From her name and slyly amused, distinctly un-cheesecakey pose and expressions, I figured that the lovely and talented Linné Nanette Ahlstrand would be that rare beast, the international Playmate.
Color me all wrong. Ms. Ahlstrand was actually born in Chicago, Illinois, the hometown of Playboy and a city from which a substantial number of early and heyday Playmates hailed. The text which accompanied Ms. Ahlstrand’s pictorial alluded to having discovered her on the beach in Los Angeles but it is rich with malarkey and does not even bother to feature an interview with her, so I have my doubts.
The title of her write-up was “The Laziest Girl in Town,” which also lead me to expect to find her of some German or Swedish extraction. The title comes from the song “The Laziest Gal in Town” a Cole Porter tune, which was a longtime staple of Marlene Dietrich’s performing repertoire.
Ms. Dietrich was a famously German-American international treasure who kept on ticking unlike her early celebrity companions such as Joan Crawford and the great Garbo and she had begun to tour live around this time (1958) in addition to continuing to appear in movies.
As an example, she made her biggest pictures after age 35, something like an early model of Meryl Streep. Witness for the Prosecution, Judgment at Nuremberg, and Alfred Hitchcock’s Stage Fright were all made when Marlene was over 40 years old. That is nothing to sneeze at. I have an album on which she sings “The Laziest Girl in Town” and she still has such a wonderful husky strong accent that it sounds like “lay-zeh-est gell een tone.” Love it.
With that in mind, I figured they were establishing with the title of Ms. Ahlstrand’s article a link to Marlene and particularly one of her former screen characters to parallel Ms. Ahlstrand bieng of foreign extraction and languishing in the Western sun. See, Dietrich played diverse roles in her youngest years under Josef von Sternberg but became indelibly known by larger and more modern audiences for portraying a sexy bargirl in the Old West named Frenchy — despite her outrageously strong German accent — in the sweeping frontier film Destry Rides Again (George Marshall, 1939).
The posters for the film claimed that it had “Corralled the greatest cast in cinema history!” Dietrich’s career-making part in Destry Rides Again was parodied by Madeline Kahn, departed queen of all that’s wonderful, in the 1974 Mel Brooks satire Blazing Saddles as the saloon singer Lili Von Schtupp (R.I.P., MK).
Of course all this conjecture came to nothing, like I said, when I realized that Ms. Ahlstrand was from Chicago and not of any exotic blonde overseas extraction. She moved from Chicago to New York to pursue modeling when she was younger, then out to L.A. and environs to dig in to acting in film and television.
Though Linné was best known by audiences for her work in television as a dispatcher on the program Highway Rescue, she was also in several films throughout the late 50’s and early 60’s, including Senior Prom, Beast from Haunted Cave, and Holiday for Lovers. Her most substantial big screen role was in Herschell Gordon Lewis’s Living Venus, in which she played Diane.
Unlike the gory funfests for which Lewis later became known, Living Venus is more of a biopic. Related to this post, the subject of Living Venus‘s rise-and-fall story is a publisher very much like Hugh Hefner. Jack Norwall, the fictionalized Hef played by Bill Kerwin, starts a magazine called Pagan.
Pagan’s success leads him to leave his loving fiancee and take up with his lovely and talented model, a waitress he discovered while hatching the idea for the magazine. Ms. Ahlstrand does not play the model, but rather the jilted good girl. The model ends up leaving him and killing herself as he becomes increasingly arrogant and tyrannical due to his success, and Norwall comes to realize that being on top was not all he cracked it up to be. But too late, as he has lost for good his fiancee, best friend, and soul.
I’d like to point out that in my opinion the only part of Living Venus that really parallels Hef is Jack Norwall starting a successful nudie mag. Hef did not leave his wife for another woman; quite the opposite actually. So, no.
A little looker, Ms. Ahlstrand was 5’2″ at the time of her appearance in Playboy, which I believe puts her on an equal footing with Kai Brendlinger (bleah) for shortest Playmate until feisty pocket rocket Joni Mattis’s famously not-nude appearance (love her forever) and eventual eclipsement by Sue Williams who at 4’11” at the time of her appearance in 1965 is the pocketiest rocket of them all, aww — that we know of. It’s tough to say for sure because, prior to September of 1959, the Playmates were not required to complete a data sheet. So unless their height came up in the article or their contemporaneous stats appeared in parallel work elsewhere, the math is fuzzy.
Click below for scans of the original article.
Tragically Ms. Ahlstrand died of cancer in January of 1967. She was only 30 years old and had been married less than a year and a half. R.I.P. to such a young talent.