Janet Pilgrim (model)

Janet Pilgrim (born Charlaine Edith Karalus; June 13, 1934 – May 1, 2017) was an American model who became a Playmate of the Month while employed at Playboy's corporate office. She was chosen as Playmate of the Month three times: July 1955, December 1955 and October 1956.

Janet Pilgrim
Playboy centerfold appearance
July 1955
Preceded byEve Meyer
Succeeded byPat Lawler
Personal details
BornCharlaine Edith Karalus
(1934-06-13)June 13, 1934
Wheaton, Illinois, U.S.
DiedMay 1, 2017(2017-05-01) (aged 82)
Norwalk, Connecticut, U.S.
Height5 ft 6 in (168 cm)
Janet Pilgrim
Playboy centerfold appearance
December 1955
Preceded byBarbara Cameron
Succeeded byLynn Turner
Janet Pilgrim
Playboy centerfold appearance
October 1956
Preceded byElsa Sørensen
Succeeded byBetty Blue

Miss July 1955Edit

In 1955, Playboy was in its second year of production and had previously used professional models as Playmates.[1] Karalus worked for Hugh Hefner in the subscription department and agreed to pose for the July 1955 episode in exchange for a new addressograph for the office.[1] Hefner reportedly chose the name "Janet Pilgrim" as to make fun of sexual puritanism.[1]

Karalus appeared topless with a tuxedo-clad man reported to be Hefner in the background with his back to the camera.[1] The caption read in part: "We found Miss July in our own circulation department, processing subscriptions, renewals, and back copy orders. Her name is Janet Pilgrim and she's as efficient as she is good looking."[1]


Readers responded well to her appearance as Miss July and sent in letters asking for more Janet Pilgrim.[1] Despite getting offers to model for outside agencies, Janet chose to appear twice more as a Playmate and was listed on Playboy's masthead as head of reader's services department for the next 10 years.[2] Hefner at one point offered a personal phone call from Pilgrim in exchange for enrollment in a lifetime subscription to his magazine.[1]

Pilgrim is said to be the prototype of the "girl next door" approach to Playboy Playmates from that time onward.[1][2]

Personal lifeEdit

In the early 1980s she attended college to become a registered nurse, and worked in geriatrics. She was the daughter of Gedeminis Karalus and Hulda Wittekind. She was predeceased by her husband Alan Whitelaw; her brothers George and Donald, and sister Carol. She is survived by her sister Marilyn Pajkos; her daughters Linda (Kerry) Smith, of New Canaan; and Lisa (Gary) Wehner, of Hartwick, NY. She had five grandchildren: Zachary and Rachel Smith, of New Canaan; and Christopher, Jennifer, and Samantha Wehner, of Hartwick, New York.[3]

She died in Norwalk, Connecticut, at the age of 82.[4][3]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Watts, Steven (2009). Mr Playboy: Hugh Hefner and the American Dream. John Wiley and Sons. pp. 115–116, 128. ISBN 978-0-470-52167-0.
  2. ^ a b Fraterrigo, Elizabeth (2009). Playboy and the Making of the Good Life in Modern America. Oxford University Press US. pp. 123–124, 230. ISBN 978-0-19-538610-3.
  3. ^ a b "Charlaine Whitelaw, 82, formerly of New Canaan". New Canaan Advertiser. New Canaan, Connecticut. May 2, 2017.
  4. ^ "Rest In Peace, Janet Pilgrim, Playboy's First Girl Next Door". Playboy. May 1, 2017. Archived from the original on August 15, 2017. Retrieved June 18, 2017.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit