1970#2 Playboy January 1969. PMOY Contest & Calendar. Winner Connie Kreski. Gowland’s Ridgid Calendar.

Paige appears in the January 1969 issue of Playboy magazine (it’s also the 15th anniversary issue) along with the 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 title was a big deal. A higher title than Playmate of the Month.

I include a brief biography of the winner of the title: Connie Kreski. She plays a minor part in 1960s pop culture and like Paige Young, came into contact and relationships with much bigger Hollywood players. And like Paige, had a sad ending.

Photo by Peter Gowland
Update on Paige in the Playmate Roundup January 69 Playboy issue.
Paige Young appears in the Playboy calendar for April of 1970. Photo by Gowland. Collection of author
A 5 by 7 autographed photo of Paige. Collection of the author. Probably signed in 1968-69.

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

January Playboy 1970
Playboy January 1969. Connie’s Photo above goes with this update. Photo took up an entire page in the magazine. only 2 other Playmates in the PMOY contest were given that honor..Maybe a way of indicating who was favored in the running?

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

Famously, Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate were married at the London Playboy Club in 1968, they were all friends.

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

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

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

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

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

Connie made several featured yet non-speaking appearances on Hefner’s TV show “Playboy After Dark.” I will have to check again to see if she ever said anything at all on the show.

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

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

Universal loved to sign models, starlets and beauty contest winners. Esp. in the 50s and 60s.

Connie Kreski with her boyfriend of the 1970s, James Caan. Connie became involved with Caan after she was dumped by Victor Lownes for another PMOY: Marilyn Cole. Connie was James Caan’s date for the premiere of the Godfather in NYC, Mar. 14, 1972. I don’t know the location of this photo.

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

What happened in her life that it ended this way? I plan on beginning my research to answer this question soon.

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

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

Paige appears in the 69/70 edition.

Paige appeared in the 69/70 edition of the famous Rigdig Tool Calendar with fellow Playmates Reagan Wilson and Mercy Rooney (Merci Montello) The calendar does not identify them as Playmates. Collection of the author.

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.

November 1968 Playmate. 1969: Most Public Year. PAD Tour. Lake Havasu City. Marina del Rey. LIsa Baker. Jonathan Winters. High School Info. (Long, Many Images, May take a while to appear) Updated 1/25/22

April of 1969. Bob Sanders describes this outfit in his story about Paige. See chapter Nick Lees/ Bob Sanders.

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 to promote the TV show Playboy After Dark (PAD). Basically to function as a brand ambassador.

What follows are several articles I found from 1968 and 1969 on a newspaper archive website.

Take the time to read the articles, if you want a little insight into the person that was self-named Paige Young. I apologize for the quality of a few of them.

Some articles are revealing and appear to be truthful. Paige gives a few contradictory answers on the topic of weight gain/loss for centerfold approval.

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

This 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.

Boston Globe Oct. 27, 1968

“I met Paige when I was 14. She was signing autographs at the Boston car show in late 1968. We talked about art. She was intelligent, beautiful, and kind. I’m looking to find original art by her as I think she was a great artist who was hobbled by her beauty. “

Feedback left by a reader, Daniel.

 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!

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.”

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

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

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.

Van Nuys News April 3, 1969
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.

Valley Times April 4, 1969. Mentions graduating from VNHS and Jonathan Winters Show.
Evening Vanguard Venice California, April 5, 1969

These high schools were all near where Paige was living, if she lived with Virginia at 13204 Riverside Drive or with Donna and stepfather Jack Holroyd at 12835 Oxford Ave in the early 60s.

Diana had a good 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

ALSO Notice the information of Paige’s appearance on the Jonathan Winters Show in the Lake Havasu article.

The terms Playmate and Bunny became interchangeable in the media very quickly. Here is another example; ad from a Fresno mall appearance with Playmate Lisa Baker.

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

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.

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 meant Art & 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.

UPDATE May 19, 2021 Richard Sample (see my interview with him) told me that Paige knew Hefner while she worked at the Playboy Club on the Sunset Strip, mid to late 1960s. Hefner had not yet moved to LA full-time. When this article was published it was almost certainly her first time visiting the Chicago Playboy mansion.

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.

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

Edmonton Journal

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

*For more information a possible reason for Paige’s illness in Edmonton, see the chapter on Nick Lees”*

1969 The articles show us that most of Paige’s year is taken up with Playboy promotional traveling and appearances; autograph signings at car shows, Playboy Clubs, TV stations, Battle of the Bands, radio interviews, newspaper interviews, etc.

The Edmonton Winter Sports show in late September of 69 is the latest date I’ve have found for her promotional appearances. (So far.)

Boston Auto Show: late Oct. 1968 to the Edmonton show: late Sept. 1969, is just under one full year. Perhaps Paige completed the contracted one-year to Playboy. Seems like she had really “had it” by the end.

Or was it just a ruse to run off with Nick Lees?

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.