Dorothy Stratten was murdered by her estranged husband, Paul Snider, in the Los Angeles apartment they once shared. The unpretentious apartment became the film set for Star 80, a movie about her life and death.
Stratten was discovered by Snider at a Dairy Queen in Vancouver, British Columbia. They were both Canadians, and Snider was looking for a woman who would bring him financial success, according to a 1980 article from The Village Voice. He arranged for a professional photographer to take pictures of Stratten and sent the photos into Playboy’s model search in 1978. She was chosen as a Playboy model in 1979 and found quick success, becoming Playmate of the Year in 1980. Stratten was also finding success in acting. She landed a role in They All Laughed starring Audrey Hepburn. On the film set, she met Director Peter Bogdanovich, and the two began an affair.
Snider found his marriage and financial security dissolving. Snider killed Stratten and then himself with a shotgun in their apartment, where they met to discuss a financial settlement. You can view more photos of the house here and videos of the house here and here. Her story will be featured on ABC’s 20/20 at 9/8C Friday, October 18, 2019.
Here’s what you need to know:
Dorothy Stratten Lived in a Shared Home in West Los Angeles With Her Husband & a Doctor
Dorothy Stratten and Paul Snider lived in an unremarkable apartment in West Los Angeles, when she was beginning to find success as a Playboy Playmate and actress. The address of Stratten’s former home, which is now occupied, is located at 10881 West Clarkson Road in Rancho Park, Los Angeles. It is a two-bedroom, two bathroom, 1,424-square foot home near the Santa Monica Freeway. The house was one of the filming locations for Star 80, a movie about Stratten’s life and death, according to IMDB.
The Village Voice reported in 1980 that Stratten and Paul Snider had a roommate, who was a doctor. The doctor often stayed with his girlfriend, so Stratten and Snider usually had the house to themselves. On August 14, 1980, Stratten went over to Snider’s house to discuss a financial settlement offer. By then, she was living with Director Peter Bogdanovich in Bel Air.
The doctor went home August 14 to find their bedroom door closed. After several hours, he opened the door and found a grisly scene. Both Stratten and Snider were dead in the bedroom. They were both nude, and had obvious fatal injuries from a 12-gauge Mossberg shotgun.
The Los Angeles Times described the scene outside the home the day of the murder suicide in an article published August 15, 1980.
“Outside the two-story stucco house in the shadow of the Santa Monica Freeway, a car was parked with Galaxena (sic) on the license plate,” the article says, referring to a movie featuring Stratten and released the day after her death. “Beside the house in the weed-choked yard, a German shepherd dog named Sparton looked curiously at the camera crews taking his picture.”
Stratten and Bogdanovich began an affair during filming of They All Laughed, a comedy starring Audrey Hepburn. It was released in 1981, after Stratten’s death.
The Film About the Murder, Star 80, Was Filmed in the Home Where Stratten Was Murdered
Star 80, a film about Dorothy Stratten’s life and death, had scenes filmed in the home where she was murdered by Paul Snider before he turned the gun on himself, according to IMDB.
The movie put great effort into making the set true to Stratten’s story, and even filmed at a Dairy Queen in Vancouver, British Columbia where she was discovered as a teen by Snider, according to IMDB. The film was released in 1983, two years after her death.
“‘Star 80’ is his most despairing film,” critic Roger Ebert wrote of the film. “After the Nazi decadence of ‘Cabaret,’ after the drug abuse and self-destruction in ‘Lenny’ and the death-obsessed hero of ‘All That Jazz,’ here is a movie that begins with violent death and burrows deeper. There were times when I could hardly keep my eyes on the screen, and a moment near the end when I seriously asked myself if I wanted to stay in the theater. And yet I think this is an important movie. Devastating, violent, hopeless, and important, because it holds a mirror up to a part of the world we live in, and helps us see it more clearly. In particular, it examines the connection between fame and obscurity, between those who have a moment of praise and notoriety, and those who see themselves condemned to stand always at the edge of the spotlight.”
He gave the film four out of four stars.