Star 80

Star 80 is a 1983 American biographical drama film based on Playboy model Dorothy Stratten, who was murdered by her husband Paul Snider in 1980. The film is written and directed by Bob Fosse, adapted from the Pulitzer Prize-winning Village Voice article "Death of a Playmate" by Teresa Carpenter, the title being taken from Snider's vanity license plates.

Star 80
Promotional poster
Directed byBob Fosse
Produced byWolfgang Glattes
Kenneth Utt
Screenplay byBob Fosse
Based onDeath of a Playmate
by Teresa Carpenter
Music byRalph Burns
CinematographySven Nykvist
Edited byAlan Heim
Distributed byWarner Bros.
Release date
November 10, 1983 (limited)
February 3, 1984
Running time
103 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$12 million
Box office$6,472,990[1]

The film stars Mariel Hemingway as Stratten and Eric Roberts as Snider, with supporting roles by Cliff Robertson, Carroll Baker, Roger Rees, Stuart Damon, Josh Mostel, and David Clennon. The film chronicles Stratten's relationship with Snider, their move to Los Angeles and her success as a Playboy model, and the eventual dissolution of their relationship and her murder.

Star 80 was filmed on-location in Vancouver, British Columbia and Los Angeles, California; the death scene was filmed in the same house in which the murder-suicide took place. Hugh Hefner, disliking the way he was depicted in the film, sued the producers of the picture. In accordance with the family's wishes, Dorothy's mother is never mentioned by name in the movie and the names of her sister and brother were altered. Other names were also changed due to legal concerns. It is the second movie based on the murder of Stratten, preceded by the 1981 television film Death of a Centerfold: The Dorothy Stratten Story in which Jamie Lee Curtis portrayed Stratten and Bruce Weitz portrayed Snider.

The film had a limited release in November 10, 1983, with a general release three months later in February of the following year. It was praised for Hemingway’s and Roberts's performances. Roberts won the Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actor and was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama, and Fosse was nominated for the Golden Bear and the Berlin Film Festival. It was Fosse's final film as director before his death in 1987.


In 1978, Dorothy Stratten is working at a Dairy Queen in her hometown of Vancouver, British Columbia when she meets Paul Snider, a brash small-time scam artist and pimp. Snider charms Stratten into letting him take her to her high school prom. He wins over Stratten with attention and flattery, getting her to pose nude for Polaroid photographs. Snider uses the photographs to persuade a professional to create a portfolio of her. Snider forges the signature of Stratten's mother on a consent form and sends the portfolio to Playboy. Playboy invites Stratten to Los Angeles to pose for a professional photographer.

Playboy founder and publisher Hugh Hefner makes Stratten Playmate of the Month for the August 1979 issue. Hefner provides lodging for Stratten and gives her a job as a bunny at an L.A. Playboy Club. Snider pressures Stratten into marrying him. She begins an acting career with small film and television roles and is made 1980's Playmate of the Year.

Snider purchases a Mercedes with the vanity license plate STAR 80, but feels dejected after losing money on failed business ventures and being eclipsed by Stratten's success. At the Playboy Mansion Stratten catches the eye of movie director Aram Nicholas, who lets her read for a film role. Snider hires a private investigator to follow Stratten and learns Stratten and Nicholas are sleeping together. Snider buys a shotgun after Stratten insists she is going to leave him. Disregarding Nicholas' plea for her to not see Snider again, Stratten agrees to meet with him to arrange a financial settlement. Snider pleads with Stratten not to leave him. He flies into a rage, rapes and shoots her before turning the gun on himself.



The film was screened out of competition at the 34th Berlin International Film Festival.[2] The Washington Post called it "Bob Fosse's latest stylish stinker." Gene Siskel placed the film on his top-10 list of the best films of 1983, taking into account that the film was very unpleasant to watch.[3] Roger Ebert gave the film four-out-of-four stars and deemed it an "important movie".[4]

Appearing with Siskel on an October 1986 edition of The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers, Ebert said Roberts should have been nominated for an Oscar for his work on Star 80. Ebert coined the phrase "Star 80 syndrome" after acknowledging Gary Oldman's Sid Vicious in Sid and Nancy was snubbed for the same reason as Roberts: "Hollywood will not nominate an actor for portraying a creep, no matter how good the performance is."[5]

The film opened in 16 theaters grossing $233,312 its opening weekend. Eventually, the film grossed $6,472,990 domestically with 502 theaters being its widest release.[6] Star 80 has an 86% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 14 reviews, with an average score of 7.14/10.[7]


Award Category Recipient(s) Result Ref(s)
Boston Society of Film Critics Awards Best Actor Eric Roberts Won [8]
Golden Globe Awards Best Actor – Drama Nominated [9]
New York Film Critics Circle Awards Best Actor (3rd place) [10]
Berlin Film Festival Golden Bear Bob Fosse [11]


  1. ^ Star 80 at Box Office Mojo
  2. ^ "Berlinale: 1984 Programme". Retrieved January 6, 2011.
  3. ^ "The Best of 1983", Siskel & Ebert at the Movies, 1983.
  4. ^ "Star 80". Chicago Sun-Times – via
  5. ^ Ebert, Roger (October 17, 1986). "Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel". The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers. Season 1. Episode 7. Fox Network. Fox Entertainment Group. I tell you who definitely won't be [Oscar] nominated – and should be, and that's a young British actor named Gary Oldman, who plays Sid Vicious – the punk rocker – in Sid and Nancy. And he's going to fall prey to the Star 80 syndrome, which is why Eric Roberts wasn't nominated: Hollywood will not nominate an actor for portraying a creep, no matter how good the performance is...He [Roberts] should have been nominated.
  6. ^ "Star 80 (1983) – Financial Information".
  7. ^ "Star 80 (1983)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved September 30, 2019.
  8. ^ "Past Award Winners – Boston Society of Film Critics".
  9. ^ "Star 80".
  10. ^ "Star 80".
  11. ^ "Programme 1984".

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