Model and actress Cynthia Myers, a 1968 Playboy Playmate, died Nov. 4. She was 61. Hugh Hefner announced her death on Twitter: “I’m saddened by the news of the passing of beloved Playmate Cynthia Myers, Miss December 1968.” No details about the cause of death have been released yet.
Myers’ movie roles were few. She reportedly had a bit part as a native girl in The Lost Continent (1968) and an undetermined one in Sydney Pollack’s They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? (1969), a psychological drama set during the Great Depression, and starring Jane Fonda and Michael Sarrazin.
In 1970, Myers entered the annals of cult movie history when she was cast as one of the leads in Russ Meyer’s Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, written by Roger Ebert and co-starring fellow Playboy Playmate Dolly Read and fashion model Marcia McBroom. Hardly one of the most well-regarded movies ever made, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls tells the story of three young women who come to Hollywood, but instead of fame and riches find lots of horny men, drug abuse, and softcore sex. Myers’ role was that of lesbian rock-and-roll singer and bass player.
According to several sources, the now cult classic cost less than $1 million and earned approximately $9 million; part of that success can be attributed to free publicity provided by outraged state censors and several equally outraged film critics such as the Saturday Review‘s Hollis Alpert, who lambasted the “materialistic corruption” at distributor 20th Century Fox that allowed the studio to release such a “major skinflick.”
After Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, Myers landed a supporting role in Gary Nelson’s Western Molly and Lawless John (1972), starring sheriff’s wife Vera Miles and escaped bandit Sam Elliott as fugitive lovers on the run. Myers’ film career abruptly ended at that point.
Fifteen years later, her Playboy centerfold was featured in John Irvin’s Vietnam War drama Hamburger Hill. The image had been part of a 1968 pictorial titled “Wholly Toledo!” because of her hometown (in Ohio, not Spain) and large breasts.
Additionally, Myers was a frequent guest on Hugh Hefner’s Playboy After Dark TV series in the late ’60s. She also had an official website featuring several Cynthia Myers photos.
Hollis Alpert quotes: David K. Frasier’s Russ Meyer: The Life and Films