Updated 11/28/22 Playboy January 1969. PMOY Contest. Winner: Connie Kreski. Gowland’s Ridgid Calendar 69/70.

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 student, 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?”

Cincinnati Enquirer Sept. 8, 1968

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 readers, 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 PAD, mostly the ones from 1970, the last year of the program.

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 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

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. (See cause of death below)

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.

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.”

Connie married Louis Edelman in New York in 1986 and they set up a marital home in Los Angeles/Beverly Hills.

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; she also abused alcohol.

It’s no wonder then, that she died so young; 10 years before her 12-years-older husband Louis.

Barbara told me how consistently kind and sweet Connie was to her daughters and to everybody.

She said that Connie never talked about Playboy, any of the Playmates, or her days in Hollywood.

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