Tuesday, 19 November 2019

Playmates in Space: the girls of Apollo 12

Pete Conrad on the Moon November 19th 1969

It is fifty years ago today that astronauts Pete Conrad and Alan Bean became the third and fourth men to walk on the Moon. The entire crew of three had a US Navy background but their backup crew, David Scott, Alfred Worden and James Irwin, were all US Air Force (they would later form the Apollo 16 crew). As a typical inter-service prank the back-up crew managed to insert photocopies of pictures of Playboy Playmates into the astronauts’ lunar checklist (see ringed, above), which the back-up crew had to prepare for the mission astronauts. These were a schedule of tasks to be performed on the moonwalks in a three and half inch by three and a half inch ring-bound booklet which were attached to the left wrists of their spacesuits. The astronauts didn’t discover the inserted pictures until actually on the moonwalks, as the check lists were not used in training. Each astronaut had two pictures inserted into their checklists.

Conrad: Angela Dorian

Pete Conrad’s contained, firstly, a picture of Angela Dorian, Playboy Playmate of the Month for September 1967. The caption to the picture in the checklist read ‘Seen any interesting hills & valleys?’ 

Angela Dorian: original photo

Angela Dorian was born Victoria Vettri in New York to Italian immigrant parents. She was already an actress on TV and film, including Yul Brynner Mayan epic Kings of the Sun (1963), when she posed for Playboy, at the age of twenty-two. She lost out on the lead role in Stanley Kubrick’s Lolita (1962). She followed up her 1967 appearance in Playboy by becoming the Playmate of the Year for 1968.

When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth

Best known for her subsequent roles in Rosemary’s Baby (1968) and, especially, the Hammer prehistoric adventure When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth (1970), her career petered out in the early seventies; her last film being the far from epic Invasion of the Bee Girls (1973)

In court in 2011

 In 2011, after having shot her husband in the back at close range (he survived), during an argument, she was charged with attempted voluntary manslaughter and sentenced to nine years in prison. She was  released last year.

Conrad: Reagan Wilson

The second Playmate in Conrad's check list was Reagan Wilson, Miss October 1967, captioned ‘Preferred tether partner’; referring to a procedure for shared life support in an emergency. 

Reagan Wilson: original photo 

Californian Wilson was twenty when she posed for Playboy and had also done a little bit of TV acting. She made two films in the early seventies, both heavily featuring her 40 inch bust, before getting married and opening an antique shop with her husband.

Alan Bean’s first checklist picture was Cynthia Myers, Miss December 1968, with a caption ‘Don’t forget – describe the protuberances’.

Myers was from Ohio, had just graduated from high school and was still only seventeen when she posed for Playboy.  Like all the images used for the checklists the picture came from the 1970 Playboy calendar which had just gone on sale.  Paid $5,000 for her shoot she was voted the 10th greatest Playmate of all time in 2000. For two reasons.

Cynthia's distinctive silhouette in Beyond the Valley of the Dolls

She had an uncredited role as a native girl in the Hammer film The Lost Continent (1968) but her biggest role came in Russ Meyer's Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970) alongside another Playboy Playmate, Dolly Read. She died from lung cancer in 2011 at the age of sixty-one.

Bean: Leslie Bianchini

Bean's second checklist Playmate was Leslie Bianchini, Miss January 1969, with a caption of  ‘Survey-her activity’ a pun on the Surveyor 3 unmanned lander, which the mission was due to inspect on the surface of the Moon.

Leslie Bianchini: original photo

Leslie Bianchini was the daughter of an Illinois turkey farmer but the family moved to San Francisco and Playboy magazine found her conveniently working as a Bunny girl at the Playboy Club in that city. Twenty-one when her pictorial was shot she was a keen horsewoman and she later became a breeder of Arabian horses.

Gordon: DeDeLind

Dick Gordon, orbiting the Moon in the command module was not left out, either, and had the November 1969 page (in colour rather than a small photocopy) of that year’s Playboy calendar (rather than a picture from the 1970 edition as Conrad and Bean had) in his locker (above), which he discovered while the others were on the Moon. His Playmate was DeDe Lind who posed in August 1967, at the age of twenty. Miss Lind was so mature for her age that she was spotted by a photographer at a Californian swimming pool at the age of fourteen and started her modelling career then. Her Playboy centrefold received more fan mail than any other in the magazine’s history. Nearly thirty years after her centrefold she posed naked again for Playboy at the age of forty nine. In 2011 Dick Gordon sold the Calendar page at auction for $21,000.

In the image at the top of the page you can just make out the checklist on Pete Conrad's left arm displaying the picture of Reagan Wilson.

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Mariam Agredano at the Giro d'Italia 2019

It's not just the podium girls at the Giro; many of the sponsors employ young ladies to promote their products too, at the start or finish. Very visible this year has been Argentinian model Mariam Agredano (left, above).  She has been working for the curiously titled Named Sport, who are an Italian sports nutrition company, one of the Giro's main sponsors.

Arguably, of all the Grand Tours, the Giro has the loveliest girls and, unlike the Tour or the Vuelta, has had no serious criticism of it employing these ladies.

After all, these ladies have rights too and what is a world class beauty like Señorita Agredano going to do if she can't look sullenly gorgeous at a cycle race. Model lingerie?

There is no such thing as perfection, of course, but if I had to design my visually perfect lady (like Arnold Schwarzenegger in Total Recall (1990), perhaps) then I would venture that she would be very close to the lovely Mariam.  As one of my friends observed in the past: "He does like them dark and obvious".

She is so world class that she made the cover of the summer issue of Australian Penthouse for January/February 2017. 

Now I do not like things coming from the Argentine, on the whole, as their government owes me about  $75,000 in unpaid fees which I know I will never get. "Forget it, you are British," my not very helpful Argentinian lawyer told me. I do not buy Argentinian wine, therefore, but I am prepared to make an exception for Mariam.

Fortunately, this is my adults only blog (although why naked ladies should be confined to adults (theoretically), by the puritans in American internet companies, I don't know, as I am certain teenage boys (and no doubt some teenage girls ) would enjoy them too.

We can, therefore, present these other fine studies of Señorita Agredano, from her Penthouse pictorial,  which were taken in Spain, where she now lives.

Lovely photography by Spanish fashion and beauty photographer Edu Gómez,

Saturday, 27 April 2019

Barbara Steele for Playmen: September 1967

The fourth issue of Playmen appeared in September 1967 and contained a pictorial on actress Barbara Steele. Born in Birkenhead she studied at the Chelsea Art School, as she planned to become a painter, and then the Sorbonne in Paris.

Although she had a few small parts in British films at the end of the fifties she made her name in Italian horror films of the sixties, principally Black Sunday (1960), although she also appeared in Hollywood's The Pit and the Pendulum (1961) and then a number of other cult Italian horror films,  She also had a part in Federico Fellini's . (1963) and  Fellini wanted her to appear more in the film but she was contracted to another movie/

She carried on acting, sporadically, during the sixties and seventies,  becoming a cult star.  She took ten years off from acting but started to work as a producer, including working on two mini-series I remember watching, the Robert Mitchum WW2 dramas The Winds of War (1983) and War and Remembrance (1988); even winning an Emmy for the latter.  More production and acting roles followed, the last of which was in 2016.

Given Playmen had only just started showing nipples on its pages a month or so earlier, it was a bit of a leap to have Miss Steele flashing her fur in these shots. Presumably, the argument would have gone that she was, in fact, dressed.

In fact, many copies of this issue were seized by the police and Playmen didn’t risk any more pubic hair on its pages for nearly five years. Still, it beat both Playboy and Penthouse to the furry grail by some years.

Sunday, 21 April 2019

Jill St John for Playmen: March 1968

March 1968's issue of Playmen featured a specially shot pictorial of Jill St John by 'Pierluigi' photographed in the home she shared with recent, third husband, the singer, Jack Jones.  She was still only 27 at the time and it would be another three years before her slightly annoying but visually impressive appearance in Diamonds are Forever (1971)

Born Jill Oppenheim, she started acting on radio at six and made her screen debut at nine.  She ws put under contract bu Universal at the age of sixteen.  Making her name in a string of comedies in the sixties, after a series of earlier 'pretty girl' type roles, she had been nominated for a Golden Globe for Come blow your horn (1963), appearing with Frank Sinatra,

St John's fourth marriage was to Robert Wagner and when they met he was starring in TV detective show Hart to Hart with Stefanie Powers, with whom St John had been in the same Ballet Company as a child, along with Natalie Wood, Wagner's late wife.

These are quite revealing shots for an American actress at the time but photographer Pierluigi was one of the top cinema stills photographer of the time and a friend of Frank Sinatra with whom St John had just appeared again. in Tony Rome (1967).   Pierluigi Praturlon (1924-1999), to give him his full name (which he never used professionally), after starting as a photo journalist (a shot he took of the reclusive Greta Garbo in Rome in 1947 made his name), began shooting on film sets in Rome in 1949 capturing the glory days of Italian cinema after World War 2.

By the period these pictures were taken, he was considered one of the best stills photographers in the world. It was a shot he took of Anita Ekberg in the Trevi Fountain in 1958 that inspired Federico Fellini to recreate the scene in La Dolce Vita (1960).  He captured all the top stars from not only Italy but also Hollywood and Sofia Loren made him her personal photographer.

A year later, another Italian magazine, Kent, published some more shots from the shoot by Pierluigi and being a completist I felt compelled to include them here.

Here are a few more outtakes as well. What a very splendid young woman she was.  Pierluigi had a reputation for making his sitters feel at ease and catching them in a relaxed manner, He certainly caught St John looking very relaxed and informal in his characteristic reportage style.

Sunday, 14 April 2019

Anna Gaël for Playmen, November 1967

Today's lady from Playmen is Hungarian actress Anna Gaël (born 1943). She had appeared in her first film in 1962 and made a number of, usually, low budget films in Europe until 1981. She also had several TV appearances, including an episode of The Persuaders in 1971. She appeared in one of my wargaming group at school's favourite WW2 films The Bridge at Remagen (1969), Her choice of role was not always of the highest and she appeared in the notorious, low-budget British SF spy sex 'comedy' Zeta One (1969) with Yutte (Lust for a Vampire (1971)) Stensgaarde, James Robertson Justice and Charles Hawtrey, who must have really, really needed the money.

When Playmen first appeared in June 1967 fully uncovered bare breasts were not permissible but gradually, over the next few months, the magazine sneaked some in, despite regularly having the copies seized by the Italian authorities from newsstands (the government was closely backed by the Vatican who really disapproved).  Anna Gaël's pictorial was a real barrier breaker and she was topless in virtually every shot.  

In 1968 she became Viscountess Weymouth, having married English aristocrat Alexander Thynne and since 1992, when his father died, her proper title has been The Most Honourable The Marchioness of Bath. A case of very successful social climbing indeed!

Monday, 8 April 2019

Marika Green for Playmen, December 1967

Much to my surprise my recent Wargames Ladies from Italian magazine Playmen have been very popular so I will feature a few more over the next month or so as my particular friend Angela enjoys their retro sixties style.

So here, from Playmen's December 1967 issue, photographed by Giancarlo Botti, we have actress Marika Green, Born in Stockholm in 1943 her father was Swedish and her mother French. 

Her first film role was at the age of 16 in Robert Bresson's Pickpocket (1959). She worked consistently in, mainly French, films and TV from then until the early nineties but her best known role was as one of the three leads in the notorious Emmanuelle (1974).

Oh, and she is Eva Green's aunt!