Over 20 Playboys models passed before they hit the 40-year mark. The phenomenon became known as the Centerfold Curse, and it did not spare the lovely “Law & Order: SVU's” Mariska Hargitay, who lost her mom.
People passing on before fifty is not uncommon. However, when a disproportionate number of Playboy models died prematurely, it became a concern. More than 20 out of 700 models lost their lives now attributed, in some circles, to the infamous Playboy curse.
Given how gruesome some of the models' deaths were, it became impossible to ignore numbers. Was it just sheer coincidence, or had a curse befallen them? We look at some of the models who fell under the curse.
Playmates Jayne Mansfield, Marilyn Monroe, and Stephanie Adams. │ Source: Getty Images
JAYNE MANSFIELD - 34
Besides Pamela Anderson and Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield was one of the most popular playmates ever to have graced the magazine's cover. She was featured on the cover in 1955 and quickly became a regular.
In 1967, Mansfield got involved in a grisly car accident that took the lives of three adults, herself included. She was only 34 and had five children, one of them the “Law & Order: SVU's” Mariska Hargitay.
Hollywood sex symbol Jayne Mansfield (1933 - 1967), born Vera Jayne Palmer in Pennsylvania. | Source: Getty Images
The actress was only three and had been in the vehicle as well but was unharmed. The death of her mother has been a dominant factor in shaping her life, and she remembers her fondly saying:
"People didn't know that she played the violin, had a 160 IQ, had five kids and loved dogs. She was an inspiration, she had this appetite for life, and I think I share that with her."
MARILYN MONROE - 36
Monroe was more than Playboy Magazine's sweetheart. She was America's. Monroe had a years-long battle with depression and substance abuse, but when she was found in her apartment, having died from an overdose, it shook the world to a standstill.
Actress Marilyn Monroe poses for a portrait laying on the grass in 1954 in Palm Springs, California. | Source: Getty Images
She was only 36 at the time of her death, which put her in the fateful club of the playmates that did not reach their 50's. She, too, had become a victim of the "Centerfold Curse."
ASHLEY MATTINGLEY - 33
In 2020, Mattingley lost her life to suicide, leaving behind a note. The contents were, however, never revealed to the public. She had, for some time, struggled with alcohol and drug abuse.
She had made a move back to her hometown in Austin, Texas, and was making an effort at getting her life back on track. She left behind a golden retriever she'd adopted and that her sisters and twin brother promised to take care of.
Ashley Mattingly attends the STiKS ARCADE for Hurricane Sandy Relief at Boulevard 3 on December 6, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. | Source: Getty Images
Just in time, Playboy did a shoot with her for the magazine, but a few days later, May lost her life to a stroke.
DOROTHY STRATTEN - 20
Stratten featured on the cover and centerfold of the magazine in 1979 and soon after married the man that had made it all happen, Paul Snider. She was starting her acting career when the worst happened.
Those close to her always felt that Snider was not the right man for her, but she was in love and thought she owed him for making her career, but at only 20, Snider, beginning to feel like she was slipping away, shot and killed her.
Playboy Magazine's 1980 Playmate of the Year, Dorothy Stratten, 20, on 8/15/1980-Los Angeles | Source: Getty Images
Jeana Keough, also a playmate, would, later on, reveal how Stratten had worshipped the ground Snider had walked on. She opened up saying:
"She just misjudged that guy so badly. She just had that little flaw that was her flaw: not being able to see the evil in people."
EVE MEYER - 48
Meyer was the "Playmate of the Month" in June of 1955, and after she graced the cover of the magazine, she went on to build a career in acting, appearing in movies such as "The Seven Minutes.", "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls," and "Lorna."
Twenty-two years later, she met her horrific death when the plane she was in collided with another on the runway, and 583 people ended up losing their lives. The disaster is, up until today, referred to as the Tenerife Airport Disaster. She was only 48 years old.
KATIE MAY - 34
May was the modern-day playmate with an Instagram account that had 1,9 million fans. In 2015, she posted scandalous photos, and her account was closed down.
Just in time, Playboy did a shoot with her for the magazine, but a few days later, she lost her life to a stroke. She never made it as a playmate, but it was apparent that she was headed in that direction.
A visit to the chiropractor to deal with her neck pain may have been the beginning of her troubles. She had tweeted out to her fans that she would be seeing a specialist for the pain, and only hours after she did, she was no more.
Many more fell under the curse, and up until now, it begs the question of whether the models who died these premature deaths had reached their time or it was indeed the "Centerfold Curse."
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