Hugh Hefner’s former girlfriend, Sondra Theodore, opens up about her experience at the Playboy Mansion in the new ‘Secrets of Playboy’ docuseries. Here’s what you need to know about her.
Sondra, now 65, was one of Hefner’s partners during Playboy’s heyday in the late ’70s and early ’80s. She makes some shocking claims about Hefner, including how he treated the women at the Playboy Mansion. From her time with Hefner to her past career aspiration, here are 5 key things to know about Sondra.
1. Sondra dated Hugh Hefner.
Sondra dated Hefner from 1976 to 1981 and lived at the Playboy Mansion. During the Secrets of Playboy docuseries, Sondra reveals that Hefner told her, “You’re the first girl I’ve liked enough to consider having a baby with. That was his romantic way, and people supported it.” She met Hefner when she was 19, and he was 50.
2. Sondra is a former ‘Playboy’ Playmate.
She was Playboy’s Playmate of the Month for its July 1977 issue. At the time, she was dating Hefner. Sondra’s parents feared the spread would “ruin” her career. “They’re really concerned, but within time it’ll blow over,” Sondra told The San Bernandino Sun in 1977. “It’ll become just a memory. I can’t blame them, they have a right to feel I did a wrong thing. But they continue to love me. They’re just a little confused as to why I did it. They think it will ruin my career.”
3. Sondra claims Hefner would ‘pit’ women against each other.
“He would pit us against each other. There was always a little tiff going with different girls,” Sondra says in Secrets of Playboy. She adds that if the girls were “a little unsure of themselves,” then Hefner could “have his way.”
Sondra claims that Hefner would insist she talk to other women, which eventually led to orgies. “I felt like I was a ringmaster. I felt like I had to put the show on every night,” Sondra says. Sondra goes on to say that she saw “girl after girl” show up at the Playboy Mansion, and their “beauty just washed away.” She adds, “I saw clearly that we were nothing to him.”
4. Sondra wanted to be an actress.
Sondra moved to Los Angeles in 1976 to become an actress. She claims that Hefner tried to put an end to her acting career. “When we broke up, a publicist told me I was supposed to be in a movie with Mary Tyler Moore, which would have been a big career move, to play her daughter,” Sondra told Fox News. “But he wouldn’t let me. I also learned from an executive that a memo went out, saying that nobody was allowed to tell me of any work coming in. And if I didn’t have any money, I couldn’t leave. He kept me secluded and pretty much under his thumb.”
5. Sondra says Hefner was ‘obsessed’ with Charles Manson.
“When we first started dating in the late ’70s, he was fascinated and obsessed with Charles Manson,” Sondra revealed. “He couldn’t talk enough about it.” Playboy photographer Sharmagne Leland-St. John-Sylbert reveals that Hefner even had the Manson’s home videos as part of his film collection, videos that were taken before the Tate-LaBianca murders.