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“I believe that mink are raised for being turned into fur coats and if we didn’t wear fur coats those little animals would never have been born.” Unless you are a diehard fan of vintage Playboy magazines or the television series Hee Haw, you probably aren’t familiar with the name Barbi Benton.Then again, if you keep up with the wild world of Hugh Hefner, you just might recognize Benton as one of Hefner’s favorite playmates after the legendary playboy hired her as his cohost on Playboy After Dark.
Stunning with her doe-eyed stare and gorgeous mane, it only took two recording sessions before Hefner asked Benton out on a date.
But I have been married and have children and wasn’t, and am not, interested in doing it again.
Barbi hadn’t had that and wanted it.” Today, the 67-year-old Benton divides her time with Gradow between their homes in Aspen, Colorado and Los Angeles, California as their kids, Alexander and Ariana, start families of their own.
” Weeks later, she reconsidered and started planning their wedding for October 1979.
They’ve been married ever since with Hefner remaining a close friend even after all these years.
The offer astounded the 18-year-old Benton since Hefner was 42 years old at the time. I’ve never dated anyone over 24 before,” Benton told Hefner as he jokingly replied, “That’s all right, neither have I.” Despite the age difference and Benton’s trepidation over dating an older man, the duo proved to be an ideal match as Hefner took Benton under his wing and made her a central figure in the Playboy organization.
Along the way, he convinced her to change her name to Barbi Benton to ensure she had a bright future in the entertainment industry.
Once settled in the Golden State, she enjoyed a normal childhood and attended Rio Americano High School where the glitz and glamor of Hollywood finally called her name after she dabbled in everything from scuba diving and piano to dreams of becoming a veterinarian.
At 16 years old, she started modeling to make extra money and, after high school, enrolled at the University of California Los Angeles.
“I was shy and would make the photographer turn his back when I changed poses,” Benton admitted.
“By the second one, I just let it all hang out.” Although Benton was never named a Playmate of the Month, her close ties to Hefner opened the doors of opportunity as she landed acting roles in television and film.
Fortunately, her 1975 single “Brass Buckles” was a huge hit and climbed to the top five of Billboard’s country charts.