Barbi Benton Wiki

She retired from show business to raise her family, however, Barbi Benton has left an indelible mark both on television and on the country music scene. Barbi rose to prominence as one of the most beautiful Playboy models, but besides her stunning beauty, she didn’t lack acting and singing talent. In 1976, she was nominated for the Academy of Country Music Award for Most Promising Female Vocalist, while she’s probably still known best as the four-season regular in the variety television show “Hee Haw”.

More about her journey from Playboy model to successful singer and actress you’ll find out by reading this paper. So, keep on scrolling.

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Early life, family, and education

Born Barbara Lynn Klein under the zodiac sign of Aquarius on 28 January 1950, she’s today aged 73. Although born in New York City USA, she was raised in Sacramento, California, since her father, a gynecologist worked there after her birth. Her mother was an investment counselor – Barbi hasn’t shared their names, and also hasn’t spoken about any siblings, thus it’s believed that she’s an only child. Barbie holds American nationality, and comes from a Jewish family.

As a teenager, Barbi had many interests from playing piano to scuba diving. She attended Rio Americano High School, and upon matriculating in 1968, enrolled at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) to study veterinary, however, she soon realized that she has an aversion to the sight of blood, so didn’t graduate, but pursued her modeling career.

From Playboy model to singer

Barbi had begun modeling aged 16, and was known as the ‘tea-room model’. While attending UCLA, Barbi took a job with Playboy, and aged 18 debuted in the show “Playboy After Dark”. Barbi started as an extra, however, the host and the founder of Playboy, Hugh Hefner, fell in love with her, and Barbi was soon promoted to co-host.

Barbie began dating Hugh who was 24 years older than her, however, it seems that the age gap wasn’t an obstacle to their romance, as they dated for several years and lived together – Barbie is credited with persuading Hugh to buy the famous Playboy Mansion. Between 1969 and 1976, Barbi had been placed at the center of the Playboy enterprise. Hugh was the one who told her to change her name from Barbara to the more ‘marketable’ Barbi.

Barbi appeared four times on the cover of Playboy magazine, in 1969, ’70, ’72 and ’85, and in additional nude photo layouts in 1973 and ’75, although she was never a Playmate of the Month.

In 1975, Barbi released her debut single “Brass Buckless”, which was a top-five hit on Billboard’s country singles chart. She also composed and wrote her songs, and her debut album “Barbi Doll” was released in 1975 for the Playboy record label. Barbi released five albums -“Barbi Benton” (1975), “Something New” (1976), and “Ain’t That Just the Way” (1978), were released by Playboy, while the fifth one “Kinetic Voyage” was released by Takoma record label.

Acting career

Barbi made her acting debut playing the lead role as Lynn Keefe in the 1970 movie “Mir hat es immer Spaß gemacht”, a German comedy directed by Will Temper, in the USA entitled “The Naughty Cheerleader” – Barbi had her first nude scene in this movie.

Two years later, she made her first TV series appearance as Liz in an episode of the series “Marcus Welby, M. D.” Barbi followed with her role as Miss Iowa in the 1973 TV movie “The Great American Beauty Contest”, a drama which was well-rated by the audience.

Later that year, Barbi was seen as Melanie in another movie made for television, “The Third Girl from the Left”, also starring Kim Novak and Michael Brandon, which followed the story of a girl who suddenly realizes that her long-running affair with an older man has no future, so she begins to notice a much younger, handsome delivery boy. Although the movie had no nominations, the audience rated it as ‘thoughtful and compelling’.

In the following years, Barbie guest starred in “McCloud” (1975) and “The Bobby Vinton Show” (1975) before she was cast to play Maxx Douglas in the series “Sugar Time”. The show followed the story of the female rock trio, Sugar, and aired for one season during 1977 and 1978. Barbi made an appearance in all 13 episodes, starring opposite Didi Carr and Marianne Black.

Between 1978 and 1982, Barbi was seen in 10 episodes of the series “Fantasy Island”, playing various characters. She also played various characters in the series “The Love Boat” (1978-1987), making her last TV appearance as Brigitte LeBlanc in the episode aired in 1987.

Concurrently, she was seen in the series’ “Flying High” (1979) and “When the Whistle Blows” (1980), followed by her role as Anita in the 1980 TV movie “For the Love of It”, before she returned to the big screen as Susan Jeremy in the horror thriller “X-Ray” in 1981, performing the lead female part opposite Charles Lucia and Jon Van Nees in this drama of Susan, who is stuck at the hospital after a regular check-up by a maniac dressed as a doctor who kills any staff member who comes into contact with her. Fun fact: The movie was filmed at night in an actual abandoned hospital.

The early ‘80s saw Barbi in the movie “Deathstalker” (1983), and she guest starred in “The New Mike Hammer” (1984), “Murder, She Wrote” (1986), and “Riptide” also in 1986.

Love life and relationships

As mentioned, Barbi was in a long-term relationship with Hugh Hefner, and after separating, they stayed close friends until he died in 2017.

In the late ‘70s, Barbi met her future husband, George Gradow, a real estate developer. The two married on 14 October 1979, and their first child, a son named Alexander, was born on 23 August 1986, and daughter Ariana on 13 July 1988.

As of June 2023, Barbi and George are still together, and divide their time between homes in Los Angeles and Aspen, Pitkin County, Colorado.

How rich is Barbi Benton?

After she retired from show business, and when her children grew up, Barbi worked as an interior decorator. Thanks to her career as a Playboy model, singer and actress, she has amassed a sizeable fortune. According to sources, as of June 2023, her net worth has been estimated at over $20 million, while her husband has a net worth estimated at over $50 million.

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