Barbi Benton

Barbi Benton

Benton in 1977
Born Barbara Lynn Klein
(1950-01-28) January 28, 1950
New York, New York, U.S.
Occupation Playboy Model
Recording Artist
Interior decorator
Years active 19701986
Spouse(s) George Gradow (1979–present)
Partner(s) Hugh Hefner (1969–1976)
Children 2

Barbi Benton (born Barbara Lynn Klein;[1] January 28, 1950) is an American model, actress, and singer.

Early life

Benton was born Barbara Lynn Klein in New York City, New York, to a Jewish family.[2] She moved with her parents to California when she was 2 years old. She grew up in Sacramento[3] and attended Rio Americano High School.


Don Adams (center) Benton and Hugh Hefner from the television program Playboy After Dark

At the age of 16, she began to model to help supplement her income. Following high school, she attended UCLA, and at age 18 took a job with Playboy to appear on their entertainment show Playboy After Dark. Her role was as co-host and beautiful companion to the show's director of entertainment, Hugh Hefner. After recording two sessions, Hefner asked the young co-ed for a date. Upon being asked, she reports demurring 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 convinced 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 magazine 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 comic sketches, and subsequently enjoyed a career as a country singer. She also began acting, and appeared in a few "B" movies before appearing as a featured repeat performer on a number of popular television shows, including The Love Boat and Fantasy Island. Benton lived with Hefner from 1969 until 1976 and is known for discovering the Playboy Mansion West where Hefner resides today.[4] Years later when the TV series The Girls Next Door visited her in Aspen, Colorado, she expressed gratitude that the two had remained friends.

Benton is known for her years as a regular on the country variety series Hee Haw, appearing in comic sketches with other cast members. She left the program after four seasons to concentrate on a more Hollywood-oriented career. She also starred in the short-lived 1977 ABC-TV comedy series Sugar Time!, about an aspiring female rock group and in films including the 1982 slasher Hospital Massacre.

Benton was also a recording artist with some success. Her record "Brass Buckles" (1975) was a top-five hit on Billboard's country singles chart. Benton has recorded eight albums, the last of which she personally produced in 1979. She also composed the songs, sang them, and played piano. One of her better-known songs was "Ain't That Just the Way" (1976) - a number one hit in Sweden for 5 weeks, which was also a major hit for Lutricia McNeal in 1996, and was recorded by the Dutch singer Patricia Paay under the title Poor Jeremy in 1977.

Personal life

Benton married George Gradow, a real-estate developer, on October 14, 1979.[1] They have two children, Alexander (born August 23, 1986) and Ariana Gradow (born July 13, 1988). For many years, they divided their time between their homes in Aspen and Los Angeles.

On April 28, 2006, Gradow was sentenced to 15 months in prison after pleading guilty to tax fraud and altering financial documents in a bid to mislead the Internal Revenue Service.[5]



Year Album Chart Positions Label
US Country US
1975 Barbi Doll 17 Playboy
Barbi Benton 18
1976 Something New 39 208
1978 Ain't That Just the Way
1988 Kinetic Voyage Takoma


Year Title Peak positions Album
US Country US
CAN Country
1975 "Brass Buckles" 5 6 Barbi Benton
"Movie Magazine, Stars in Her Eyes" 61
"Roll You Like a Wheel" (with Mickey Gilley) 32 19 N/A
"The Reverend Bob" 74 Barbi Benton
1976 "Staying Power" 108 Something New
"—" denotes releases that did not chart


Television appearances

Theater appearances


  1. 1 2 "People magazine". Retrieved 2008-10-12.
  2. Lambert, Josh (February 24, 2010). "My Son, The Pornographer". Retrieved 20 October 2012.
  3. Buchalter, Gail (April 7, 1980). "Former Playmate Barbi Benton Is Heels Over Head in Love with Tycoon George Gradow". People (magazine). Retrieved July 20, 2013.
    • a "She grew up in Sacramento, where her father was a gynecologist and her mother worked as an investment counselor." — ¶ 9.
  4. Hinant, Cindy (2012). "Grids Next Door". Gnome. 1 Winter (1): 48–53. The California Mansion, or Playboy Mansion West, is a Tudor Gothic mansion in Los Angeles found by then girlfriend, Barbi Benton.
  5. Aspen developer gets 15 months, James Paton, April 28, 2006, Rocky Mountain News
  6. Whitburn, Joel (2011). Top Pop Singles 1955–2010. Record Research, Inc. p. 70. ISBN 0-89820-188-8.

External links

This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 12/4/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.