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The Killing of the Unicorn: Dorothy Stratten, 1960-1980 Hardcover – August, 1984

3.8 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 186 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow & Co; 1st edition (August 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0688016111
  • ISBN-13: 978-0688016111
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #826,312 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on November 20, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Ordinarily, an ineptly written biography is bad because: 1) the author whitewashes the subject's life and treats the subject as a saint, or 2) the author has a personal grudge and uses the book as fuel for his anger, which results in dubious "fact" reporting. In this case, we get the worst of both worlds. Bogdanovich has taken it upon himself to tell the "real" story of Dorothy Stratten--that is, his reality-impaired version of it. As a result, one half of the book consists of Peter rhapsodizing endlessly over Stratten's beauty ("an angel in the shape of Aphrodite"), her kindness, and in general, her sainthood. The poor girl is not even allowed one moment in which she is permitted to be a mere human being; the only traces of Dorothy in the book are found in her poems. However, this is mere trivia compared to the other half of the book, which consists of Bogdanovich's angry diatribe against Hefner, who exploited Stratten by peddling nude pictures of her, and somehow this caused her murder(?). Apparently Paul Snider, the small-time hustler who married Stratten, and later murdered her, is so small-time that he can't take the majority of the blame for his crime.
This is just one example of the muddled logic that encompasses Bogdanovich's retelling of the Stratten tragedy. A lot of the book falls into the "too much information" category, not to mention the "glass houses" category. For instance, why is it "exploitation" when Hefner publishes nude photos of the 21-year-old Cybill Shepherd from the movie that was DIRECTED BY PETER BOGDANOVICH, but Bogdanovich is an "artist"?
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By A Customer on June 8, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
It's really a shame that Dorothy's entire life was spent searching for a father figure: she found plenty of them--Hef, Peter, Paul. She never had a chance to find herself. I am sure Peter loved her, in the way he could possibly love a little girl, so perfect and beautiful and adoring, but not yet a woman. Peter Bogdanovich is narcissistic and egotistical. Dorothy didn't need another man to mold her and make her the perfect woman. She needed to get away from all of them and discover HERSELF. Who SHE was. Spend time with her family--the sister who had her taken away too soon and then marries her sister's lover. The tragedy the Stratten family has endured is palpable, but I believe Peter Bogdanovich had as much a part in her death as Paul did. He was the lover who enraged Paul. Not that there had to be one--Paul had made up his mind any number of scenarios that Dorothy had no control over--and that weren't true. But instead of letting her get on with her life, Peter instantly sweeps her up into a romance she wasn't ready for and it probably cost her her life. She was manipulated her whole adult life for the pleasure of men. I'm sorry she never knew, as I have now, an adult, healthy loving relationship. I think about the horror she went through that last night of her life, and wonder how these "men" can wash her blood off their hands.
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By A Customer on August 22, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I did enjoy this book even though I thought it was hypocritical and biased. The reason I read it was due to my interest in Dorothy Stratten from the Pulitzer prize winning "Village Voice" article about her life & death by Teresa Carpenter. I also remember way back when she was a rising star, the infatuation of my teenage brother with her (along with many other males). At the time, she was the biggest thing to ever hit Playboy. Not since Pamela Anderson Lee, has a Playboy Playmate stirred such promise for a successful career. However, I think this biography is somewhat hypocritical and another reviewer here points that out as well.
From these writings, Peter Bogdanovich accuses the Playboy sex machine and Hugh Hefner of being a driving force in her death. I disagree, I think she was just discovered by the wrong person in the form of her sleazy future husband and murderer, Paul Snider. I wish a reputable modeling agency would have discovered her instead, not only would she probably still be alive, but I think she had the star quality that would have made her a huge celebrity. All of this would have come without the stigma of having posed nude for men's magazines; Bogdanovich points out that this leaves a blemish on you even after death. It is no wonder that even though she's been dead for nearly two decades, Playboy and others are still peddling her naked pictures. I appreciate that Bogdanovich did not publish any of these photos of her or Paul Snider out of simple respect. The photos of her that do reside in this book are when she has a most natural and angelic appearance, without the tons of makeup and hair bleach regulary used by Playboy. The cover photo is exemplary of this.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is a truly laughable biography of a poor girl who was used by all the men in her life: her husband, Hugh Hefner and Peter Bogdanovich.

Peter Bogdanovich was a struggling Hollywood "player" when he met Stratten. His career was nosediving, but he was still considered a director who could potentially come up with a money-making movie project. He was a regular at the Playboy mansion and Hugh Hefner was a good buddy of his. Bogdonovich's taste in women ran toward the puerile; blonde ingenues were his weakness. He dumped his first wife Polly Platt, who played a major part in his most successful films, for the vapid Cybill Shepherd. He made several amazingly bad movies starring Shepherd before she dumped him for a used car salesman (I'm not kidding). At loose ends, he sought respite at the Playboy mansion, partying and having sex with the endless supply of women that congregated there in hopes of snagging a rich, famous man as a boyfriend or husband or stepping stone to "stardom."

What is truly infuriating about this book is how Bodanovich portrays himself and his brief affair with Stratten. He sees himself as the rescuer of this poor damsel who is coerced into posing nude by her sleazy husband and pushed into having sex with a man she considered a father figure (Hefner). Actually Statten publicly stated that she had no problem with posing for naked photos and was very fond of Hefner. He goes on about how awful Paul Snider and Hugh Hefner are, but he is cut out of the same nasty piece of cloth.
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