Stratten wasn’t fully aware of her stunning good looks until Snider began to compliment her regularly. With his close attention, Stratten’s peers noticed how she went from wallflower to drop-dead gorgeous. She also began to gain confidence, slowly but surely. Snider saw her gradually opening up and pounced. He convinced her to try modeling, starting with professional photos taken in her prom dress. With one set of shots beneath her belt, Snider kept pressuring her to do more. He had his sights set on the Playboy casting call for playmates, The Great Playmate Hunt, celebrating Playboy’s twenty-fifth anniversary. Only to get there, Stratten would need to pose nude. With much coaxing, Snider convinced Stratten that posing sans clothes wasn’t that big of a deal. He even got her mother to sign off on the photos as Stratten, eighteen at the time, was below the legal adult age of nineteen in British Columbia. Snider secured famed photographer Ken Honey for the job, and the pictures were sent to Los Angeles.
Hugh Hefner’s team was instantly on board, asking that Stratten get on a plane immediately to fly to California. Later, they would go on to pay Honey a thousand dollars finders-fee for his photographing of Stratten. The young Canadian teen flew to the States to audition for Marilyn Gabrowski, who termed her a “babe in the woods,” a more pleasant way of saying the doe-eyed beauty was inexperienced and a bit naïve about her good looks. However, her attractiveness wasn’t quite enough to get her the top spot. Stratten was runner-up to Candis “Candy” Loving. Gabrowski wanted to hone Stratten’s skills and lessen her shyness, so she made her a playmate (or bunny) and, later, Miss August of 1979.
Stratten Skyrockets to Fame
Getting a calendar spread was a huge accomplishment for a new playmate. But Stratten was still not yet twenty-one, preventing her from doing many of the things other bunnies in the mansion could do. Hefner, equally as impressed with her beauty and work ethic as Snider was, wasn’t willing to give up on Stratten despite her age. She lived in the mansion and worked in the LA Playboy Club, taking up post by the door as a greeter rather than serving drinks to club guests like most other playmates. It was around this time that the team convinced Stratten to drop “Hoog” from Hoogstratten, making her Dorothy Stratten.
Miles away from British Columbia, one would think that Stratten was finally free from Snider. However, that was not the case. Snider was always at Stratten’s side, even at the mansion. When he wasn’t, he was regularly calling in to receive updates, even on set. The pair continued to have a relationship, much to everyone’s chagrin. Ever the social climber, Stratten’s fellow playmates remarked how Snider routinely tried to latch onto Hefner, but the mogul would have none of it, telling him in not so many words to stay away. On one occasion, Snider was banned from the mansion after he was found making out with another playmate who was not Stratten.
Despite Snider’s antics, Stratten stayed with him. It’s unclear whether she was in love or felt loyal to him for finding her and pushing her into a successful modeling career. Either way, Stratten was so committed to him that the pair married on June 1, 1979. Allegedly, Stratten went to consult Hefner prior to their marriage, and the mogul gently tried to dissuade her but felt that it ultimately wasn’t his business as he wasn’t Stratten’s father. Stratten’s fellow playmates strongly disliked Snider and weren’t approving.