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 Year1969. 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.
The winner was Connie Kreski: a Michigan nursing school graduate, Playmate in January of 1968 and quickly turned starlet owning a camera ready face. She 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. It was pretty much a flop and skewered by the critics.
Connie Kreski had gone 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 SwingingSixties.
Famously, 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 on youtube 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 TV show by Hugh Hefner as “Connie Kreski, our Playmate of the Year.” Connie does not say one damn word the entire show.
Connie made several visible but non-speaking appearances on Playboy After Dark. Anthony Newley appeared on the show at least once and was known to hang around Mansion West.
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 50s and 60s.
After a few years Connie’s contract with Universal was dropped which merited one sentence in a Hollywood gossip column.
Connie Kreski died of cirrhosis of the liver at age 48 in 1995.
What happened in her life that it ended this way? I am beginning my research to answer this question. Like Paige, Connie’s cause of death is incorrectly listed 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,” on Connie’s entry, but I do know it does not say “Cirrhosis of the liver.”
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, 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.