When Playboy started back in 1953, the goal for Hugh Hefner was very simple. He wanted to provide entertainment in a magazine for men between the ages of 18 and 80 that was going to be not only sophisticated, but with a spicy edge! Hugh just happened to figure that one of the things that men enjoyed was looking at women without clothes on, so I suppose that ‘edge’ was easy to find!
As the company continued to grow, they kept that message at heart. The women you are going to see are not only sexy, but also classy and were shot in flattering ways that make it easy to see why they desired the opportunity to pose in front of their camera.
The history of Playboy is filled with countless women that may cause you to take a double-take, even if you don’t recognize them from other mediums, but that’s not who we are talking about it.
Over the years, the cover has also been graced by some of the most influential or recognizable celebrities of all time. We’re talking about women that have been on television for decades, Academy Award winners, maybe you’re even going to come across a photo of one of your favorite musicians wearing nothing at all! In some cases, your favorite musician’s close family! (Who knew Mick Jagger had a daughter, or that she posed? Well, you do now!)
While some of the women that you’re about to see chose to pose, you’re also going to come across three women who did not! They had their photos taken prior to becoming famous, but the photos were then sold to Hugh.
I won’t give it away, but I’ll give you a hint for each. 1) Someone may want to buy a vowel, but she just wanted to buy the photos back! 2) She definitely won’t be singing about being a virgin and 3) She was definitely Furiosa when she saw the photos! (…okay that was one awful).
17. Vanna White
Well I mean, when you are just so damn good at turning over those letters: how could Hugh not want you to be in his magazine? Vanna started appearing on the Wheel of Fortune in 1982, and in 1987, she graced the cover of Playboy.
Unfortunately for Vanna, she is the first of the three celebrities on the list who had photos of her that were taken before she became known published in Playboy. The photos were originally taken by her partner, and feature White wearing some see-through lingerie, but were later bought by Hugh.
The photos were a huge point of contention for Vanna, who was furious that she was put on the cover of Playboy without her permission. In an interview, she explains the dialogue that occurred
“Hugh was my friend and he said, ‘Vanna, we are going to put you on the cover.’ I said, ‘If you put me on the cover, my career could be ruined,’ and they did it anyway,” she said. “I don’t talk to him, I feel bad, it was a long time ago but that really hurt my feelings.”
16. Drew Barrymore
Drew Barrymore appeared on the cover of Playboy in January, 1995. At the time, she was one of the most successful actresses in Hollywood, having had an iconic role in the film E.T: The Extra Terrestrial and earned a Golden Globe nomination for the film Guncrazy in 1993.
She was only 19 years old at the time, making the photoshoot all the more shocking, especially to her Godfather Steven Spielberg!
As a fun joke, for her 20th birthday Spielberg gave her a quilt with a note saying “Cover yourself up!” Included were also some altered photos of her shoot but with her clothed. In the un-altered photos Barrymore posed in a variety of poses for the magazine, and was featured on the cover.
15. Latoya Jackson
There is no doubt that La Toya Jackson did not reach quite the same levels of fame as her brother, Michael. Yet one thing she has to her credit, is the fact that in 1991, she had one of the highest-selling issues of the magazine of all time. Given that the cover used the fun title “Michael’s Sister in a Thriller Pictorial”, you can imagine that helped hook people in. It sold over 8 million copies, and she then returned to be featured in a Playboy video. When asked about her motivation for posing, Jackson stated “to show my parents they couldn’t dictate to me any more—that I control my life!”
I am sure the payday from the photoshoot definitely didn’t hurt her ability to have some independence!
14. Lizzy Jagger
Lizzy Jagger appeared in Playboy in 2011. While she may not jump out to you as someone famous, I bet you recognize her last name! Lizzy is the daughter of legendary rock-star, Mick Jagger. I suppose when your Dad rocks as hard as he does, you need to find ways to assert your rebellious nature too! Lizzy, to her credit, also has some modelling experience, so it’s not like she was just picked for her name! It also must run in the family, as her mother (Mick’s former partner), Jerry Hall has also appeared in the magazine in 1985. As you’ll see below, this is not the only family connection to appear in the issue of Playboy.
13. Ginger Spice
Wait, someone from the Spice Girls was in Playboy? I guess she just decided to give fans what they want, what they really really want! Ginger appeared in the magazine in 1998. The band had disbanded by the next year and Ginger attempted to start a solo career, but shockingly did not have quite the same success. She certainly did not turn to Hugh because she was hurting for money. Ginger reportedly made almost $30 million during her last two years with the famed group!
12. Azaelia Banks
Banks is definitely one of the more controversial celebrities out there. For example, after the Bill Cosby scandal came to light, Banks chose to tweet out “”them b**ches frontin’ like they wasn’t trying to get some of that pudding pop!!!!”….Yikes!
Banks also has the distinction of being one of the last musicians to appear nude in the magazine, as Playboy has now switched to a non-nude format. She wasn’t shy about it either! Posing with a weird, metal zippered harness that honestly looks a little more confusing than alluring, there is no doubt that she is a woman who is incredibly confident in her body. Banks released her latest mix-tape Slay-Z on March 24th.
11. Tia Carrere
Tia was one of the biggest stars of the 90s, appearing in several classics such as Wayne’s World and True Lies. There is no doubt that Hugh would not have been calling her when she was at her peak of popularity, but it was not until 2003 that she decided to bare it all for the magazine. Why the change of heart? Tia got divorced from her husband, Elie Samaha, in 2000. I suppose that’s one way to re-assert your independence as a non-married woman!
10. Sharon Stone
There is no doubt that society looks at Sharon Stone as one of the biggest sex icons of all time. Even people that have never even seen Basic Instinct know the iconic leg-crossing scene! One thing that helps raise your sex appeal is appearing on Playboy, twice! Stone first appeared in 1990, and two years later, had landed the role in Basic Instinct. She re-appeared in the 1992 Christmas issue. When asked why she originally went out for Playboy, Stone stated it was an attempt to overhaul her public image. “Everybody said I wasn’t sexy and I couldn’t get jobs because of it,” she explained. Something tells me she didn’t have that problem for very much longer!
9. Tanya Roberts
Any time you are going to be able to get a Bond girl in a Playboy issue, it’s going to be a cool thing. Not to mention that THERE IS A TIGER IN THE PHOTO. I mean, it’s not real, but I still thought that was pretty awesome. What is also awesome, is that Tanya is incredibly recognizable for her role of Midge on That 70s Show. Tanya appeared on the cover in 1982 to help promote the upcoming Bond film, A View To Kill. While Tanya got panned by critics for her portrayal of Stacey Sutton, there is no doubt that she is one killer view!
8. Shannon Tweed and her…Sister?
What is your favourite way to try and get closer with your siblings? One thing that probably doesn’t jump to your mind is wanting to go ahead and have a naked photo-session with them. Though, you also aren’t married to Gene Simmons! Shannon Tweed and her sister stripped down and posed for the magazine in 1991. Shannon herself was absolutely no stranger to the magazine, winning Playmate of the Year in 1982, as well as living in the Mansion for 14 months with Hugh.
While Vanna may have been worried about her career, number 2 of our photo leak may not have been so worried. After all, let’s be honest, Madonna is no stranger to showing off her body. Madonna may be one of the most successful artists of all time, but in 1979 she was still struggling and looking for some quick cash so she agreed to pose naked for a photographer. She may have thought nothing of it, at least until her career continued to grow and in 1985, the photos were bought and published in Playboy as well as Penthouse.
Madonna, appeared on the cover of Playboy for that issue, and in 2015 Playboy released more of the original 1979 images.
6. Shannon Elizabeth
Shannon Elizabeth is one of the more recognizable faces on this list, especially when you consider you probably recognize her without her clothes on! There is no doubt that one of the most iconic nude scenes in the history of film comes from American Pie and is made famous by none other then Shannon Elizabeth. So you can imagine when Playboy came knocking that same year, that it was an offer she wasn’t about to turn down! Shannon has had several great films including Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and Thirteen Ghosts.
5. Karina Smirnoff
Karina has the distinction of being the only person on this list that is a dancer! She has appeared on several seasons of Dancing With The Stars, including winning the 13th season. On top of this, she is a five-time U.S. National Champion. Oh and she just happens to have posed in Playboy! While you can imagine this is not exactly a ‘family-friendly’ move and may have hurt her image as a reality star on ABC, Karina informed the studio ahead of time and avoided having any ramifications. Her issue was released in May, 2011.
4. Robin Givens
Robin Givens may not be a name that jumps out to you, but she was once described as the most hated woman in America. Givens was married to Mike Tyson, who at the time of their marriage (1988), was one of the biggest athletes in the world and was seen as a hero to a large majority of the African American community. Despite their marriage ending for completely valid reasons (such as spousal abuse), it did not stop the backlash that she received. Givens, to her credit, is an actress who had appeared on The Cosby Show and Diff’rent Strokes, among others.
3. Charlize Theron
Charlize Theron is an acclaimed actress, winning an Academy Award for her incredible visual transformation in the movie Monster. She is also a super badass on screen, portraying Furiosa in the 2015 hit Mad Max: Fury Road. Yet, as you have probably guessed by now, one thing she wishes she was not is a cover-girl for Playboy. Theron appeared on the May 1999 issue of the magazine, but the photos were taken of her years earlier when she was still an unknown model. Theron attempted to sue the publication for publishing the photos, but was not successful in her attempts.
2. Kelly Brook
There is no doubt that Playboy is one of the most recognized brands in the entire world. So when model/actress Kelly Brook, who was nicknamed as “UK’s hottest export”, got offered $500,000 to pose for the magazine, you can imagine she jumped all over the opportunity! The issue came out in September, 2010, but sadly has not seemed to jumpstart Brook’s career; at least not in an acting sense, as her most recent project One Big Happy failed to last more than one season.
1. Kim Kardashian
At this point I honestly think there may be more adults that have seen Kim naked than not-naked. Posing for Playboy definitely didn’t hurt that! Though one thing that may be intriguing to you, is that there are many more photos of Kim unreleased by Playboy that was also taken at the time of the original shoot! It’s almost like a weird ‘deleted scene’ from a movie! Kim’s issue was definitely going to be big, and as a result Playboy took out an extra 20 pages of advertisements for the issue. While most of Kim’s nudity seems to come on social media now, at the very least there are photos from back when she got all dolled up for Hugh!