20 Celebrities You Forgot Posed for Playboy

In 1953 a man named Hugh Hefner published a unique men’s magazine: Playboy. Make no mistake about it, erotica was around at the time, but Playboy was different. After all, many of us have heard the joke about people saying that they’re “buying it for the articles.”

While it is funny, there’s also some truth to it as Playboy attracted interviews of the top celebs of the day, as well as short stories by famous writers such as Arthur C. Clarke. In fact, there were also quite a few celebrities who posed for Playboy since its startup.

However, as time progressed we’ve actually forgot a few who appeared in the magazine, like Marge Simpson or Vanna White. As such, allow us to mention at least 20 celebrities you forgot that posed for Playboy, and some names, like Elizabeth Taylor, may just surprise you.

20. Steve Martin: Fun, Adorable and Unexpected

Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Parenthood and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels all have one thing in common: The comic genius of Steve Martin. While many of us enjoy videos of his films as well as standup performances, not many realize that he posed for Playboy!

January 1980 was the year Playboy fans were graced with the image of Steve circled by two fabulous models ringing in the New Year. Here, Martin portrayed the New Year’s baby complete with diaper! However, diehard fans of Playboy magazine were given the images of the “Island Lady”, Gig Gangel just in case the image of a diapered Martin didn’t ring their bells.

19. Jayne Mansfield: Stunning, Magnetic Personality Forged in Strength

Today, many people know of the actress Mariska Hargitay. However, did you know her mother was actress Jayne Mansfield? Well, it’s true. For those of you unfamiliar with Mansfield, know that she was one of the top actresses of the 1950s.

Her first Playboy appearance was in 1955, after which she made more appearances until her premature death in 1967. In the 1955 issue, Mansfield was named Playmate of the Month with her appearance helping to increase the magazines readership.

She was also featured in a Playboy calender as well as appearing every February from 1955 to 1958 and 1960 along with several special editions. A beautiful woman, she is considered to be the first actress to appear topless in mainstream Hollywood films.

18. Vanna White: Youthful, Pure and Laden with Loveliness

Vanna White left home to obtain a career in Hollywood. However, once there she found herself in need of rent money but didn’t want to ask her dad, “Here’s the thing. When I first moved to Hollywood, I was too embarrassed to ask my dad for rent money,” she said. “I was young and I wanted to do it on my own. So, I did these lingerie shots…”. Once she obtained a bit of fame, Hugh Hefner purchased the photos.

She told Hefner that if she was on the cover her career could end. Hefner didn’t care and did it anyway. Fortunately for Vanna she had tons of support from friends and no harm was done

17. Ursula Andress: Drop Down Gorgeous, Fearless and Purposeful

Fans of classic James Bond films know the name Ursula Andress. Her iconic scene in Dr. No caused the hearts of men everywhere to flutter out of control as she emerged from the water in her white bikini. As such, it was perfectly natural for Ursula to be featured in Playboy. In fact, after her emergence in the film, she made quite a few appearances in Playboy over the next 15 years. Andress was featured in the magazine 7 times and when asked why she did it, she replied, “because I’m beautiful.”

16. Jenny McCarthy: Beauty Blended with a Vibrant Personality and Drive

Jenny McCarthy utilized the power of Playboy to assist her in her reach for stardom. However, in the beginning it wasn’t stardom at all, it was to help pay for her college education.

But when she realized how well modeling paid, she chose it as her career instead. Playboy paid McCarthy a cool $20,000 to be featured in their October 1993 issue, making her Playmate of the Month.

Her Playboy success didn’t stop there as she later became Playboys Playmate of the Year. It was Jenny’s vibrant personality that helped her get the role of host for Playboy TV’s music video show, Hot Rocks.

15. Anna Nicole Smith: Simply Sweet, Unassuming Beauty

In May of 1992 a young woman named Vickie Smith posed for Playboy. Photographed by Steven Wayda her article provides readers with basic information, such as black being her favorite color and how Christie Brinkley was her role model.

She received much attention from her pictorial, so much so that she soon became a Playboy favorite with fans and was named 1993s Playmate of the Year.

As a result, she changed her name from Vickie to Anna Nicole. Throughout the 90s, Anna was featured in Playboy including their special editions.

14. Olivia Munn: Fabulous, Ambitious, Smart, Fun with a Sprinkling of Geekiness

Olivia Munn’s unique sense of humor and vibrant personality made her one of the gaming industry’s favorite geeks. Those traits coupled with her beauty encouraged Playboy to have her engage in one of their pictorials.

For her first appearance for their July-August 2009 issue she appeared on the cover fully clothed. Having an extensive and eclectic career in film, print, television and even music videos, Munn enjoys putting her time into animal rights causes and raising her son.

13. Sharon Stone: Solid Sexuality, Drenched in Purpose and Talent

One of the best science fiction films was the original Total Recall. In this film, Sharon Stone plays an athletic agent, nimble and firm. In order to promote herself and the film, Stone made the decision to pose nude for a Playboy pictorial spread.

The images appeared in Playboys July 1990 issue. Photographed by Phillip Dixon, the accompanying text entitled “Dishing with Sharon” by Marilyn Grabowski works to help expose Sharon’s vivid personality to readers.

12. Farrah Fawcett: Born Beautiful, Sweet Yet Fearless

One of the most iconic celebrities of the 70s, Fawcett represent the decade flawlessly. Her famous poster sold 12 million copies, and still sells today, along with her performance in Charlies Angels tugged at the heartstrings of fans across the globe. Playboy noticed this and tried to get her to pose nude, but she refused. That all changed however, when she turned 48 as she posed semi-nude for their December 1995 issue.

Photographed by David Factor, Farrah stated this about her pictorial, “It’s about guts. It’s about feeling what’s right and doing it.” Then at 50 she posed again for their July 1997 issue.

11. Cindy Crawford: Unrestrained, Young and Sure of Herself

In 1988 supermodel Cindy Crawford posed Playboy. The July issue shoot was photographed by Herb Ritts. The pictorial was entitled “Skinsuits: Cindy Crawford” and centered on beach life with plenty of sun, surf and sand.

Since that initial shoot, she was often featured in Playboy shoots and ended up being ranked at #5 of their sexiest stars. Today, Cindy looks back on her supermodel days, including her Playboy spreads and wishes she had taken more clothes off, “I look back at some of my old Playboy pictures and I think, ‘Why wasn’t I walking around naked all the time?’”

10. Charlize Theron: Innocence coupled with Beauty and Intellect

Charlize’s Playboy story is similar to Marilyn in that she did not give the magazine permission to publish them. As such, Charlize sued Playboy. Sadly, she was unsuccessful in her attempt.

The photos in question were taken during her modeling days. The cover of the 1999 Playboy had a sensual image of Theron next to the headline, “Mighty Charlize Theron Nude.” Perhaps a more appropriate headline would have been, “We Used These Without Her Consent”.

9. Joan Collins: Steamy, Intellectual and Raging with Power

It’s no secret that in Hollywood age generally results in a loss of roles, especially for actresses. However, that didn’t stop the great Joan Collins from making great strides in her career. The 1980s saw Joan Collins enjoy great success in the series, Dynasty.

At the age of 50 Joan made an unexpected decision to appear in Playboy’s December 1983 issue. Her 12 page spread was well received by fans. By doing so Joan proved that a woman’s Hollywood career wasn’t over as she approached middle age.

8. Bo Derek: A Perfect “10” the embodies Beauty and Compassion

In 1979 Bo Derek made a huge splash in the film industry via the movie “10”. Her physique and angelic features drove men wild while sending women to beauty salons for corn rows. People wanted more of Bo Derek and they definitely got it with Playboy’s 12 page spread in their March 1980 issue. She graced the cover, with the image photographed by her husband, John Derek.

The accompanying article entitled “Bold…Beautiful…Breathtaking…Bo” was also written by her husband, John. There was so much interest in Bo back in the day that she made a second Playboy appearance in the same year in their August issue. Not only that, but she was also featured in 1981, 1984 and 1994 issues. A woman of compassion, today Bo dedictes much of her time with animal rights issues.

7. Dolly Parton: Yes, Portrayals of Playful Sensuality can be Sexy Indeed!

In 2020 during an interview for 60 Minutes Australia, Dolly stated that she has no intent to retire, “I don’t plan to retire. I just turned 74 and I plan to be on the cover of Playboy magazine again. See I did Playboy magazine years ago and I thought it’d be such a hoot if they’ll go for it — I don’t know if they will — if I could be on the cover again when I’m 75.” Dolly’s first appearance in Playboy was their 1978 October issue. She refused to be nude in the magazine though they did offer her the opportunity.

6. Julie Newmar: Catwoman’s Sizzling Soul Embodying Strength, Beauty and Grace

Since we’re on the topic of celebrities that people may have forgotten appeared in Playboy, we must include the fabulous Julie Newmar. Most people recognize her as Catwoman. After all, her depiction of the sensuous villain was right on the mark.

But, she also appeared in Playboy’s May 1968 issue. Her pictorial was titled, “There Once was an Indian Maid: Julie Newmar’s unclad aquatics in the epic oater MacKenna’s Gold” make the wild west wilder still.” McKenna’s Gold was a western where Newmar played an Apache named Hesh-Ke. As such, the pictorial was generated to promote the film.

5. Elizabeth Taylor: Unexpected Imagery that Helped Her Transition into Full Womanhood

One actress many forgot did a pictorial spread in Playboy was two time Oscar winner, Elizabeth Taylor. The year was 1963. Though she had been a star since a child, it was during this time where she became known for her sensuality.

Her roles in films such as Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and her portrayal as one of history’s hottest women, Cleopatra successfully moved her from modest child star to sizzling sex symbol. Playboy noticed this and featured her in their January issue in a pictorial entitled “Liz as Cleo, an exclusive unveiling of a queen in a taylor-made role film.”

4. Marge Simpson: An Iconic Character, Female Empowerment

In true Simpson fashion, they found a unique way to celebrate their 20th anniversary: A Marge Simpson Playboy pictorial. That’s right folks, Marge was Playboy’s November 2009 cover girl. The public reaction was divided with some seeing it as female empowerment, while others saw it as a strike against true feminist ideals.

Hefner was also aware that there were Playboy fans who just wanted a lovely lady on the cover, so printed an alternative version which had an actual model, Alina Puscau on the cover. Inside, Marge’s pictorial was entitled “The Devil in Marge Simpson” with illustrations by artist Julius Preite.

3. Bettie Page: Uninhibited, Sweet and Full of Life

Bettie Page was known as the Queen of Pinups and was among the first batch of ladies to pose for a Playboy centerfold. Her 1955 pictorial in Playboy was rather festive, as she appeared totally nude wearing northing but a Santa hat!

In fact, she also nailed Playboys Playmate of the month for January 1955. What made her so successful was that she was able to pose for Playboy and various photographers nude while projecting the “girl next door” image.

According to author Richard Foster, “She was the greatest model in front of a still camera in history, so, in a way, she is an artist. In a way she suffered for everyone else’s benefit. She brought joy to so many people. She had joy in her life but she also had moments of great tragedy.” 

2. Drew Barrymore: Playful, Wild and Tasteful

Drew Barrymore was just 19 years old when she posed for Playboy in 1995. This multi-talented personality is the descendant of one of America’s most dedicated and devoted theatrical families: The Barrymore’s. Drew’s wild child period fed the tabloids.

However, the imagery presented by Playboy were anything but. The photos are lovely, tasteful and show the world a feminine, soft and lovely side of the actress. On a side note, her godfather director Steven Spielberg sent her a quilt, with a note requesting that she cover herself up.

1. Marilyn Monroe: Images Exhibiting Innocence and Virtue

Truth be told, according to the biography channel, Marilyn never posed for Playboy at all. Hefner used 4 year old nude photos of Marilyn for his magazine. In fact, the four photos used were the result of Marilyn’s need to make a car payment.

She was paid $50.00 by photographer Tom Kelley, end of story. Kelley then sold the images to Western Lithograph for a cool $900. Hefner then purchased the rights for $500 in 1953 and used them in his first issue. Marilyn was not paid for the photos as she had no rights. She never met Hefner either.

Final Thoughts

Well, there you have it a list of a few celebrities who posed for Playboy that you may have forgotten about. No matter what you think of the magazine, it was a valuable tool in bringing sensuality to people in a classy way.

Playboy was a magazine that successfully blended beautiful women, topical news stories, literature, revealing and respectful interviews. It helped to bring the sexual revolution to its readers in a meaningful and tasteful way. Even though it published its last hard copy in 2020, it will always be an integral part of our cultural and intellectual development.

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