From career success as 1980's Playboy Playmate Of The Year, there was a swift and tragic fall for Stratten. Embittered husband/manager Paul Snider plotted her brutal murder.
At 14, she got a job at a local Dairy Queen to help her mother support the family. Four years later, 26-year-old Paul Snider walked into that Dairy Queen and changed the shy teenager's life forever.
In a matter of months, Dorothy "Stratten" was catapulted to success as Playboy's Miss August 1979 and 1980 Playmate of the Year. Her ambition to become an actress was fuelled by parts in several low-budget films. Feeling she "owed" Snider for her success, Stratten married him in June 1979. But the marriage was not a happy one; as Stratten's star rose, Snider's attempts to control her grew more desperate.
In the autumn of 1979, director, Peter Bogdanovich became so enthralled with the young beauty that he wrote a part for her in his latest film, a romantic comedy called "They All Laughed." The two fell in love. Realising his wife was slipping away – and with her, his ticket to wealth and power - Paul Snider murdered 20-year-old Dorothy Stratten and then turned the shotgun on himself. That was 14 August 1980. But Stratten's story was far from over.
In 1983, director Bob Fosse's "Star 80" starring Mariel Hemingway and Eric Roberts, secured Stratten a level of fame she never achieved in life. But the motion picture story ended just as a real-life drama was beginning to unfold.
Following Stratten's 1980 murder, Peter Bogdanovich adopted Stratten's family as his own, and in late 1984, published his "portrait" of her, The Killing of the Unicorn. In the book, Bogdanovich accused Playboy publisher Hugh Hefner of prompting Snider's deadly rage by denying him access to the Playboy mansion. A few weeks later, Hefner suffered a stroke, which he blamed directly on Bogdanovich's "pathological" book. Very public legal battles ensured and in 1988, Peter Bogdanovich married Stratten's 20-year-old sister Louise. The marriage lasted 13 years.