Monday, December 17, 2012

Centrefold Venus of the Month 40: Angela Dorian/Victoria Vetri, September 1967

September's centrefold girl is the beautiful Angela Dorian who appeared in Playboy's September 1967 issue.  I don't know what it is about girls in hammocks which is so appealing; there always seems to be the promise of illicit sex about them, although Triple P tried it once in Italy and it was far from satisfactory.  Perhaps it is something to do with the movement.  Anyway, Angela, photographed by Curt Gunther, looks completely irresistible in hers, although you would be hard pushed to get anyone else in there with her.

Look how splendidly uncluttered Playboy covers were in those days compared with the eye-numbing dogs' breakfasts of type that assail the reader these days.

Angela's first pictorial photograph is this fine portrait which shows what a very pretty face she had.  What do you mean you didn't notice her face?

Rather more than the usual girl next door by the time she posed for Playboy she had been acting for 5 years, having done a lot of TV.  In fact she had appeared in 26 shows up to that point including Wagon Train, Bonanza, The Man from U.N.C.L.E, Perry Mason and Hogan's Heroes.

Angela in Hogan's Heroes (1967)

Agent Triple P remembers watching World War 2 prison camp comedy Hogan's Heroes when he was small.  From the look of this shot of Angela, in The Crittendon Plan episode, the costume department weren't worrying about nineteen forties period accuracy that much.  She looks completely sixties!  This episode was actually first broadcast in September 1967; when this issue of Playboy was on the newsstands.

Angela in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. in 1966 with David McCallum as Ilya Kuryakin

With Robert Vaughan

Rather earlier than this was her appearance in post-Bond spy drama The Man from U.N.C.L.E. where she appeared in the episode called The Indian Affairs Affair playing a native American called Charisma Highcloud.

Her Indian costume did not look that authentic either but that was because she was playing  a dancer in a club.  Because of her dark, exotic looks she was often cast in ethnic roles.  Her father was a Sicilian and her mother was from Rome; both first generation immigrants.

Her first real cinematic role was as a Mayan girl in the Yul Brynner epic Kings of the Sun in 1963.  Here she is (right) with English actress Shirley Anne Field.  In this production she appeared under her real name of Victoria Vetri (credited Vettri in the film).  Angela Dorian was a stage  name chosen by her agent before her Playboy appearance, based on the name of  the Italian liner the Andrea Doria which sank a dozen years before.

Unlike many Playmates who went on to be actresses solely on the strength of their figures (see most Andy Sidaris films) Dorian could actually act and had a gift for light comedy.  Here she is with her Hollywood agents Arthur Kennard and Merrit Blake discussing a script.

One thing a girl in the sixties needed was very big lashes and here Angela lays it on like tarmacadam.

Playboy claimed that not only was she an actress but a jazz and ballet dancer, a singer, songwriter and guitarist and a graphic designer too.  What a busy girl.  No doubt she is arranging some assignment in her multi-faceted career here.

In fact, her career may have taken a more high profile path if she hadn't turned down the role of Lolita in 1962 which shot Sue Lyon to stardom.  She also just missed out on the role of Maria in the film of West Side Story (1961) and although she was offered the job of dubbing Natalie Wood's singing voice she turned that down too.

Angela was a keen car enthusiast, it seems, and even at the time of her Playboy pictorial owned a Porsche and an Austin-Healey Sprite.  So it seemed natural for Playboy to take her down to the Los Angeles Times car races at Riverside.

Here, in the background is World Champion Formula 1 driver Graham Hill, the only person to win the motor racing Triple Crown: the Le Mans 24 Hours, the Indianapolis 500 and the Monaco Grand Prix.  In 1929 Hungarian author Frigyes Karinthy proposed the concept of Six Degrees of Separation whereby everyone on earth can be connected to everyone else in just six steps.  So here is Angela with Graham Hill who was a friend of Agent Triple P's uncle!

Angela attracts the admiring glances of another spectator

Here is Angela with a lucky friend strolling down Olvera Street in Los Angeles' "Little Mexico".  Agent Triple P has been  here, which is the oldest part of the city, very close to the architecturally splendid Union Station.

Angela shows off her dancing skills at the Cheetah club.  This was a new club in town, having opened in February 1967 at the Pacific Ocean Park Amusement Pier in Venice.  This is somewhere else Agent Triple P used to go with his local lady friend M when he used to travel to Santa Monica regularly, four to six years ago.  M was one of the few women who managed to get Triple P to dance!  Not at the Cheetah, though, as it closed some time between June 1968 and March 1969.

So does the lucky chap get to take Angela home?  We'll never know!  That was the last photo in Angela's September 1967 pictorial but never fear we have many more photos of her!

 Rod Taylor threatens to shoot Helena Chavez (Dorian) to stop her falling into the hands of the Indians

Publicity shots from Chuka (1967)

A couple of months after her Playboy pictorial came out Angela appeared in the Rod Taylor Western, Chuka.  The film performed disappointingly at the box office.  Angela played a Mexican girl.

We next saw Angela in Playboy in January 1968 when hers was one of the three previous years centrefolds featured on the cover.

Inside, Angela's Playmate Review picture was a marvel, with her twisting her extraordinary 5' 5" 36-21-35 body into a shape that displays both her breasts and bottom to superb effect.

Here are three more from the same set-up.  She really does have a tiny waist!

One more of her looking completely tigerlicious.


Talking of cats Angela appeared as the human form of a cat, Isis, in the 1968 Star Trek episode Assignment Earth.  Here she is with Teri Garr (left) later to star in another science fiction classic, Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977).

Talking of Star Trek, here she is with Leonard Nimoy in his post-Spock role on Mission Impossible.  Angela appeared in the 1970 episode Squeeze Play.

Angela in Batman

The month after her Playmate Review issue she appeared as Florence of Arabia (good grief!) in the Batman episode I'll be a Mummy's Uncle with the marvelous Victor Buono.

Let's go back to some more pictures from her Playmate of the Month shoot.  Here are a few more of her in the hammock which featured in her centrefold.  Whilst posing for these pictures the hammock gave way and Angela suffered two broken ribs.  You have to suffer for Art!

In this one we get a rare glimpse of Angela's fluff.  If it had been used in the magazine it would have been cropped, of course.  Pubic Playmates were still more than two years into the future.

More suspended furniture in this one as Angela pulls her body into another lovely shape.  

Here is another portrait from the session that produced the full length shot with the green cushions in her Playmate pictorial.

Next we have a number of her inside a house with large picture windows, which help give a natural light look to these indoor shots.  Angela appeared in the 1969 Playboy Playmate calendar as Miss June, using one of these shots.

Angela was  already a mother at the time these pictures were taken, not that you could guess from her shape.  Her son was born in 1964.  She was also on her second (out of an eventual four) husband.

Here she is looking all sultry on a rug.  This is one of our favourites, probably because of the hint of a knowing smile.

More random sixties furniture.

Playboy did like its girls to wear undone trousers in this period.

In these swimming pool ones she is just flashing her fur as well.

Angela reappeared on the cover of Playboy for the May 1968 issue as she had been chosen as Playmate of the Year.

Her pictorial opened with her perched on one of her prizes: a Playmate Pink AMX car.  This was a welcome prize as her car had just been stolen.  Other prizes included hi-fi, records, a bike, a scooter, lingerie, swimwear, a typewriter, art materials, Paul Masson pink (of course) sparkling wine and kitchen equipment.

Her second Playmate of the Year photo had her in this enticingly cut-out mini-dress.  One of her most appealing photos ever!

Her second outfit in the pictorial, we have to say, is not anything like as successful.  In fact it is truly horrendous and looks like it was knocked up from a particularly repulsive set of curtains.

In most of these pictures she is showing off a new hairstyle; shorter and having lost the fringe she had in her original Playmate of the Month feature.

Lying in the grass and displaying some remarkably perky nipples.

These two pictures, although part of the Playmate of the Year pictorial, were obviously taken when the Playmate of the Month shoot took place.

The final photograph is, again, from her earlier shoot.  Both were by Curt Gunther.

Here are some more which are similar to the Playmate of the Year shots.  This one of the dreadful curtain material outfit is slightly more effective because of Angela's lovely naked back.

Its not easy to carry off orange especially with a paisley pattern on it but she does it.  The smile in the top one helps a lot.

Victoria Cecilia Vetri was born on September 26th 1944 in San Francisco.  Both her parents were born in Italy.  Her father, a Sicilian restaurateur, was in trouble with the law, it seems, in the nineteen fifties and was convicted of running a prostitution ring in Los Angeles.  Over the years she became completely estranged from her family, even her son.

Despite being born in San Francisco Victoria was brought up in Los Angeles and studied art at Los Angeles City College in East Hollywood which has a starry list of alumni including, coincidentally, Gene Roddenberry, creator of Star Trek (as well as regular Star Trek composer Jerry Goldsmith).

Despite a similar picture appearing in her Playmate of the Year pictorial these look to be from her earlier shoot as she still has her fringe.  The bottom one is another rare, fluff flashing one.  It's amazing to think that someone actually had their wall painted like this in the sixties!

Finally, we have this sensuously enticing shot of Victoria on a bed also showing the then taboo pubic hair.

Mia Farrow (left) and Angela (right) in Rosemary's Baby

The month after her Playmate of the Year Playboy came out Roman Polanski's film Rosemary's Baby (1968) was released.  Angela appears in a scene with Mia Farrow at the beginning of the film.  Farrow had a line "You look like that Italian actress..." but Polanski hadn't got a suitable name to use.  Angela suggested "Victoria Vetri", explaining that it was her real name.  This was, therefore, used in the filmed scene.  It has created complete confusion ever since as to what was her real name and what was her stage name.

James Carreras with Victoria and director Val Guest on the set of When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth

Victoria (she reverted to her real name and largely dropped Angela Dorian) next turned up in London at a press conference in the Dorchester in October 1968.  She had been chosen by Hammer Films founder James Carreras to star in their latest dinosaur epic When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth, which is still Victoria's crowning achievement.  Hammer always kept an eye on potential starlets appearing in Playboy.  Before this they had used Playboy cover (March 1964) girl Olinka Berova in The Vengeance of She (1968), Miss August 1966 Susan Denberg in Frankenstein Created Woman (1967) and would go on to cast twin Playmates Mary and Madeleine Collinson in Twins of Evil (1971).

Within days Victoria was off to the Canary Islands to shoot the location footage for the film.  The part called for a blonde but Victoria refused to dye her hair so a blonde wig had to be used instead.  Hammer had been surprised by the success of One Million Years BC and hoped to create another star of the magnitude of Raquel Welch, who was now too expensive for them to afford, with Victoria.  Here we see her being made up for a publicity bikini shot on location, together with the finished product.

Here are some more publicity photos from the set of When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth.  The mark she has on her forehead was featured in one of the scenes in the film.

Shooting carried on until January, back at Elstree studios in Britain, but the film wasn't released until October 1970 due to the time it took visual effects director Jim Danforth to produce the dinosaurs and scenic shots.  Even though the film was nearly a year away Playboy covered it in their Sex Stars piece in the December 1969 issue.  They featured this wonderful shot of Victoria in all her topless prehistoric glory whilst revealing that she had just signed seven year contract with Paramount.

The publicity team at Hammer worked with Playboy to produce enticing shots of Victoria which, unfortunately, weren't in the finished film.  So we have her being menaced by a giant crab (in an incredibly phallic shot) and being chased, naked, by a dinosaur.  A cropped version of the latter appeared in Playboy's November 1971 Sex in Cinema review.

When the film was eventually released in Britain it had an 'A' certificate.  In 1970 this meant that anyone over the age of five could be admitted although parents were advised that it was not suitable for those under the age of fourteen.  This was despite quite extensive nudity, including a tastefully naked love scene for Victoria and co-star Robin Hawdon.

When the film was released in the US four minutes of nudity was cut out and to this day has not been restored on US DVDs (except once, by accident, before it was withdrawn - but not before Agent Triple P got hold of a copy!).

We intend to cover Victoria's work in When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth in considerably more detail in one of our other blogs Cavegirls in Fur Bikinis in the not too distant future.  In the meantime here is the definitive publicity still of Victoria from the film.

Nice baubles!

Readers of Playboy's December 1968 issue were presented with this new festive shot of Angela for a subscription advertisement.

A year after Victoria filmed When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth Apollo 12 landed on the Moon.  When astronaut Pet Conrad started his first moonwalk he worked through the checklist booklet attached to his space suit sleeve.  Suddenly, he found this picture of Angela.

Pete Conrad's illustrated checklist

The ground crew had added two Playmates each to Conrad and fellow Moon walker Al Bean's checklists.    When they spotted them they stopped their moonwalk activities to compare Playmates!  The caption under Angela's read "seen any interesting hills and valleys".  For the record the other Playmates were (Conrad) October 1967 Reagan Wilson and (Bean) January 1969 Leslie Bianchini and December 1969 Cynthia Myers.

In 1968 Playboy produced some jigsaw puzzles of Playboy centrefolds.  Angela's was one of those chosen to be sold in the tin can packaging. Triple P would love to own one of these but, sadly, the only one he's got is the later Collinson Twins one.

Victoria reappeared in Playboy's June 1971 issue which looked at all the previous Playmates of the Year.  The feature included  a previously unseen shot of her on the tiger skin from her original shoot.

In December Playboy used another still of Victoria from When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth in their Sex Stars feature. It appeared on a page which also included a photo of the Collinson twins who were starring in the later Hammer vehicle Twins of Evil (1971)

There was a small still of Victoria and the cast in Playboy's Sex in Cinema feature in November 1972 trailing her 1973 released film Group Marriage.  A sex comedy where Victoria plays a former stewardess.

More topless work followed in the SF B movie Invasion of the Bee Girls (1973).  But these would be Victoria's last films and she would only do one more piece of TV work in 1975.

Here is Victoria on the cover of Adam magazine's May 1973 issue.  She did do more nude modelling work but we have been unable to find it, sadly.

A couple more pictures of Victoria appeared in Playboy in the second half of the seventies in various Playmate review features.  This one, from June 1979 hadn't been seen before.

In 1984, however, she posed again for Playboy, at the age of 39 for their Playmates Forever pictorial.  She still looked very good indeed.

On the cover of Knight magazine in the sixties

A 1985 article about her said that she was working as a waitress at a restaurant called The Moustache Cafe in Hollywood.  It said that she had been attacked in her home in 1980 and stabbed with a screwdriver.  She was left with two broken ribs and a broken nose after the attack.  She was, at the time the article was written, trying to get back into films.

It was about this time that she started living with Bruce Rathgeb, who may or may not have been her husband for the next 25 years.  Certainly she adopted his last name.  Latterly the couple had been heavy alcohol and drugs users and neighbours said that noisy arguments were common.  One of which resulted in Victoria sustaining a broken arm, it is said.  

On October 16 2010 Victoria shot Rathgeb in the back as he was leaving her apartment after another fight.  They had been living apart for several months and Victoria accused Rathgeb of having been unfaithful during that time, which he denied.  She used a Walther PPK which had been given her by Roman Polanski for her self-defence after the murder of his wife, Sharon Tate.  

She then lied to police when they arrived, saying that he had been shot by a drug dealer.  Rathgeb survived but has lost the use of some of his fingers and the bullet is still lodged in his body.  She was charged with attempted murder but her lawyer tried to get the charge reduced to assault with a deadly weapon.  The court turned this down and in the end she pleaded guilty to attempted voluntary manslaughter.  She was sentenced to nine years in prison in September 2011.

Vetri during her trial

Vetri is now 68 years old and still in prison where things can be particularly tough for celebrities  We don't know what sort of remission they get for good behaviour in US prisons but she is likely to be in jail for some years: a tragic fate for such a beauty.

We prefer to remember her in her magnificent prime and, as we mentioned, will feature her in Cavegirls in Fur Bikinis in the New Year.   

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