The availability of scantily clad celebrities on the Internet has certainly cooled the decades-long trend of Playboy being the first place many teenage boys got their initial taste of celebrity nudity, but nonetheless, for a wide swath of women dating back to Marilyn Monroe’s pictorial in the very first issue, Playboy was hopefully a quick jolt to a career whether you were on the way up or way down.
For those too young to remember, Hugh Hefner embodied the Playboy lifestyle, which appeared somewhat more fun and artistic than the visions of nudity found in other adult mags like Penthouse and Hustler. Somehow, this more “wholesome” image is what was sold to actresses, models and musicians who were all looking for a boost in their public awareness. Playboy has also featured athletes (Katarina Witt, Gabrielle Reece, Amanda Beard) who otherwise would never be seen nude and it introduced the world to a few women who would become household names like Pamela Anderson and Jenny McCarthy.
There are celebrities who undeniable got a boost from their Playboy appearance such as a pre-Basic Instinct Sharon Stone, but for every one of them, there are many more whose appearance did little to help their careers. It may have been the hope that their failing career could be reborn or that they could maintain the levels they were already at. It may have been to show the world a different side of them or simply for the money. Whatever their reasons, here is a list of women who didn’t get a bump in their career after baring it all in Playboy.
10 Shannen Doherty
First seen as a child on family TV shows like Little House on the Prairie and Our House, Doherty became a household name more for the off-screen accounts of her behavior on Beverly Hills 90210 where she played sweet Brenda Walsh. After being booted from the show, she first made a cameo in Playboy in March 1994 in a multi-celebrity pictorial, but was rewarded with the cover.
9 The American Pie Girls
Oh, how the geeks of the world would have loved Alyson Hannigan to be among the list, but the How I Met Your Mother actress kept her clothes on, despite what may have happened at band camp. Less than two months after the original movie about four guys on a quest to lose their virginity came out in theaters, Shannon Elizabeth, who played sexy foreign exchange student Nadia, took it all off for Playboy in their August 1999 issue.
8 Julie Brown
The late 1980s was a time when hormone-laden teenage boys would rush home to turn on Club MTV even if they didn’t like the pop tunes being played. It definitely amped up the sex factor from traditional dancers like American Bandstand and Soul Train, and nobody exemplified that more than its host, “Downtown” Julie Brown.
7 Heidi Montag
Many are probably wondering to themselves “who’s that”, but for a brief flicker of time around 2006, she was Kim Kardashian before Kim Kardashian was Kim Kardashian. Montag first rose to fame on the MTV’s first “is this real or fake?” show, Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County but exploded after truly cultivating her bitchy character on its spin-off The Hills. She fell in love with, and married celebrity media manipulator Spencer Pratt, who co-starred with her on both MTV shows.
6 Teri Polo
While she had played prominent roles in small 90s movies such as Aspen Extreme and Mystery Date and was in nearly a dozen TV movies, it wasn’t until the release of Meet the Parents in 2000 that the world started paying attention to the beautiful woman who played Ben Stiller’s fiance, Pam. Polo’s career didn’t explode immediately after with forgettable roles in even more forgettable movies and a few guest spots on TV shows such as Frasier.
5 80s Teeny Bopper Icons
4 Farrah Fawcett
Nobody was as white-hot both in terms of looks and public attention in the late 1970s as Farrah Fawcett. With a starring role in Charlie’s Angels in 1976 and married to Six Million Dollar Man lead Lee Majors -- not to mention being featured on the top-selling poster of all time -- you couldn’t turn on the TV without seeing Fawcett. Reinventing herself as a serious actress in the mid-1980s, Fawcett was nominated for several Emmys and Golden Globe awards.
3 Tia Carrere
2 Kristy Swanson
1 Lindsay Lohan
The idea behind appearing in Playboy for most actresses and musicians is to help jump-start their stalled careers, the way one uses cable to jump-start a car. You can’t jump-start a car that is beyond repair and any hope that Lindsay Lohan’s January 2012 Playboy pictorial (along with an appearance on Saturday Night Live around the same time) was going to resurrect her permanently scarred career was ridiculous; the damage was done.
Once the darling of teen films such as Freaky Friday, Mean Girls and Herbie: Fully Loaded, it is Lohan’s party girl lifestyle and legal fallout that kept in her headlines for years. It’s doubtful she’ll ever return to the heights her career once saw, no matter how many clothes she removes.
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