Paige Young Images Used In Art and Merchandise. Paintings By Paige Young. (Updated 11/08/21)

By Mel Ramos. Ramos painted numerous images based on the Playmates, their bodies entwined and/or emerging out of consumer products with a brand label showing. Soda cans, candy bars, Chiquita bananas etc.
Collage by artist Martha Rosler. Rosler created a series of collages utilizing images of the Playboy Playmates. . Rosler appropriated the image of Paige from the January 1969 issue of Playboy. See Chapter 1970 #2
Paige’s image on left, this is an incomplete set of “Sip and Strip” barware, very popular in the 70s. You might have seen these at a store like Spencer’s. There should be white paint to cover the nudity until the user fills the glass with ice and liquid, but on these glasses, it has been worn off. Gowland 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 the production company.

Lid of Paige Young puzzle with “mini-centerfold.”
Puzzle can with Paige Young centerfold image courtesy of Duke Haney.

According to author LA writer Duke Haney:

“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 and was released in 70/71.

Haney describes the lid of the Playmate puzzle:

“The mini-centerfold measures 3×6.5 and two were two 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…”

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.”

*NOTE* All of images of Paige’s paintings that follow, were publicly posted on Pinterest and Facebook.

“Monica and Gort” by Paige Young.
The Laundry Girl posted on Pinterest
By Paige Young

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

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.
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 “flak.”

                                                                     #           #             #             #       

1974 #1. Death. Witness. Hefner & Huston. Cremation. Ocean burial. Documents.

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

April 7th 1974 is a Palm Sunday.

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

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

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.”

“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.”

 Source: Daily Mail online dated December 2014. Reporter Ryan Parry.

Below is the copy of the death certificate 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.

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 the “official” means of suicide.

Is the Playmate Book the original source?

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

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

 In the time since Parry’s article was published no one else has (so far) spoken publicly about knowing or having met Paige Young. No one has come forward publicly to shed any more light on what could have driven or influenced her to take her own life, or even anyone that says they knew her at one time.

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

Possibly.

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

In the early decades of the magazine, Playboy often featured a”bachelor pad” decked out with the finest stereo equipment, sure to impress the ladies, like a new T-bird or Cadillac might.

There are accounts by ex-employees of Hugh Hefner’s Holmby Hills mansion who have said the Holmby Hills mansion was equipped with video/film cameras. There are reports of video tapes of sexual encounters over the decades. Supposedly plenty of the tapes feature celebrities. Hefner ordered the sex tapes destroyed a few years before his death, to avoid them getting into the wrong hands.

There are stories of sex tapes that go back to the Chicago Playboy mansion days : one of them was clandestinely retrieved by an ex- girlfriend of Hefner. (Found in the book “Bunny” by Russell Miller.)

April 9, 1974 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. See documents below.

Mother Donna Holroyd gives permission with a shaky signature as “Donna Cotterell.”

April 9, 1974.
Response from Roosevelt Memorial Park to my information request about Paige Young.
Mother Mrs. Donna Holroyd signature.
Math figures determine Paige’s age.

Santa Monica Beach taken in 2018
Paige’s 1938 built garage apartment behind duplex in Westwood. She shared a backyard with residents Melanie and BJ. Behind Paige’s apartment is an alley.