Beautiful Tragic Models: 1950s to Present

Updated on January 29, 2019

Model- Joi Lansing

Joi Lansing- Actress

Publicity Still of Joi

Joi After Plastic Surgery of the Jaw & Chin

1950s Pinup, Joi Lansing

Joi Lansing was born in Salt Lake City Utah on April 6, 1928. Her family moved to Los Angeles California in 1940 and Joi immediately rushed to all of the Hollywood studios in hopes of being noticed. In the good old days of the studio system an actress could easily be signed and then begin collecting a paycheck whether or not she was given any parts in movies. As luck would have it, Joi was signed with MGM at the age of 14. She was living every girls dream; a glamorous life at the studio where she actually finished high school, took dancing lessons, voice lessons and was regularly thrown bit parts in movies.

Joi was riding high! All of this fun and a handsome paycheck to boot! It was not long before Joi married her first husband, Jerry Safron, in 1950 at the age of 17. It was a short lived union that ended in an annulment. It was a personal failure but Joi was too young and had too many other options to stay focused on one man. She was soon dating Mickey Rooney exclusively every night, and the couple were seen at all the hot spots such as Ciro's and the Mogambo. Joi was living the fantasy of many pretty young girls with high hopes of Hollywood stardom; dressing up, modeling pretty clothes, and being paid to improve her talents made her girlfriends day jobs seem mundane and it was impossible for Joi to want a simple life of motherhood and family.

In 1948 she had a good role as a model in The Counterfeiters, and then went on to star in a number of cheesy movies in which she had good solid parts and continued to develop as an actress.

Lansing was given several roles that allowed her to wear skimpy and tight fitting clothing as the 1950s curvy look gained popularity. Joi was 5' 4" and barely 105 pounds, with a small waist and platinum hair. She was the ideal image of the pinup girl which led to many more parts in B movies and some memorable roles in Superman and the Lucy Desi Comedy Hour. Just when things seemed to be solidifying in her career; there had been plans to cast her as Superman's wife in the new Superman series, but tragically, actor George Reeves mysteriously died and Joi was back to accepting parts on popular television shows but nothing permanent.

Although she was beautiful, she fretted over her imperfections and their ramifications on her career. Joi had a fine shapely and slender frame but her facial proportions were less than ideal. This led Joi to get plastic surgery on her jawline. In her youth her cheeks looked large in comparison to her small and slightly receding chin and jaw. After having facial implants Joi looked more balanced and symmetrical. As she aged she desperately struggled with trying to develop her career into something more meaningful. Joi was getting older and still had no children in her personal life and had not reached the notoriety that she had hopped for. The life that seemed so promising when she first landed her studio job as a teenager was now empty and depressing. She married for the second time in 1951 to Lance Fuller, and was divorced by 1953. She married her third husband, Stan Todd, in 1962 with the hope that she would develop a solid career and then focus on a traditional family life. She, just like Marilyn Monroe, began to feel depressed in her 30s due to her desire to live a normal, traditional life. Her face and figure were becoming the things that she clung to, and her last memorable and substantial appearances were on the popular sit com, The Mothers In Law, in the late 1968.

Joi was devastated when she was diagnosed with breast cancer and whether she had a lumpectomy or a breast removed was not publicly released, but she definitely had an operation that failed, as she died later that same year in 1972 at the age of 44.

Sharon Tate

The Murder of Sharon Tate

When one hears of tragic beauty the first thing that comes to mind is very often, Sharon Tate and the brutal murder that took the lives of Sharon, her house guests, and her unborn child.

She had come from Texas in hopes of gaining fame and fortune as a Hollywood actress, and all seemed to be going as planned for Sharon. She was quickly noticed and landed a string of modeling jobs and bit parts on the Beverly Hillbillies, Petticoat Junction and popular situation comedies of the early 1960s. Sharon was on the fast track to fame and fortune by all accounts, but she shocked friends when she chose to marry Roman Polanski, a short, unattractive man who was considered to be an up and coming director. Sharon was at the point in her life where she wanted to settle down, and her new husband was more interested in exploiting his wife's beauty than of marrying and starting a family, however, the two did marry in the modern fashion of the time with the groom dressed in a flashy coat in the "Sargent Pepper" Beatles style, while Sharon wore a mini dress. She soon discovered that she was pregnant and made every attempt to hide the fact from her husband, who would have told her to get an abortion. After several months Sharon told Roman that she was having a baby, and he was furious.

After a rather depressing and lonely few months of pregnancy Roman eventually warmed up to the idea of being a father and Sharon was thrilled with her life. The couple lived in a rented home on Cielo drive.

The marriage was a strained one as Roman regularly cheated on Sharon, and its reported that Sharon had a few flings that were generated by the neglect of her husband.

On August 9, 1969 Roman was in Europe and Sharon was 8 months pregnant at home with several house guests when the Charles Manson gang broke into their home and began savagely stabbing all of them. Sharon begged that they spare the life of her unborn baby, asking that they keep her alive just to deliver the baby and then kill her. The gang pondered the idea for a while but then remembered that their ultimate hatred was people who had earned money, and Sharon was a "rich pig" in their eyes, so they went on stabbing her 16 times.

Roman Polanski came back from Europe to find the ultimate tragedy, his wife was dead at the age of 26.

Dorothy Stratton

Dorothy Stratten as a Bunny

Dorothy in Space Aliens1980

Dorothy Stratton and Paul Snyder

Dorothy and her Sister, Louise

Hugh Heffner and Dorothy Stratten

Dorothy Stratten and Peter Bogdanovich

Peter Bogdanovich and Louise Stratten

Dorothy Stratten Murder

Dorothy Stratten was born February 28, 1960 in Canada. Her parents were Dutch immigrants who had a son one year after Dorothy was born and then another girl, Louise Stratten in 1968. In 1977 Dorothy was working at Dairy Queen when she met 26 year old pimp, promoter and drug dealer, Paul Snider. Paul was bad news for Dorothy, for he began romancing her without regard to her delicate age and took her to a studio to have professional nude photographs taken of her and sent them off to playboy. Playboy enterprises responded enthusiastically and needed a model release from Stratten's parents due to the fact that Dorothy was under 18. Dorothy's parents refused, but that did not stop Paul, he forged her mothers' signature and Paul continued to woe Dorothy knowing that in order to get the most out of his beautiful girlfriend he would be better off to move her away from her family, and better yet move her all the way to Los Angeles.

In 1979 the couple arrived in Hollywood. That same year Dorothy became the Miss August centerfold in Playboy and was given work as a bunny at the Playboy Club. Hugh Heffner goes through pretty girls like tap water, making money off of their brief nude exposure in his magazine and then sending them off into the realities of life. Indeed, most girls who pose for Playboy view their initial photo shoot as a step into the big time but it is usually the biggest thing that they ever do. Most playmates are knocked up and living in a trailer park just a few years after posing nude, but there were high hopes for Dorothy based on the fact that work continued to pour in.

The same year that she posed for Playboy she was cast in several television shows, and even appeared in some B movies. She received so much positive attention that in 1980 she was named Playmate of the year. Dorothy clearly had potential and no time was wasted in casting her in more films and pumping up her publicity.

Paul Snider was thrilled that he was riding high off his hard work in promoting Dorothy, the only problem he had now was that other men wanted to control Dorothy. Hugh Hefner was one who told Dorothy to break away from Paul, stating that he looked and acted shady, and that people did not like him. He further pointed out that Snider was casting a negative light on her, but Paul was like a dog with a bone, he intended to get rich and famous off of Dorothy, and would simply not be dumped in the dust while she moved on to bigger and better things. Although Dorothy wanted to be loyal to Paul at first she clearly began to feel that she could have younger and more suitable men to date and that her career would be fine without him. Then she became in awe of powerful men such as Hugh Hefner, and Peter Bogdanovich; a powerful and wealthy director. Paul Snyder, who at one time seemed to have knowledge and power now looked like a small town nobody. To make matters worse for Paul, Hefner was encouraging Dorothy to dump him, and Bogdanovice began romancing Dorothy with promises of great movie parts in the future. Paul knew that he was on shaky ground and the couple regularly fought but they surprised everyone and married suddenly. Apparently, Paul's manipulative actions were working, but they would not work for long.

Dorothy, with her powerful director boyfriend pulling the strings, turned around quickly and began divorce proceedings. Paul decided that if he couldn't have Dorothy no one else would. He talked to Dorothy on the phone about his financial worries, this led Dorothy to come to Paul's home, the one that hey lived in during their brief marriage, with $1,000 cash for him in hopes of helping him and easing some of her guilt for dumping him.

Paul was now sharing the home with a doctor who was not at home when Dorothy arrived on August 14, 1980. At approximately 11 pm the doctor was contacted by Snider's private investigator who had told the doc that Snider had not been answering his phone all day long. The doctor broke down the door to Snider's room to discover the bodies of Dorothy and Paul both dead by a high caliber shotgun blast. Apparently Paul had raped Dorothy then shot her before he then continued to sexually abuse Dorothy's corpse before shooting himself.

It was a shocking discovery that would propel Dorothy into immortality. Several movies have been made about the sad short life of Dorothy Stratten who died at the age of 20. Notably, Star 80, starring Muriel Hemingway, and Death of a Centerfold, The Dorothy Stratten Story.

Peter Bogdanovich quickly flew to Canada to be near Dorothy's family and gain more knowledge of her life so that he could write a book about her life. The book, The Killing of the Unicorn, Dorothy Stratten 1960-1980 blamed the death of Dorothy largely on Hugh Hefner, claiming she was a victim of Playboy Enterprises and so was her husband, Paul. Hefner did not take the attack quietly and publicly accused Bogdanovich of going to Canada to get his hands on Dorothy's younger sister, Louise. Bogdanovich announced that he was suing Hefner and Gloria Allred was soon all over the mainstream media with Dorothy's sister stating that there was nothing going on between Peter and her and that these claims by Hefner were disgusting. When the lawyers dung deeper into the case, Bogdonavich dropped the case as the facts were going to do him in.

As soon as Louise Stratten reached the age of 20, she and Peter Bogdanovich married which led her mother to state, "Now I have lost two daughters."

Niki And Krissy Taylor

Krissy and Niki

Krissy Taylor Dead at 17

Krissy Taylor was born in Miami Florida where she lived with her two older sisters and parents. Krissy's older sister, Niki, was a supermodel which opened the door for Krissy at the age of 11 to begin her modeling career, much in the same fashion as Margaux Hemingway had opened the door for her younger sister Mariel in the 1970s. To cash in on the two beautiful girls and the success of Niki Taylor, Seventeen magazine photographed Krissy with Niki and was she was soon signed to a modeling agency in New York.

At 13 her career began to skyrocket after she went with her sister in Milan to see a fashion show. Krissy impulsively was fitted by Italian designers and walked the runway with the big models of the time and was quickly called by Vogue, and Cosmopolitan.

Her career seemed un-stopable until she was found unconscious in her parents home in 1995. CPR attempts proved futile and Krissy was pronounced dead at the hospital. She was 17 years old.

On examination Krissy was found to have allergies that congested her respiratory system. The press stated that she had died of an asthma attack. Krissy's family was not satisfied with that conclusion due to the fact that Krissy never showed any signs of having allergies. This led the family to have their daughter's heart tissue analyzed where it was discovered that their daughter died of a rare cardiac disorder.

Niki And Krissy Taylor on Seventeen

Margaux Hemingway

Margaux Hemingway Suicide

Jack Hemingway, eldest son of Ernest Hemingway lived a life of luxury and glamor. While traveling he met a woman who lived in the same idle class that he did, Byra Louise. The handsome couple married in1949 and quickly had a daughter, Joan in 1950. The couple romped and lived lavishly, often indulging in drunken all night parties. It was during a one of these carefree parties that led to the birth of Margaux Hemingway born in 1954, and later Mariel in 1961.

Naturally beautiful Margaux was an instant celebrity due to her relation to Ernest Hemingway. She soon found herself the center of the press which led to her modeling career. Margaux's fame skyrocketed after she became the Faberge spokes model of the 1970s. Margaux's face was seen on Cosmopolitan, Time, Vogue and McCall's by 1975, and she was soon being approached with offers to star her in movies. At the age of 19 she married Erroll Wetanson. The marriage was a disaster from the beginning and it only lasted three years.

Margaux was begin photographed on a regular basis at Studio 54 and all the hot spots of the 70s, unfortunately, she, like so many other famous figures of the 70s was abusing herself with alcohol, speed and numerous social drugs. However, when she was approached to star in the movie, Lipstick, in 1976, Margaux was enthusiastic. The movie was designed to turn Margaux Hemingway into a major star, but her sister, Mariel was cast as her sister in the movie and she ran away with the picture, Margaux's acting career was over.

Feeling defeated in her career and her personal life, she married again in 1979 to Bernard Foucher.

While sister Mariel was busy making more movies Margaux was still being photographed as a top model and in the local places to be seen, however, her substance abuse was catching up with her. She had toyed with so many substances that her natural chemistry was off balance and Margaux sank into a deep depression. During her depression she began battling eating disorders. Margaux had all the right connections that seemed to work against her as she lost herself continually.

The name Margaux Hemingway was synonymous with tragedy and wasted youth by the late 1980s. She divorced Bernard in 1985 and spent the 80s and 90s suffering from clinical depression. At one point Margaux gained over 75 pounds.

In 1996 Margaux committed suicide on the anniversary of her grandfather's suicide.She was discovered in her Santa Monica flat after taking an overdose of phenobarbital. She was 42 years old.

Mariel was in denial after her sister's suicide stating that she was doing much better and seemed happier, however, over time and with some education Mariel now realizes that a depressed person will often seem better after they have decided to end their life.

Linda Sobek

Linda Sobek, The Missing Model

Linda Sobek was 5'4" figure model figure model. Although she was making a place for herself as a spokes model and in fitness/pin up work, she was not exactly headed for the big leagues, but she was becoming a familiar face on sitcomes, and minor work. Linda gained media attention when they dubbed her "The Missing Model."

She had gotten a part in Married with Children and did not show up for her fitting. The last anyone had seen or heard of Linda was when she called her mom and said that she had to go because she was running late for a photo shoot. She was never heard from again, but the knowledge of the fact that Linda was going to meet a photographer somewhere and have some photos taken was figured out quickly.

Charles Rathbun was the photographer who took photos of Linda. He claimed that Linda was accidentally run over while he was photographing her, and that he had panicked and left the scene. Some medical experts supported Rathburn while others pointed to evidence that Linda was strangled.

Linda died at the age of 27.

Questions & Answers


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      • limpet profile image

        Ian Stuart Robertson 

        22 months ago from London England

        There are many questions that need to be explained on these tragic lives.

      • profile image


        3 years ago

        My domme has now distanced herself from my companionship in favour of a'real man'.

      • limpet profile image

        Ian Stuart Robertson 

        5 years ago from London England

        To impress my Domme i have been instructed to submit the name of the English fashion model better known in Hollywood as Sabrina, a name which derives from the Welsh - a boundary demarked by a river.

        At the age of 9 well before i experienced adolescent joy, Sabrina came to prominence along with Her bustline (39 E cup) Sabrina certainly had a charisma as displayed by Her admirering followers. After a brief career Sabrina went into seclusion. Last i heard Sabrina is in the land of the living.

      • limpet profile image

        Ian Stuart Robertson 

        5 years ago from London England

        Error; profuse apologies for my posting 'twenty eight club' that should read the 'twenty seven club' possibly one of the most disturbing coincidences in history!

        P.S. My Domme gives me a demerit mark for each of my errors and this time She is not impressed

      • limpet profile image

        Ian Stuart Robertson 

        5 years ago from London England

        Don't know the ins and outs of the fashion industry but i summise it could be that there is a lot of stress put on young models who need to be tough to survive in that profession.

      • KimberlyLake profile image

        Kimberly Lake 

        5 years ago from California

        Tragic stories, I remember some of them. Well written hub. Voted up and interesting.

      • limpet profile image

        Ian Stuart Robertson 

        5 years ago from London England

        it is so sad when anyone goes befoere their time

        look at the 'twenty eight club' look at Michael

        Jackson, Marilyn, Judy Garland and so on

        Rest in peace

      • GlendaGoodWitch profile imageAUTHOR


        5 years ago from California

        @ Bk42author- Thank you so much for stopping by.Yes, the name Joi Lansing is definitely not remembered, but her face is somewhat familiar to those who watch a lot of Antenna Tv.

        RachelOhalloran- Thank you for the vote up and the share. Yes, its so easy to see a beautiful face and assume that they've got it made, but life happens to us while we are busy making other plans.

      • RachaelOhalloran profile image

        Rachael O'Halloran 

        5 years ago from United States

        These are very tragic stories, and unfortunately, I remember them all. This is very well written and researched, voted up and shared.

      • Bk42author profile image

        Brenda Thornlow 

        5 years ago from New York

        Great hub! Before reading this I had never heard of Joi Lansing nor do I remember the death of Krissy Taylor. Thanks so much for sharing! Voted up!


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