at the Warhol opening in Pasadena. She is photographed wearing a long Rudi Gernreich dress and is barefoot)

“She is the only person I’ve ever known who ate ice cream with a fork,”

I asked about Hamish the horse and Richard says she did not keep a horse in Malibu.

Paige would often strip down to her underwear and “run around topless or even nude.” Confirmed. Westwood neighbor Melanie told me that Paige often walked around nude in the shared backyard and it got on her nerves.

How Richard met Paige:

Paige was “going with a man named Harry Gesner. He was an architect who designed the Cooper house in Malibu. The house was on the cover of Life magazine. Harry Gesner was a client of my landlord. My landlord was Edward Ravick; he was involved with the Malibu Colony and maybe lived there at times.”

LAT July 19, 1964 the famous Cooper house by legendary architect and visionary Harry Gesner. It has been called the Wave House in more recent decades.

He sent Gesner and Paige to my studio in Malibu, “to see my art.”

(I found one mention of an Edward Ravick in a Malibu paper connected to real estate in the 1960s.)

Richard and Paige “immediately hit it off” and began dating.

Harry Gesner passed away in June of 2022.

Detail of photo with artists Richard Sample, left, Paige Young and possibly Harry Gesner. Thank you to Ellen Sample for use of this photo.
Gallery Program from ebay confirms Sample knew Ed Ravick, Harry Gesner (misspelled) and Elaine deKooning, Vincent Price, all of whom he mentioned knowing these years.

Jonathan Winters:

Richard asked me why I asked him about Jonathan Winters, in one of my letters to him.

I told him about the newspaper interviews with Paige from 1969, for promoting Playboy around the country. Some of the articles mention that Paige has appeared “in many skits,” on The Jonathan Winters Show. (1967-1969 CBS) (See my chapter on Paige’s Most Public Year 1969).

I then asked Richard why he called Jonathan Winters an “asshole” in his letter back to me. His answer:

“Dennis, (does not remember his last name) was the owner of the Golden O Gallery, in Los Alamos, he told me that Jonathan Winters used to come and sit on the sidewalk at Dennis’ gallery and talk about Paige, and he had nothing good to say, it was always nasty or negative. I never met the man (Winters) but Dennis could tell you all about it. Dennis never met Paige, but he did know about her.”

Presumably because of Jonathan Winters.

Paige did not tell Richard anything about Jonathan Winters when they were together. He said he wasn’t aware of her appearing on the show during its run from 1967-1969. He said it is a possibility that she did and he didn’t know about it.

I have since learned 2 thing about Jonathan Winters: He painted as a hobby and even published a book of his paintings entitled “Hang-Ups.”

And he had a residence in Santa Barbara which is quite close to the “artsy” town of Los Alamos.

Bill Cosby: Richard said he would occasionally pick up Paige at the Sunset Strip Playboy Club, after her shift. She worked at the club “for about 3 months,” he said.

A frequent visitor and performer at many Playboy Clubs was Bill Cosby. As well as a close friend to Hugh Hefner.

“Bill Cosby was always trying to put the make on Paige. She didn’t want anything to do with him, she ignored him,” said Richard.

Richard then told me of one time when he was picking Paige up from the club after her shift. He saw Bill Cosby get angry at Paige after she rebuffed another one of his advances.

Vintage Postcard. Playboy building on the right. It had the club, offices and a suite on the top floor Hugh Hefner while he was in LA.
Back of postcard. Club was opened on New Year’s Eve 1964

Richard then asked me if I was sure that Paige committed suicide and was not murdered. I told him that I owned a copy of her death certificate with suicide by gun typed into the cause of death box. I brought it out and showed it to him.

“I wouldn’t ever think she would do that,” (suicide) he said shaking his head at the document.

I decided not to tell Richard that there is more proof of a suicide besides the death certificate: witnesses like neighbor Melanie, the man D. DeWitt listed as a “2nd witness” on the police report, the police at Paige’s house on that day. (See chapter on LAPD report) Plus the coroner’s report.

Celeste Huston to me in a facebook exchange.

Melanie is the only one of these people to have spoken out publicly about the day of Paige’s suicide.

“She was a good person. I really miss her.” Richard said about Paige a few times that afternoon.

Richard moved to Venice Beach, around 1966-67 motivated by the thriving art scene. His father artist Charlie Sample was already there. Paige joined Richard not too long after he moved.

Like many artists, his house doubled as his art studio.

I asked Richard if he encountered any of the many artists who became famous out of the Venice Beach art scene.

He said “De Wain Valentine had a studio next door to Paige and me.” (See chapter on Museum appearance with Warhol 1970)

“He was a friend of mine.”

“Another friend, Larry Bell, lived across the street from us, on Market.”

“We (Paige and I) all used to hang out a lot, with all these (Venice artists) at Barney’s Beanery.”

After I returned from my trip, I did some research and I found quotes from Bell and DeWain Valentine in art magazines.

Dec. 2019 by Desiree Milton in Whitewall: Beyond the Walls.

There were a lot of actors and writers. We all used to hang out at a place called Barney’s Beanery, which was in West Hollywood. It was a local bar, a funky little place right at the end of La Cienega Boulevard where all the galleries were. So after the Tuesday or Thursday night openings, everyone would go up to Barney’s and hang around—there was The Raincheck Room on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood as well.

Larry Bell

The Brooklyn Rail May 2019 Interview with DeWain Valentine

Cars: Paige owned a yellow Mustang, a recent model and Richard owned a Corvette.

“A guy named Rex Ramsey stole our cars, but Paige got them back.”

I already knew about Rex Ramsey; he’s connected to Mark F. Segal through renting Segal’s (where Paige lived as his wife) house at 4144 Crisp Canyon in Sherman Oaks. Both men spent a career heavily involved with cars: sales, importing. racing. Ramsey designed a successful race car once. He did some stunt driving in Hollywood.

Rex Ramsey told me Mark’s family had a series of car dealerships and a towing service business. “They were quite well off,” Ramsey said. Otherwise he said he did not remember Paige Young but maybe he would later. I haven’t been able to reach him since the second phone call when he was unable to talk with me.

“My father (Charlie Sample) was a famous gold and silver smith. He made silver spurs for $8000 and made belt buckles and horse saddles for Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, John Wayne, Mae West, Tim Holt.

Richard shows me a recent catalog for a company producing high-end western gear using Charlie Sample designs: horse saddles and bridles, spurs, belt buckles, bolo ties, rings, bracelets etc.

“Paige liked my father, he made some jewelry for her.”

Richard shows me a picture of himself decked out head to toe in animal fur, looking like mountain man Jedidiah Smith.

Richard and his father were both quite handsome.

He says that “unfortunately” he has no photos of Paige or paintings by her; he has lost a lot of his possessions and paintings over the years but he is hoping to retrieve some of Paige’s paintings in Santa Maria.

“I never knew Paige to be involved with drugs, except an occasional use of grass.” Richard said that she did sometimes drink alcohol and occasionally went to clubs “in the Marina.”

And presumably the Raincheck Room, to be determined, per Larry Bell’s quote.

After I asked about something else and not hearing my question, Richard said “Paige was basically a very good person, until she got mixed up with Hefner. She went downhill then.”

“Lewis Beach Marvin the 3rd parents’ owned Green Stamps. He was a friend of Paige’s and mine. He introduced me to Robert Carl Cohen who put a lot of my sculptures in his movie Mondo Hollywood.

Lewis Beach Marvin and the amazing dwelling he put together in the hills of Malibu, is featured in Mondo Hollywood. The movie is a cult film known as an important document of counterculture LA/1960s history.

I did some research and one story says that Lewis Beach Marvin is the young man who gives Jim Morrison a lamb on stage in Miami on May 1st 1969. This can be seen on a video. I haven’t checked lately. It’s the concert that resulted in Morrison’s arrest due to alledgedly exposing his penis on stage.

Lewis Beach Marvin was an vegan activist WAY before it was a “thing.”

He does appear in a Miami article with a lamb around the time of the Doors concert. I also read it was a local Miami man who gave Morrison the lamb.

The arrest is supposedly one reason Morrison left for Paris.

Shortly after I returned from California, I rented Mondo Hollywood on Amazon. I was unable to spot Richard’s sculptures in the film–a sculptress named Valerie Porter is one of the “main characters” and the movie is heavy on a variety of her sculptures and many other sculptures and structures.

I did see his ending credit as:

Moonshadow sculpture: Richard Lauren Sample..

Famous pinup and 50s, 60s Playboy photographer Peter Gowland:

Peter Gowland called Richard (in 1974) looking for Paige because she hadn’t been seen for a while. He called Richard back some time later to tell him that Paige had committed suicide. Peter did not tell Richard the method that Paige used to kill herself.

According to Richard: Peter Gowland is the one who suggested and encouraged Paige to try out for Playboy. The two had met a few years previous, Paige had already modeled for Gowland several times.

Without mentioning his name, Paige said in a few 1969 interviews “my photographer friend” suggested the idea and submitted her photos to Playboy.

Richard opened Eros Gallery in Westwood in the late 60s. He can’t remember the location beyond that.

The next several photos are all from Playboy magazine November 1968, taken by Peter Gowland. I went through them with Richard.

Richard said this photo below shows him helping Paige carry one of her paintings into his Eros Gallery.

Richard says the seated woman on the left is “Mrs. Burke, my partner in Eros Gallery.” Mrs. Burke was a local patroness of the Arts. He said that Peter Gowland is the man in between Mrs. Burke and Paige.

Playboy magazine November 1968

If it is Gowland, I don’t know who took the shot; Richard said Peter’s wife and co-owner of their photography business, Alice Gowland, was not there that day and he never met her.

According to Richard, this photo of Paige running with her dog Joshua was taken at the Malibu Colony.

Richard said he has no idea who any of these people are at the cookout or in the room with Paige painting. He doesn’t recognize the location.

The painting looks like the start of a self portrait

Richard said that when he was living with Paige he “never questioned where she was going, what she was doing” or with whom she was doing it. “And she never questioned me. That is just the way the relationship was.”

Malibu fire: “Me and Harry Gesner went to Paige’s house during the Malibu fire (he’s not sure which year in the 1960s.) and hosed everything down. Paige’s house didn’t burn but everything around it did.”

I then asked a couple of my questions about Paige’s family.

Was there ever an indication that Paige had grown up with a grandmother (Virginia Young LaRocca) who was a Christian Science practitioner/ 1st Reader in the Church for decades? Richard answered, “Nope, nope, not at all.”

Richard said that Paige never talked about her childhood in the SFV, her family, that her birth name was Diana Cotterell, or her marriage to Mark F. Segal. She never said she used Marvin Mitchelson as her lawyer, Richard had never heard of Marvin Mitchelson anyway.

Richard said he met Paige’s sister (Constance/Connie) one time only, when Paige drove him to a visit with her. He said he doesn’t “think that they had a close relationship.”

Richard looked quite exhausted so I ended the interview for the day. I felt bad about telling him too much of Paige’s background that he never knew.

He said it didn’t bother him.

He remembered and shared one last thing:

“I introduced Paige to Tony Dow, a good friend of mine. He drove a Porsche. He liked my Vette. He lived in the Valley. “

Tony Dow purchased some of Richard’s art .

Part 2 of the interview is posted.

Paige Young Images Used In Art and Merchandise. Paintings By Paige Young. (Updated 9/21/22) Previously Unseen Images. (Some Are NSFW)

NEW:

New autographed photo I recently purchased. The seller found it going through the papers of his uncle who had died. It’s not photographic paper but more like a thin magazine paper. Paige’s signature is on the paper though, it’s not mimeographed.
From a Peter Gowland slide, never published.
From the same photo shoot as seen in January 1969 Playboy.
by artist Martha Rosler. Rosler created a series of collages appropriating images of Playmates from Playboy magazine. Rosler used this image of Paige from the January 1969 Playboy. Original image seen in chapter Playboy 1969.
The subtle amount of pubic hair in this shot would have not made it into a Playboy centerfold in 1968. But it would have been rejected anyway due to a cat or dog’s tail captured along the bottom edge.
Paige with exaggerated breast size as depicted by Pop Art artist Mel Ramos. Ramos has painted many images based on Playmates, models and actresses, their bodies entwined or emerging out of consumer products with a brand label showing: soda bottles, candy bars, Velveeta cheese boxes, Chiquita bananas, cigarette packages, etc.
From Peter Gowland’s photographs, Paige’s image on left is in an incomplete set of 4 “Sip and Strip” glasses, very popular in the 1970s. You might have seen these on the shelves of a store like Spencer’s or perhaps in an ad from the back of a magazine There should be white painted negligee or bikini that covers the nudity until the drinker fills the glass with ice and liquid. On this set I purchased, the paint has been worn off. The Gowlands either sold the rights to these photos to the company who produced the novelty glasses OR he sold the rights to someone who then sold them to a production company.

November 1968. Paige Young was not the cover girl of her Playmate issue. Instead, the issue featured the Femlin character touting the Presidential election that month. Robert F. Kennedy, favorite for the Democratic ticket only 5 months previous, was assassinated in Los Angeles at the Ambassador Hotel on June 6th. The Femlin was created and drawn by famous artist LeRoy Neiman who had a long association with Hugh Hefner and the magazine. The cover is a photo of a sculpted clay model of the character which was used in some issues. The term Femlin is a portmanteau of female and gremlin and is likened to a 10 inch tall sprite. Playboy’s Tinkerbell.
Lid of Paige Young puzzle with “mini-centerfold.”

LA writer Duke Haney told me about the history of Playmate puzzles, one of them included the centerfold image of Paige Young.

“The successful Playmate puzzle series was released periodically, in groups of 4 Playmates at a time. Paige’s group included Cynthia Myers, Gwen Wong and DeDe Lind. It was released in 70/71.

Haney describes the lid of the Playmate puzzle.

“The mini-centerfold measures 3×6.5 and two were included with every puzzle. One was folded so that only the face of the girl was visible through the opaque cap on the can. This was so that the buyer knew which puzzle it was, which Playmate. There are four pictured on the can itself. Then there was another mini-centerfold inside the can. This one wasn’t creased like the one below the lid. These pictures were guides to be referenced while piecing together the puzzle. Only one would have been necessary but hey…”

Author Duke Haney
Finished puzzle of the Paige Young centerfold. Image courtesy of Duke Haney

Haney says Playmates “never received residuals, Playboy owned the photos outright.” And that “The last of the puzzles were released in 1973, so Paige would have certainly been alive when her puzzle was released.”

Thank you Duke for speaking with me, I appreciate it!

*NOTE* Almost all of images of Paige’s paintings that follow, were publicly posted on Pinterest and/or Facebook.

“Monica and Gort” by Paige Young.
Richard Sample as painted by Paige Young. Courtesy of Richard Sample
The Laundry Girl posted on Pinterest
By Paige Young “High Noon.”

PETER GOWLAND’S GIRLS exhibit and book curated by Thom Schrimbock 2016

A Gowland favorite: starlet Venetia Stevenson

To mark the 100th birthday of Peter Gowland ZEPHYR – Space for Photography in Mannheim & Reiss-Engelhorn Museums curated “Peter Gowland’s Girls,” the first international exhibition of his lifework.  “Peter Gowland’s Girls” showcases some 200 works selected from Peter Gowland’s estate, which comprises tens of thousands of superb prints and slides, including the most sensational, most elegant and most daring pictures from his unparalleled career as a pin-up photographer. The exhibition displays his portraits of stars like Joan Collins and Jayne Mansfield, his work for “Playboy” and “Rolling Stone”, and his pictures for innumerable calendars and magazines from the 1940s to the 1970s. from petergowlandphotography.com

Photo below is from the book “Peter Gowland’s Girls.” Labeled “Unknown”

Outtake from a Gowland a Playboy session. Peter Gowland. Compare to “Unknown” photo above.
Another scuba photo not published. Paige’s published centerfold scuba photos show her in the water in full scuba gear while her companion spears a sea creature.
This is the cover of an art book featuring a Martha Rosler collage. Paige Young appears in the upper right corner, mirroring Sally Sheffield, May 1969. Image is distorted due to enlarging.

Nick Lees and Bob Sanders Reminisce about Paige Young.

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.

7/10/2009

Paige Young….by Bob Sanders

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.

Paige Young is interviewed at a radio station and autographs her photo in a January 1969 Playboy magazine
Outtake from Playmate photo shoot. Peter Gowland photographer.

     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 “flack.”

                                                                     #           #             #             #       

1974 #1. Death. Witness. Sex Tapes. Hefner. Questions. Cremation. Ocean burial. Documents. Secrets of Playboy. UPdated 8/17/22

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

April 7th 1974 is a Palm Sunday.

On that day, Paige commits suicide with a gunshot to her head.

Paige's garage apartment in WESTWOOD.

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 A&E channel documentary Secrets of Playboy, Melanie is interviewed by the director.

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? (the Playmate Book is a compendium of all the Playmates who have appeared in the magazine since the first issue in 1953, up to the date of publication. An update on the lives accompanies each woman’s entry. I’m guessing that the Playmate Book is updated and released every 5-10 years.)

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?

A well known part of Hefner’s biography is that he 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 painting 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 her personal notes about Tony Curtis. Curtis and his lawyers were highly upset about Tony’s appearance in sex tapes filmed at the mansion.

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 cover girl Pamela Anderson had her and husband Tommy Lee’s sex tape stolen and released to the public.

Former Playboy employee Lisa Loving Barrett says in the same 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” go 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 incident was told to Russell Miller, author of the book Bunny.

One of the clips from the Secrets of Playboy opening also shows a 1970s Hugh Hefner talking to reporters 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 Paige Young ashes scattered here in 1974.

1971-1973 # 1. John Huston. Celeste Shane. Ireland. St. Bill Gardner. Columnist Jack Smith Sees Huston and Hefner at Trendy Backgammon Club. Move To Westwood. Update 9/20/2022

1972 Paige appears in the ’72 edition of “Gowland’s Guide to Glamour Photography.”

The photo appears to be taken from the same photo session as the one used in the Ridgid 69/70 Ridgid Tool Co. calendar.

It’s her only appearance in any of the Gowland instructional books that I have seen, which is nearly all of them.

1971 (approx.)

It was around this time that Paige moved into a garage apartment in Westwood (below) after feeling “antsy” (as described by her friend Henry to me) living in the “isolated” Trancas/Broad Beach area of Malibu.

This is the home where she would end her life in 1974.

Paige’s carriage house where she would live for a few years and end her life in 1974. Taken in September of 2022. Construction workers were inside the apartment gutting the interior with its’ original “built-ins” of 1941.
This was taken from Zillow several years ago.

1972/73 cont...

According to the Daily Mail report, Paige complains to neighbor Melanie about her relationship with famed film director John Huston:

“She (Paige) said she had an affair with John Huston, and that he had done things to her, abused her.  I remember one incident in which John hid her shoes to make her think she had gone crazy. It was a small thing, but she was really bothered by it.”

“I know she dated Huston for a while and had just gotten back from a trip to Ireland with him.”

Daily Mail 2014

John Huston owned and lived in an Irish estate named St. Clerans, located in Galway, Ireland, from 1953 to 1973.  His daughter, the actress and director Anjelica Huston, spent many years there as a child, which she discusses in detail in her memoirs.

Given what Melanie said about Paige having “just returned from Ireland” after a visit to Huston, Paige would necessarily have been one of Huston’s last guests, as the St. Clerans estate was sold sometime in 1973.

San Francisco Examiner Aug. 25, 1972. In a Society column by Albert Morch

This is the same time frame of John Huston’s marriage to Celeste Shane Green, 1972-1975. It was Huston’s 5th marriage and CiCi’s 2nd.

Celeste, known as Cici, spent time living (visiting really) St. Clerans during her marriage to Huston.

Celeste was (and is) involved with horses and boarded at least one at Sepulveda Stables in the early 60s. I talked with a woman who was 12 years old during these years and knew both Paige and Celeste at Sepulveda Stables.

It’s another factor which places Celeste in the same world as Paige.

 Cici grew up in a wealthy Beverly Hills family with three brothers.  Her father owned a successful car leasing company and rented out his yacht to celebrities like Frank Sinatra. (See chapter: The Shanes of Beverly Hills)

Cici’s first husband is screenwriter Wally Green.  They have a son named Collin.

Cici visited Huston’s St. Clerans Ireland estate as a newlywed, it was August/September of 1972. She brought along her son Collin and his caregiver Maricella, who also acted as Cici’s “maid.” Wally Green also visited his son at the estate.

John Huston later said “Cici was as out of place at St. Clerans as anyone could possibly be.” 

Cici said “I wasn’t prepared for the eleven servants, the mistresses, Betty O’Kelly, Gladys.”

Celeste took an instant dislike to John Huston’s assistants, Betty O’Kelly and Gladys Hill.   Gladys co-wrote scripts with Huston.

Cici felt the women, and several employees of the large staff, were taking advantage of Huston by overcharging him and using his money for their own personal shopping. Huston was frequently absent due to directing films all over the globe plus he was not that interested in managing his money.

This created a lot of tension at St. Clerans.

 Cici wanted most of the staff fired but Huston refused.

About St. Clerans’ horse caretaker Cici said “I caught him with quadruple charges for horseshoeing. I know about horses. He couldn’t screw me around.”

Cici was especially outraged by the visit of her husband’s young mistress, Zoe Sallis, who of course brought along her out-of-wedlock son by John Huston: Danny Huston.  Cici resented the monthly allowance (and breakfast in bed) afforded to Zoe.

Horsemanship was one thing Celeste, Huston and Paige all had in common.

Celeste and Paige both boarded horses at Sepulveda Stables. Celeste messaged me that she is the one who told Paige about Sepulveda Stables.

I happen to have known that Paige boarded her a horse there since grade school when she was known as Diana Cotterell. She gave 2 school photos to the owners of the Stables which were published on a website about Sepulveda Stables. That would mean Cici knew Paige as Diana in grade school and I don’t see it. Diana lived closeby Sepulveda Stables and several of her classmates, like Joan Edwards, boarded a horse at that location. Cici was involved with high class elite level horse shows.

I have read several John Huston biographies.

John Huston and Paige were both painters in addition to being horse lovers, these factors may have played a role in their “connection”.

Huston was a womanizer and had several marriages, flings, short and long-term affairs with numerous women over the decades and apparently of all ages.

I read that he wasn’t one to indulge in “one-night-stands.”

Also, from what I’ve read, Huston had a meanstreak in his personality that he would sometimes unleash on the ones most likely to be hurt by it.

Example is the story Melanie tells of Huston hiding Paige’s shoes.

Huston could also display great generosity.

Information and quotes from Lawrence Grobel’s book: “The Hustons” published by Scribner’s.

I also found information from Huston biography Courage and Art by Jeffrey Meyers.

Check these books out for a much more in-depth look at larger than life John Huston.

Given what Melanie said in the Daily Mail and the sale of St. Clerans, Paige’s visit likely was in 72-73. If so, she may have witnessed or even been involved in the drama between Cici, Betty, Gladys, and Zoe Sallis. According to biographer Jeffrey Meyers, Huston enjoyed women fighting over him.

I had an email exchange with Celeste Shane Huston and she confirmed that she and Huston knew Paige and “were only trying to help her”. She denies that Huston and Paige had affair. She wrote that 2 prominent lawyers purchased Paige’s ticket to Ireland.

Guess who else

was a visitor to St. Clerans in the early 1970s? Bill Gardner. The same Bill Gardner from the Pasadena Art Museum chapter. He knew both John and Celeste Huston as did Paige.

1970 Pasadena Art Museum.
Bill Gardner, Paige Young’s date to the Warhol opening at the Pasadena Art Museum. From Gardner’s Instagram account.

The following paragraph is what Bill wrote about himself for online publicity. He also has an author page on Amazon.

William Louis Gardner

William Louis Gardner started his career getting a diploma from the Pasadena Play House in the fifties. The US Air sent him to Pasadena, California to learn film and television production. During his education at the Playhouse he was sent to do on-the-job-training at ABC, CBS and NBC. He spent time on the on the sets of Colgate Comedy Hour studying, observing and watching the process of television variety type shows. Bill became acquainted with the Martin & Lewis show, Jimmy Durante Show, Danny Thomas Show, Lucille Ball, Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland and Milton Berle Shows. After William left Hollywood he joined his squadron and wrote and produced films for the US Air Force. When he was discharged from the Air Force he returned to Hollywood and went to work for Mickey Rooney as his assistant and manager for ten years. After he joined Jonathan Winters as his manager. In 1965 William moved to Ireland and joined director, John Huston, as his assistant. He worked on John’s films in England and Morocco. John sent Bill to East Africa to do pre-production for a film Bill had written called “The Games End”. The film has yet to be made. William, left the industry in 1972 and came back to California and moved to Montecito and became a real estate broker. He formed a Real Estate office in Santa Barbara and retired thirty five years later to write a novel “Confession of a Hollywood Agent” and numerous screenplays. His novel “The End of the Game” struggles with Africanization, intrigue and murder to save the elephant. Present, Bill keeps on writing.

scribd.com

NEW.

From the famous LA writer Jack Smith, he sees Huston and Hefner with others including an “unidentified sex object,” at a backgammon tournament, sometime in 1972. The observation by Smith happened around the time Cici and Huston were married.

Both Hefner and Huston were avid backgammon players. I have never seen a photo of the two men together or Huston at the Holmby Hills mansion.

Allegedly the cast and crew of Chinatown spent relaxation time at the mansion; that cast of course includes Huston and Roman Polanski.

This would have been the time that Paige had been hanging out with Hefner at the mansion “scene” such as it was, at least on an occasional if not regular basis.

These were the very last years of Paige’s life.

More about John Huston ahead.

Paige appears in some Electrochemical Company photographs, credited to Peter Gowland, probably taken 72/73. NSFW

There is an association between Electrochemical Company and the Ridgid Tool Company, Gowland’s long time clients.

From a series of photos for Electrochemicals clients.

Paige was one model of a few featured in this series which looks like it was a gift for special clients. Ann Cushing and Brook Mills, two Gowland favorites, are the others. Plus one I don’t recognize.

The models all go uncredited including Paige, her “Playmate” status is not indicated.

From the same series. Gowland favorite Ann Cushing on the left.
Paige left, Ann right. Early 70s.

Updated 09/26/22 Playboy January 1969. PMOY Contest. Winner: Connie Kreski. Gowland’s Ridgid Calendar 69/70. Playboy Calendar 1970.

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.

Connie Kreski

The winner was Connie Kreski: a Michigan nursing school graduate, Playmate in January of 1968, quickly turned starlet owning a camera ready face. She appeared to look much younger than her 21 years. Which is why Anthony Newley cast her in his 1969 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.

Los Angeles Times May 15, 1969

Connie Kreski had gone to London in the last 2 years 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.

Famously to 1960s social history fans, 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 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.

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 the show, especially the ones from 1970, the last years of the program.

Anthony Newley appeared on PAD at least once and was known to be a guest at both Playboy mansions.

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 1950s and 60s.

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

Connie appeared on a memorable 1970 episode of Love American Style starring Kaye Ballard. Connie played 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 were 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 some 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. I looked it up and 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?

She is rarely mentioned in any pop culture forum. I find that strange given the people that she was seen hanging out with. Those folks continue to generate attention and conversation. Including ex-boyfriend of Connie’s and Playboy mansion regular James Caan who recently passed away on July 6, 2022. There were numerous accolades written and a film festival is in the works.

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.” I don’t know what cause of death is listed in “The Playmate Book,” for Connie’s entry, but I do know it does not say “Cirrhosis of the liver.”

More on Connie Kreski coming soon..

Paige had some photo shoots published and distributed in 1970.

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 their tool purchasing clients.

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

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

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 7/25/2022

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 some.

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

Concord Monitor mentions Paige Young but NOT Playboy in their Oct. 22 1968 issue.
Boston Globe Oct. 27, 1968

A trip to the Boston Auto Show was likely the first stop of 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

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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.

Context: Photographer Peter Gowland and 1950s Pinup. Paige Young. Pin-up Models. Playboy. Under Construction. Updated 07/24/2022

Peter Gowland

Accompanying book to an exhibit in Germany by curator Thomas Shirmbock, a few years ago. Model is Venetia Stevenson aka Mrs. Russ Tamblyn.
San Francisco Examiner Aug. 18. 1957

In the 1950s:

The Gowlands were part of a larger group of mainly male glamour/pin-up photographers, based in the LA area.

From the book “Gowland’s Girls”
Petaluma newspaper July 25, 1957

The Gowlands were not unique in their husband and wife photography partnership: Another husband and wife photography team who also produced Playmate features: Bill and Melba Figge, based in Glendale.

They spotted (scouted) many Playmates at weddings gigs, including Lisa Baker from Texas, Playmate of the Year, 1967. Lisa Baker and Paige would appear together in April of 1969 at a Fresno mall to sign autographs.

These two Playmates both supposedly appeared on the Jonathan Winters Show, probably as background decor. I’ve never found an actual credit for Paige or Lisa on the show.

The Figges were very busy with their wedding photography business,500 per year while living family life with four children.

By 1950 the “pin-up model” was already a mass media icon associated with patriotism during World War 2. She was evolving in her mainstream status. Pin-up models were also popular Cover Girls and Hollywood starlets and appeared at Hollywood events as hostesses and openings of grocery stores in the San Fernando Valley.

Often these young women had started out in beauty contests or were still on the beauty pageant circuit.

The post-war world brought advances in photography; cameras, lighting and other technology and increasing appeal as a popular hobby for the “Average Joe Consumer.”

Peter Gowland himself was often featured in magazines for amateur photographers, he not only built his own outdoor sets by hand at his Rustic Canyon home, he invented a large format 4×5 camera he named the Gowlandflex.

Throughout the 50s and 60s, Peter and Alice were at the forefront of the genre of pin-up photography, the business side, which Alice ran, and the technical side with Peter’s handbuilt sets and Gowlandflex camera.

Alice Gowland goes over a contract with model/starlet Mara Corday.

Their specialty was selling these photos for use in different types of men’s magazines, album covers, book covers, girlie calendars, mainstream commercial work and many photography instructional books.

glamourphotographers.yolasite.comsite.com Please checkout this website for an in-depth discussion of the Gowlands and other photographers from the classic era of post-war glamour/pin-up photography.

TV starlet and Cover Girl Saundra Edwards.

mentioned in the Bob Thomas article above, was a Gowland favorite model of the time.

Saundra was a Playmate for March 1957; photography by the Gowlands.

Popular cover girl and early Playboy Playmate Saundra Edwards. This image appeared on several magazine covers and not only pinup or “girlie magazines.”

Saundra killed her husband, actor Tom Gilson, in self-defense when he drunkenly approached Saundra during a separation, demanding to see his son. This happened in Oct. of 1962 in Van Nuys. Below is one of many articles on the incident. Saundra was cleared of any wrongdoing.

Ogden Standard-Examiner Oct. 11, 1962

Saundra had several bit parts and uncredited appearances on TV and movies including Hawaiian Eye, 77 Sunset Strip, Maverick, Cheyenne and Troy Donahue starring movie Parrish.

Saundra Edwards already had two children by a previous marriage. She also had a contract with Warner Bros. that she broke. Hollywood lore was that the ensuing “scandal” over her murder in self-defense, that caused Saundra’s career to disappear, but other sites say that the studio wanted to place her 3 children in a boarding school to remove distractions as they developed her potential as a star.

Saundra refused and dropped out of show business.

Other notable models or stars who worked for the Gowlands were model and swimsuit designer Barbara Osterman, mid-century pop culture phenomenon  Vicki “The Back” Dougan, Julie Newmar (pre-Cat Woman) Tina Louise (pre-Gilligan’s Island) cult movie actress Edy Williams, starlets Yvette Mimeux and Venetia Stevenson, Jayne Mansfield, famous men’s magazine and nudist model Diane Webber. Rosemarie Bowe and her husband Robert Stack, Rock Hudson and R. J. Wagner.

The Gowlands had a lucrative revenue stream with dozens of photography instruction manuals from the 50s through the 80s at least. Some were magazine format and others hardback.

3 examples of magazine format below

1961 Meiling Gordon cover model
Interest in Figure or Artistic nude photography grew in the 1950s culture as did photography as a hobby for the masses. This edition is from 1961. Cover model is Colleen Whitman.

Many of these instruction manuals pushed boundaries for nudity (topless) standards or simulation or implied nudity, (naked back turned toward the camera, almost see-through garments etc.) for the times.

Alice Gowland wrote these books which include detailed instructions on lighting, camera settings, set design and construction, on location shooting and scouting, interviewing and signing contracts with models.

1969 No credit for cover model

Peter Gowland did publish photos with obvious frontal nudity in a small number of instructional books. (Later, Alice Gowland would say one reason they quit working for Playboy, was the appearance of pubic hair in the early 70s.) Mainly though, it was swimsuit and beach attire.

FAME Connection

Peter Gowland is well-known (Alice less so) for contributing to the Playboy Magazine Playmate feature in the 50s and 60s.

Most fans know Paige Young was the last of the Gowland’s Playmates with her feature in November of 1968.

Peter Gowland has a type of fame, both then and now, but not one that is mass fame. He has more of a cult status.

However, Gowland was more mainstream in the 50s and 60s when non-nude pin-up models were used in a myriad of ways in mass media culture.

Pageant was not a “girlie magazine” but like many mainstream magazines in a flourishing 1950s publishing market, a pinup girl was on the cover. It was aimed at the “Youth Market.” Model is Venetia Stevenson.

Part of the phenomena of the pinup cover model is the plethora of beauty contests, beauty contest winners and corresponding media coverage.

Southern California was a hub for all kinds of beauty contests and displays of physicality; for example the Venice Beach “muscle” scene also feature female beauty contests.

Lita Baron aka Mrs. Rory Calhoun and a commercial model, has a several page layout in Pageant magazine credited to Peter Gowland. Late 1950s.

Richard Sample confirmed what I had suspected, that Paige had modeled for Gowland several years before her Playboy centerfold issue, November of 1968. See chapter on Richard Sample interview where he talks about Peter Gowland.

This article was published around the time Paige met Peter and Alice Gowland. 1965