Barbi Benton, born Barbara Lynn Klein on January 28, 1950, is an American actress, model, and singer who rose to fame in the 1960s and 1970s.
Known for her striking beauty and multifaceted career, Benton made a significant impact on the entertainment industry during her prime.
Her early years were marked by an inclination towards the arts and an interest in modeling.
At just 16 years old, she began her modeling career, which quickly gained traction due to her enchanting looks and charisma.
Her journey in the modeling industry paved the way for her entry into the world of entertainment.
Following high school, while attending UCLA, Benton took a job with Playboy to appear on their entertainment show Playboy After Dark at age 18.
She initially started as an extra on the show, but after host Hugh Hefner fell in love with Benton, her role was quickly elevated to co-host. After recording two episodes, Hefner asked the young co-ed for a date.
Upon being asked, she reportedly demurred to the then-42-year-old Hefner: “I don’t know, I’ve never dated anyone over 24 before.” To which Hefner replied, “That’s all right, neither have I.”
The two began a relationship that lasted several years, and placed Benton in the center of the Playboy enterprise.
Hefner persuaded her to change her name from Barbara Klein to the more “marketable” Barbi Benton.
Benton (initially credited as Barbi Klein) appeared on the cover of Playboy four times: July 1969, March 1970, May 1972, and December 1985, and in additional nude photo layouts in the December 1973 and January 1975 issues.
Though she was featured in a number of photo-essays, she was never a Playmate of the Month.
She landed a spot on television’s Hee Haw doing short comedy sketches, and often appeared as a dancer on some of the last series of the Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In shows, and subsequently enjoyed a career as a country singer.
In addition to her television and modeling endeavors, Barbi Benton pursued a music career. She released several albums during the 1970s, including “Barbi Doll” and “Ain’t That Just the Way.”
Baribi married real estate developer George Gradow in 1979, with whom she had two children.
Benton’s decision to step away from the entertainment industry to focus on her family marked a significant shift in her life.
In her later years, Benton continued to maintain a low profile, prioritizing her family life over her career in the spotlight.
(Photo credit: Pinterest / Wikimedia Commons).