Photographed by William Graham, assisted by his wife. (Like the Gowlands, they were an artistic nude partnership. Very cool people, all of them.)
A girl can’t hold down a position as a legal secretary with a pleasing appearance and a head full of feathers, so our December Playmate Ellen Stratton is further proof, if proof be needed, that a girl can be bright and beautiful at the same time. Ellen has worked for a leading West Coast law office for the past 2 1/2 years, and confides that her secret ambition is to be a lady lawyer. (“Legal Tender,” Playboy, December 1959.)
A “lady lawyer?!” What will they think of next?
Actually and admirably, Ellen raised herself up from very hardscrabble roots and no early formal education whatsoever to become a legal secretary in a time when women were mainly fucking their way to that position, and she did it specifically so she could go to law school.
Ellen’s family worked as sharecroppers picking cotton. When she was 10, her parents decided that there was little opportunity in Mississippi and they moved to California, settling in the Los Angeles area. (Ellen has noted that at the time, Mississippi did not require children to attend school.) Her mother found work as an upholsterer.
After [entering and] graduating from high school, Ellen took a job as a legal secretary and took classes at Los Angeles City College.
Ellen now works in property management and owns rental properties in the Los Angeles area. (the wiki)
Her work with Playboy took her to Chicago, where she was a bunny at the Playboy Club and lived at the Playboy Mansion. While there, Ellen became acquainted with Shel Silverstein, Sammy Davis Jr. and, of course, Hugh Hefner.
How do Ellen’s lawyer bosses feel about her appearance in Playboy’s Playmate of the Month? They dig it. So, gentleman of the jury, we are prepared to testify that we’ve a serious case on Ellen Stratton and any objections will be promptly overruled as soon as you’ve considered Exhibit A, her full-color Playmate pose attached hereto.
Exhibit A was impressive enough to make Ms. Stratton the first-ever, brand-spanking new, inaugural titleholder of Playmate of the Year, which she used as a launchpad to get the modeling money to continue her career in law, real estate, and set aside a nest egg to raise her family. Today she is a grandmother in Los Angeles and has recently begun attending GlamourCon, likely to the delight of vintage cheesecake fans everywhere. (What kind of weirdos keep track of this stuff? one can only imagine how empty and pathetic their lives are.) You keep on keepin’ on, girl!
I am here-and-there on the Hef-love but I fiercely heart this picture. Playboy made a huge difference in her life and enabled her to fulfill her dreams. She used the magazine instead of the common perception of the magazine using the playmates. Good on all parties invovled!