Total sassafrass: brace yourselves for the sap flood.
Playboy readers are a strongly partisan bunch, quick to tell us when they like something — or when they don’t. Last October, we were faced with the delightful dilemma of choosing between two potential Playmates, each lovely in her own way.
(“Command Performance: A near miss makes a curvy comeback.” Playboy, August 1956.)
We hemmed, hawed, made our choice; and in addition to the Playmate proper, we printed photos of the girl who didn’t quite make it. The result was a deluge of letters telling us we were blind as the well-known bat and should have picked the other girl.
I think even in 1956 if a man said simperingly to a fellow bachelor, “Blind as the well-known bat,” with his pinky up all hmmhmmHMM, he would’ve got his ass kicked. Unless it was Noel Coward. That dude was hard core.
Nice fawning write-up, but the wiki suggests the murky October shenanigans went down differently:
Nicely was originally supposed to be a Playmate for the October 1955 issue, but scheduling and creative conflicts temporarily pushed her aside in favor of Jean Moorhead.
Creative conflict? What an interesting and euphemistic phrase. I wonder what the real story is.
This picture was not included in the original spread but comes rather from The First Fifteen Years. Seeing as it is so close in composition to the picture which was ultimately selected as the centerfold, my guess is that it was down to those two poses and perhaps a few others as to which would be run as the main gatefold shot. I also conjecture that this one didn’t make the cut because she is not quite looking in to the camera.
Ms. Nicely hails from Fort Smith, Arkansas, where the US Marshals have their National Museum. Fort Smith’s nickname is “Hell on the Border.” The town motto is: “Life’s worth living in Fort Smith, Arkansas,” which I understand is to encourage residency and visitation, but all I can think when I read it is, “… unlike in Detroit.”
This picture was not included in either of her Playboy appearances. It must have come from a shoot for a different periodical. I threw it up anyway because I dig the “Girlfriend of the Whirling Dervish” vibe that’s happening here. If you know the photograph’s provenance, please feel free to lay it on me.
This is so Psycho. Yes? The italian boy hairstyling, the thick brows and light-bullet bra, the pencil skirt and mirrored moment of intimacy. Very Janet Leigh as dictated by Hitchcock. But the picture predates the film by four years, so I’m not suggesting it was deliberate. Just echo-y.
These pictures are markedly different and grainier than all the others, so they may be the early October shots in question. Alternately, they may be poses for a different magazine, and the photos which are mentioned in Ms. Nicely’s write-up are the ones where she has very short hair and is goofing around in her bedroom with “go, team” type get-ups.
I do lean toward that explanation because it would mean that the shots where Ms. Nicely has longer hair and is in and around the house are more thematically unified instead of the kind of jumble it all looks like now.
The first group of pictures had an angle of youth and “oopsie, you caught me dressing,” and these latter group are suggestive of a more mature, consenting, young wifey type leading you around her house after she picks up the milk.
Does this make sense?
She apparently did other modeling work for a bit in the late 50’s, but she jumped ship to pursue work of a totally different nature. Ms. Nicely spent a long and trailblazing career as a mechanic for Rockwell International at their B-1 bomber plant.
The various Rockwell companies list a large number of firsts in their histories, including the World War II P-51 Mustang fighter and the B-25 Mitchell bomber, and the Korean War-era F-86 Sabre, as well as the Apollo spacecraft, the B-1 Lancer bomber, the Space Shuttle, and most of the Navstar Global Positioning System satellites. Rocketdyne, which had been spun off by North American in 1955, was re-merged into Rockwell in 1984, and by that time produced most of the rocket engines used in the United States.
I said goddamn, Jonnie Nicely! Way to do it.
Above is a recent picture of Jonnie promoting her Playboy issue and doing signings for fans. Below is a picture from one of my favorite ladies, Dolores del Monte (Miss March 1954), a vintage model who is super-active in the convention circuit and maintains a lovely website.
l to r: Ms. Nicely, Rick Linnehan (astronaut), Dolores del Monte (Miss March 1954), very special Valentine Vixen Kona Carmack (Miss February 1996), Cynthia Meyers (Miss December 1986), and Peggy McIntaggart (Miss January 1990) at the Los Angeles Glamourcon, November 2008.
Keep on rockin’ in the free world, ladies!
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