Oscar History

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Top Ten: Actress Centerfolds

Given the recent cancellation of The Playboy Club which we mourned mainly because Laura Benanti deserves to be famous.... Given James Franco's Flaunting and pants-dropping... Given the waves the oft-naked Shame has been causing at festivals ... Given disgraced actress Lindsay Lohan's newly announced decision to pose for "Playboy" for a million bucks (only a million? I hope she realizes she used to make more than that for acting) today feels like the unofficial Mandatory Day of Nude Celebrity Appreciation. [Disclaimer: I type this fully clothed.]

So let's celebrate the movie actresses who have gone before Lindsay!

Oh sure, sure. The common wisdom is that this is La Lohan's new rock bottom and we shouldn't be celebrating but -- please -- actresses take off their clothes all the time for totally worthwhile purposes (Acting!) and the only thing that's shameful about the human body is that we're ashamed of it. Plus, it's worth noting that actresses have won Oscars AFTER doing this so this isn't rock bottom so much as a lame opportunity to have just said "Lindsay Lohan" and "Oscars" in the same sentence!

If anything this might be her first smart move in years. But only time and Lindsay herself will be able to confirm that.


I thought I'd kick off with this perverse double bill, and I have a reason. Marilyn Monroe was on the first cover of Playboy in 1953 the year of her definitive ascent (Niagara, How To Marry A Millionaire) but she didn't actually pose for the magazine. The famous nude was shot years prior to her stardom, in 1949 to be exact. Sandra, one of Hollywood's most consistent provocateurs, posed purposefully for reasons of her own 40 years later. We won't deign to speak for her as to why but it did carry a certain exegetic charge as an imagined passive/aggressive (aggressive/aggresive?) response to ex-friend Madonna's "Sex" book which also debuted that year. All of which is to say these are the two poles between which the general truth of nude photospreads lies: first what Playboy imagined itself to be with women as commodity specifically for male pleasure (again, Marilyn wasn't actually involved) and second what Playboy pictorials often become with women as entrepeneurs of their own career/bodies and the pleasure of men of secondary, tertiary, or even no concern at all.

Not to get all fancy about T&A. 

NSFW Beauties after the jump: Julie, Charlize, Drew, Kim and more...


click the photo for this whole photo shoot


CAREER BEFORE THIS SHOOT: incrementally increasing high profile as "rising star" and three co-starring roles the year of this pictorial (The Cider House Rules, The Yards, The Astronaut's Wife)
AFTER:  A list stardom, endorsement millions, and an Oscar for Best Actress (Monster).

Love that the famously blonde blonde put on a brunette wig for this. 

CAREER BEFORE THIS SHOOT: Her major 80s stardom (Splash, Roxanne, Steel Magnolias) was already fading. The cable film remake Attack of the 50 Ft Woman was the same year as this.
AFTER: More roughgoing on the silver screen throughout the nineties but her tireless environmental activism is truly admirable (and plain old bad-ass) and her still underappreciated talent got a well deserved spotlight in the Aughts with a series of strong character-acting pieces peaking with her absolutely brilliant work as Elle Driver in the Kill Bill films.   

#06 STAR 80 (1983)
I'm cheating here because I accidentally only wrote up nine women. (Sometimes I am bad at counting.)

But if you haven't seen this biographical film about Playboy Playmate Dorothy Van Stratten (post Oscar nomination Mariel Hemingway) directed by the genius Bob Fosse, you should. Eric Roberts stars at his sleaziest/sexiest (same difference in his case) and won a Golden Globe Nomination for Best Actor. There are many things you could say about this movie but the most important is to merely reiterate that it's part of Bob Fosse's very short but gobsmackingly potent filmography and one should see all of his work in one's lifetime.

Now back to the naked ladies...

'I always thought she was so statuesque' 

click on photo for more of this photoshoot

CAREER BEFORE: Dancing actress of the 50s (Seven Brides For Seven Brothers) and best known today as the purrrrfect original "Catwoman" in the 1966 & 1967 (... no, Pfeiffer did not invent the role. She just reinvented it and continues to own it is all) which was her big gig right before this pictorial.
AFTER: Mostly just TV guest spots. But she did have a whole movie named after her in the 90s and not many centerfolds can claim that. Thanks for everything, Julie Newmar.

Ludivine's pictorial was actually far more clothed than many but when you have as much natural smolder as Sagnier, a little goes a long way. [An earlier example: Uma Thurman giving Henry & June its NC-17 rating without actually taking her clothes off]. Also highly recommended should you be building up your own legend: smear your name all over everything; rap stars have known this forever.

for more of this shoot click the photo

CAREER BEFORE THIS SHOOT: Her big breakthrough came in 2002-2003 with three international hits: 8 Women, Peter Pan and Swimming Pool (in which she was famously nude and lusted after) 
AFTER: Still in demand and interviewed right here at The Film Experience.

#03 GRACE JONES 1985
There was nothing that wasn't awesome about Grace Jones in the 80s -- except the fact that she didn't do the theme song to her James Bond movie (A View To A Kill) -- including her decision to have Dolph Lundgren do the photos with her. Was there a more striking visual couple in the 80s? No.

CAREER: There is no before and after, it was just another performance piece in a continuum of provocations 

She wrote the book on how you use this sort of publicity to supersize your career.

CAREER BEFORE: After playing a centerfold model on TV in the late 70s she graduated to movies and became a Bond girl in 1983 (Never Say Never Again) and this covergirl gig led to...
AFTER THIS SHOOT:  A list stardom and major leading roles immediately thereafter (1984-1989). Eventually of course she won the Oscar (97) and she's still working regularly.

Steven Spielberg famously sent her a quilt and a "cover yourself up" note when this photoshoot arrived but the greatest thing about mid-90s Drew is how celebratory she was about life. It shows in her movies and in the photos.

BEFORE: Child Star (E.T., Firestarter), Troubled Teen Star, Recovering Addict, On the Comeback Trail...
AFTER: Successful Producer, Beloved Actress, Fledgling Director, Golden Globe Win, Emmy nominations, and now no longer anybody's idea of a weak link in the long line of this famous acting family.

Drew should be a shining beacon to any troubled young Hollywood stars -- including Lindsay Lohan -- that you can overcome troubled pasts, addiction, volatile family and relationship issues, and become not just a success but a joyous person. You can even do all that while still keeping your wild child cred' if you're the kind of person who needs that.

Who doesn't love Drew?!

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Reader Comments (18)

Juliette Binoche is another actress that appeared on the Playboy cover. She posed for the french Playboy in 2007.

October 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterVictor S

Something for the straights!

October 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDean

in case anyone else is reading the article....drew won a golden globe, not an emmy

October 25, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterpar3182

par--- what do you mean in case anybody is reading. Don't people read playboy for the articles ;) ?

I have fixed it.

dean -- and for the lesbians. And for the gay men who appreciate the female form, like myself. ;)

October 26, 2011 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Lohan isn't fit to waste Drew's dirty clothes.

There was nothing that wasn't awesome about Grace Jones in the 80s -- except the fact that she didn't do the theme song to her James Bond movie (A View To A Kill)

That Duran Duran song is the greatest. You will kiss its pinky ring.

October 26, 2011 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

I still haven't recovered from seeing Lohan as nude Marilyn Monroe in New York Magazine three years ago... truly frightening stuff.

October 26, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterjoy

// "and for the lesbians."//

@Nat - you beat me to it (your reply to Dean, not your sexuality...of course.) My only memory of Cider House Rules was how stunningly perfect Charlize's nude body (backside) was. (Yes, it's true - lesbians like to look, too.)

I wasn't aware of how many (though I am sure there are more?) actresses posed nude for Playboy and have done just fine - the thought is that it's a sort of backslide. (Probably because the great successes are more the exception than the rule? You did have trouble coming up with ten.)

I wish you had included one of Bernhardt's photos from the spread (I assume you couldn't find one) just for inclusiveness; I think you are right about her being a businesswoman "owning" her body, image, etc and not doing it to turn anyone on. I assume she's bucking the insistence in our culture - or rather our media - that there's only one very narrow standard of "beauty", and only people who fit that mold can also be considered "sexy". However untrue we know that to be in real life.

Grace Jones is just total awesomeness, now and forever.

Interesting to me is that La Kidman was regularly given flack for appearing nude in her films in the '90's (part of the "she's not a serious actress!" accusation), and being perfectly open and joyously willing to do so "if the script required", but she never appeared nude in Playboy.

October 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJanice

Consider this: The Hollywood Awards were this week--Lindsay was there five years ago to pick up an award, not even present. She was being honored.

October 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBia

hmm both actresses who won best actress post playboy shoot won for playing prostitutes..hmmm haha

October 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSimon

/3rtfull -- i likke the duran duran song it's true. But i don't get why the Bond Girls themselves never get the theme songs ;)

Janice -- no, i couldn't find one from sandra's shoot.

October 26, 2011 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Wow, those Grace Jones photos are incredible. Makes me question my sexuality, almost.

October 26, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterramification

Ugh, Lindsay. :( Such a waste of talent. The things I could say to her. >:(

LOVE DREW! Still hoping one day she'll be an Oscar nominee.

October 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip

Uh... can you please not compare Lindsay to Drew. Through all of Drew's addictions she never came across as a self centered fame whore. Comparing Lindsay to Drew is like comparing Charlie Sheen to Robert Downey Jr. One has talent and most importantly humbleness, the other does not.

October 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJayJ


October 26, 2011 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtfull

There is no place for Lohan to go except trash ... and I like Playboy..

October 26, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterrick

JayJ -- i am in full agreement that Lohan is a self centered fame whore. I am not in fulll agreement taht she is talentless. The great tragedy of La Lohan is that she had buckets of it and threw it all away. what a shame.

October 26, 2011 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Well I've only seen 3 of her films and they were all when she was a girl & teen, and while she was enjoyable in those, being a good child actor does not necessarily translate into being a great adult actor. And while I've only seen the trailers of her adult films, her acting came off as mediocre at best. So anytime I hear people talk about all of her wanted talent I wonder if they are referring to her actual talent or potential. She just always (even in her Mean Girls days) seemed liked she cared more about the fame than the work, and like too many actors the work was just a route for her to get the fame. I actually think Lindsay doesn't mind where her life is now because she still has the fame and is making money.

October 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJayJ

DREEEEEEW!!! She and Newmar both have the equal sense of fun, sexy, and candidness that some other spreads lack. Drew is just the best.

October 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterWalter L. Hollmann
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