Star 80

(Writing about Vancouver) Another tragic event brought international attention to “the city on the left coast.” In August 1980, former Playboy Playmate of the Year and aspiring actress Dorothy Stratten was shot to death in Los Angeles by her estranged husband, Paul Snider. Both were originally from Vancouver and the news affected the whole city. I had actually worked with Snider two years earlier. Dressed as a pimp, Snider had wandered into Pharaohs, the club where I worked in the tourist area of Gastown. He billed himself as a club promoter and convinced the owners to stage a “John Travolta Dance-Alike” contest based on the movie Saturday Night Fever. Over the next couple of weeks the staff worked with him on this promotion. The waitresses nicknamed him “Snake Eyes.” Surprisingly, the contest was a huge success, and he continued to hang around the club. One night he came into Pharaohs and declared that he had discovered his future and she was serving in a Hastings Street Dairy Queen ice cream parlour. Her name was Dorothy Stratten and he was going to marry her, which he did, and make her a star, which he did. Their destiny took them to Los Angeles, success, heartbreak, and eventually murder. STAR 80 was Snider’s vanity license plate.

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