May Flowers: Dolly Read, Miss May 1966 with bonus “Showdown!” dishevelment

Thought this got out last night and just checked the main page and realized it didn’t. Sorry, dudes.

You are all like, Will the girls of summer be back this year, E? And I am all like, Well of course. What kind of shoddy outfit do you think I’m running here? But first, we have to close out the May Flowers.

Photographed by Pompeo Posar.

This year’s last May Flower is the lovely and talented Dolly Read, Playboy’s Miss May 1966.

Britannia’s first Bunny-Playmate, Dolly Read, recalls excitedly the night she was spotted by staff photographer Pompeo Posar during her training stint as a Chicago Club bumper-pool Bunny. “He asked me if I would like to consider becoming a Playmate, and I thought it was a smashing good idea,” says Dolly.

(“Bunny From Britain,” Playboy. May, 1966.)

The former Miss Bristol Teenager had a budding stage career before opting for Bunny satin instead. She entered the Eleine Hartley-Hodder School of Drama at the age of eight and emerged an aspiring actress some ten years later.


Renting a flat in the Marleybone section of London, centerfoldom’s latest Commonwealth import saw several workless weeks before landing her first acting job in a local TV series called Compact.


IIt was sort of a feminine version of your own Valentine’s Day, says Dolly. “All I had was a walk-on part, but it seemed like the greatest role since Lady Macbeth to me.”


Soon after, she was signed on for her first film role in Kiss of the Vampire, and went on to play a number of “rather prosaic” video roles until Bunnydom beckoned.


Click to enlarge.

Dolly and her five British cottontail cousins arrived in Chicago last October. Each member of this sensational sextet–which includes Doreen Allen, Kathleen Bascombe, Joan Findlay, Catherine MacDonald and Magie Adam–won top ratings among 1000 entrants in last summer’s nationwide British Bunny Contest sponsored by Radio London.


Having since graduated from Bunny Training School and now completing a seven-month apprenticeship at the Chicago Club — with equal emphasis given to such curricular requirements as the Bunny Dip, tableside photography, tending the Playboy Club Gift Shop and Door Bunnying, bumper-pool playing and the extra-special VIP Room service.


This group will return to England shortly for the upcoming opening of the ultra-U London Playboy Club.

During off-hours, Dolly and her compatriots bunked in one of the Playboy Mansion Bunny Dorms and spent many fascinating hours fancy-that-ing most of the Second City’s sights. “Chicago’s a bit of all right,” reports the 21-year-old Miss May in her charmingly clipped British accent, “and Mr. Hefner’s house is a proper palace, but we’re all a trifle homesick.”


Dolly recently added several promotion trips for Playboy to her busy Stateside schedule, including visits to Michigan State University (“What I liked most about American college men is, they never let studies foul up their dating”), Great Lakes Naval Hospital and a trip to Boston for Playboy’s opening night there.


“I’ll start as the Door Bunny,” Miss May explains, “but eventually I hope to put in some time as a Croupier Bunny in one of the Club’s gaming rooms. More excitement there, you know!”


Dolly got even more excitement when she wung her way west to Hollywood. After appearing in the low-budget lesbian film That Tender Touch, Dolly landed the lead in Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, one of the greatest camp films of all time. Written by Roger Ebert and directed by Russ Meyer, the film is unforgettable, and Dolly shines in it. Highly recommend. Depending on your cult film tolerance.

Favorite shot.

Ms. Read married Dick Martin of Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In in 1971, then divorced him in ’75, and remarried him in ’78. They must have worked things out because they remained married after that until his death in May of 2008. She continued to appear in film and television cameos throughout the 1970’s and beyond.

You can try and hit Mrs. Martin up on the myspace (current mood: none), but it looks like she may not use it much.

Scans of the original spread. Click to see full-sized.

The similarity of the poses, lighting, and makeup in the following three pictures inspired me to finally do another “Showdown!” feature. So, pick your poison! Which “Dolly Read in dishevelment” shot rocks your socks?

One of these days we’ll have a full-on Beyond the Valley of the Dolls movie moment, but for now, enjoy this final screencap:

Catch you on the flip!

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14 Responses to “May Flowers: Dolly Read, Miss May 1966 with bonus “Showdown!” dishevelment”

  1. thoughtsaboutart Says:

    I loved this entry. I just grabbed me a cup of coffee and now im going to read your entire blog. I hope it takes a while because im waiting for my sister and she is very late.

  2. Malcolm MacAllister Says:

    i was in the same class as her at St Annes Junior school.St Annes.Bristol in the 1950’s have still got the class photo somewhere.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    I was at this her house two nights ago, still looks stunning..

  4. Tel-X Says:

    Would she like to remarry..?

  5. dj dave Says:

    even though Cynthia Myers is my all time playmate,
    Dolly Read is amazing. BVD is an eye opener for us
    guys, and they don’t make em like they used to…

  6. Jacques Couture Says:

    Dolly est une femme superbe. Elle est d’une beauté exceptionnelle.
    Une très jolie figure et un corps magnifique.
    J’aime beaucoup.

  7. Robert D. Vinson Says:

    Would she like to remarry? At 67 and young at heart I am just right for her.

  8. david singer Says:

    d singer.. have painting (top picture of miss read cant read artist signature ? any help?

  9. Anonymous Says:


  10. Jon, Retired Senior Chief USN Says:

    Just wanted to say thanks to Dolly for giving us all hope in a very grim setting 45 years ago in Vietnam. That beautiful stunning smile in her centerfold that was pinned up in our River Patrol Boat was our link to sanity. For a 19 year old sailor living the real “Apocalypse Now” that beautiful face & smile was a life saver. I still have that centerfold. It reminds me even now that no matter what is going right or wrong there are truly beautiful things in this world. Dolly’s smile is one of them. Thank You.

  11. Larry Frey Says:

    A friend of mine, Wayne Beck who corresponded with Dolly in the 1960’s three or four times was asking me if I could reconnect them so here goes. He’s 70 now. Please email me with a way to contact Ms. Read. Thanks

  12. Larry Frey Says:

    My friend Wayne Beck corresponded 3 or 4 times with Dolly in the 60’s and wants to reconnect. Please notify me as Wayne’s 70 now. Thanks

  13. Mike Says:

    I just finished watching Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. Have to say that Dolly is one of the most beautiful ever seen. I was only 7 when the movie came out. I hope her all the best and thanks for a great fantasy.

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