Posted on July 15, 2020
Paige’s photo appears in the January 1969 issue of Playboy magazine. It’s also the 15th anniversary issue of the massively successful magazine and empire. The issue shows all 12 Playmates of 1968, a brief update accompanies each one.
The contestants are in the running for the soon-to-be-named Playmate of the Year 1969. The Playmate of the Year was a big deal. A higher status title than Playmate of the Month obviously, it meant more photos, more publicity and more money.
The winner was born Constance Kornacki in Wyandotte, Michigan. She grew up in a strict Polish Catholic family.
She became a Michigan nursing school student and then a Playmate as Connie Kreski in January of 1968. Around the same time she moved to London and met singer/songwriter Anthony Newley.
Connie appeared to look much younger than her 21 years. This is why Anthony Newley cast her in his 1969 film “Can Heironymus Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humppe and Find True Happiness?”
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.
Connie Kreski met another powerful man in London and began dating him: Hefner’s partner and close friend at Playboy: Victor Lownes. Lownes was head of the Playboy Club and casino in London during the Swinging Sixties.
Detroit Press Nov. 17, 1969 BetteLou Petersen celebrity column.
Well known to those who have read some 1960s social history, Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate had their wedding reception at the London Playboy Club in 1968; Lownes, Hefner and Polanski were close friends.
Connie and Victor are seen together with several mourners at Sharon Tate’s funeral, on film footage seen on youtube.
Victor Lownes is the person seen in a famous photo holding up a collapsing Roman Polanski at Sharon Tate’s funeral.
Connie has about 10 TV and film appearances after “Hieronymus.”
She appeared as a guest on the Merv Griffin and Joey Bishop talk shows.
April 6, 1969. Long Beach Press Telegraph
She go-go danced on Laugh-In, was introduced on Playboy After Dark TV show by Hugh Hefner as “Connie Kreski, our Playmate of the Year.” Connie does not say one word the entire show.
She did have more lines on other episodes of PAD, mostly the ones from 1970, the last year of the program.
San Francisco Examiner Nov. 8. 1970 below
The People, London. Aug. 23, 1970
Valley Times Mar. 25, 1969
Kreski’s newspaper press indicates she was signed to a 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.
Detroit Free Press April 27, 1969
Connie appeared on a memorable 1970 episode of Love American Style starring Kaye Ballard, where she plays a topless waitress.
Her last credit is the mini-series Aspen from 1976.
Connie had a high profile romance with actor James Caan in the early and mid-1970s. She was identified in Hollywood news articles as his “girlfriend” and “ex-Playmate.” They got together fresh off Caan’s star making turn in the Godfather; he was much in demand by directors and studios. And by beautiful young women as well, according to several interviews at the time.
Playboy Mansion regular James Caan speaks about girlfriend Connie Kreski in NY Daily News Oct. 8, 1972
Below is from an early/mid 1970s Playboy feature on men’s jewelry with Connie and boyfriend James Caan.
It was determined that Connie Kreski died of cirrhosis of the liver at age 48 in 1995. Laennec’s is a cirrhosis most associated with alcohol abuse over time.
What happened in her life that caused it to end this way at the age of 45?
What happened to her friendships with Hefner and Polanski and that crowd? And James Caan?
Connie Kreski is rarely mentioned in any pop culture forum. I find that strange given the people that she was seen hanging out with.
Many of these people continue to generate attention and conversation. Some are still alive, many dead. Most recently, Connie’s ex and Playboy mansion regular and good friend of Hefner, James Caan passed away on July 6, 2022. His death drew numerous accolades and a film festival is in the works.
Unusually, Caan lacks a dedicated biography. This will likely be forthcoming.
Caan hadn’t been asked about Connie since the 1970s.
is incorrectly identified on the internet. It usually says “blocked carotid artery” or “cancer.” Connie’s entry in The Playmate Book, mentions her death in Beverly Hills, 1995, but doesn’t state a cause. I have included closeups of her death certificate.
Connie married Louis Edelman in New York in 1986 and they set up a marital home in Los Angeles/Beverly Hills.
Connie died in March of 1995 at age 49. She died before her about 10 years older husband, Louis Edelman.
Official cause of death for 1969 Playmate of the Year Connie Kreski.
I corresponded with Connie’s stepdaughter Barbara Cooper. She told me that Connie became pregnant and lost a baby boy (named Zachary) when she was 6 months along. This tragedy also occured in 1986.
Cooper told me that after the loss, Connie began an obsession with calorie counting and losing weight and on top of that she abused alcohol.
It’s no wonder then, that she died so young.
Barbara told me how consistently kind and sweet Connie was to her daughters and to everybody.
She said that Connie never talked about Playboy, Hefner, any of the Playmates, or her days in Hollywood.
More on Connie Kreski and her brief time in the spotlight
Category: 1960s, 1970s, LA Locations, Playboy, PMOM, Popular Culture Tagged: 1960s history, 1960s Playmates, 1969, 1970, 1970sLA, Alice Gowland, Anthony Newley, Cheesy, Connie Kreski, Connie Kreski cause of death, Constance Joanne Kornaki, Daily Mail December 2014, Elvis, Girlie Calendar, James Caan, James Caan Connie Kreski., Joey Bishop, Laugh In, London Playboy Club & Casino, Los Angeles History, Marilyn Cole, Mercy Montello, Mercy Rooney, Merv Griffin, Paige Young, Peter Gowland, Playboy After Dark, Playboy Calendar, Playboy magazine, Playboy Playmate, Playmate of the Year, Playmate of the Year 1969, PMOY, Reagan Wilson, Ridge Tool Company Ohio, Ridgid Calendar, Ridgid Tool Calendar, Roman Polanski, Scott Caan, Sharon Tate, Sheila Ryan, Starlet, TV shows, Universal Studio, Universal Studios, Victor Lownes, Vintage LA, Vintage Playboy Playmate
Posted on July 12, 2020
1968 November Paige Young appears as Playboy Magazine’s Playmate of the Month.
This will be her primary “claim to fame” in popular culture. 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.”
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 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 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.
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!
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.
Paige visits NYC in June of 1969
1969 In March and April, images of Paige wearing a polka dot bikini appeared in dozens of USA newspapers; she was named “Queen of the Fleet” for the first annual Desert Sailboat Regatta, to take place in the fairly new city of Lake Havasu City, Arizona. (LHC)
I think some context is important, so briefly...
“Lake Havasu City is in western Arizona. It’s known as a base for trails in the nearby desert and water sports on Lake Havasu. London Bridge, relocated from England, links the mainland to marinas and a looped path in an area known as the Island.”wikipedia 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.
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!
Lubbock Avalanche Journal Mar. 27, 1969
This next 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.
With the exception of the last, this next set of clippings refer to Paige as “graduating from Van Nuys High School.”
I have researched classmates.com for many hours, in the years she would have attended and/or graduated: 1959-1962.
I have been unable to find any Paige Young or Diana Cotterell in the VNHS yearbook, nor can I find her class photo in yearbooks of Grant High School, North Hollywood High School or Birmingham High School, all high schools near VNHS.
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.
Notice the references to Playboy “Bunny.”
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.
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…
In the summer of 69, Paige is interviewed for an article in “West,” an LAT magazine, featuring a few young people who reside in the “geographically desirable” community of Marina Del Rey.
Article tells about hip Marina Del Rey, considered “G.D.” It stands for “geographically desirable.”
(As opposed to the SFV or Pasadena?)
Paige lives in a houseboat in Marina Del Rey.
Wait, doesn’t she live in Malibu!?
This is the only reference to Paige living in Marina Del Rey that I found, so far. Update on May 19, 2021: Richard Sample told me that this is when he last saw Paige, living in her houseboat on the Marina. 69 or 70
1969 continued, still touring…..Montreal
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.
August of 1969, this photo appeared one week after the shocking 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.
September 1969: Japan
September 1969 Edmonton
Several local ads announcing the first annual “Winter Fun and Snowmobile” show in Edmonton.
As you will see by the following news articles, the scheduled appearance by November 1968 Playmate Paige Young was publicized as a highlight of the show.
But when it gets to the big day……
Devin Sheedy, women’s snowmobile speed record holder, steps in for an ailing Paige Young.
*For more information a possible reason for Paige’s illness in Edmonton, see the chapter on Nick Lees”*
The articles show us that most of Paige’s year is taken up with Playboy promotional traveling and appearances; autograph signings at car shows, Playboy Clubs, TV stations, Battle of the Bands, radio interviews, newspaper interviews, etc.
The Edmonton Winter Sports show in late September of 69 is the latest date I’ve have found for her promotional appearances. (So far.)
Boston Auto Show: late Oct. 1968 to the Edmonton show: late Sept. 1969, is just under one full year. Perhaps Paige completed the contracted one-year to Playboy. Seems like she had really “had it” by the end.
Or was it just a ruse to run off with Nick Lees?
I don’t know how many people know that Sirhan-Sirhan’s hometown was Pasadena.
RFK, of course, had been assassinated in Los Angeles June of 1968. Location: the famous Ambassador Hotel at 3400 Wilshire Blvd.
Category: 1960s, LA Locations, Playboy, PMOM Tagged: #Paige Young, 1969, alimony, Bob Sanders, Boston Auto Show, Bunny, Dick Shippy, Divorce, Geographically Desireable, Jonathan Winters Show, LA History, Lake Havasu City, LHC, Lisa Baker, Los Angeles History, Marina Del Rey, Mark F. Segal, Peter Gowland, Playboy After Dark, Playboy Bunny, Playboy History, Playboy Playmate, PlayboyClub, Playboymagazine, polkadot bikini, Queen of the Fleet, Regatta Queen, Robert Banas, Robert P McCulloch, Snowmobile show, Vintage LA, Vintage Playboy, Vintage Playboy Playmate, Winter Sports Edmonton