10 'Playboy' Cover Girls Who Are Now Famous Hollywood Stars (PHOTOS)

Playboy has always sparked heated discussion about whether it exploits women or celebrates them, but one thing is certain: The magazine continues to feature celebrities who jump at the chance to appear sexy in print. Perhaps that's because the magazine has been a launchpad for so many stars, many of whom morphed their bare-all pictorials into careers in modeling, TV, and film.

In the case of the following 10 ladies, showing skin in Playboy magazine helped pluck them out of obscurity, introduce them to a mainstream audience, and lead to enormous success in high-profile careers, both in Hollywood and beyond. Here's a look at 10 Playboy cover stars as well as details on where they are now. 

 

Image © Splash News/Corbis

  • Jenny McCarthy: Playboy Cover

    1

    In 1993 she went from Midwestern Catholic schoolgirl to Playmate of the Month, earning a big paycheck to bare all ($20,000). McCarthy took it to the next level, moving into the Playboy Mansion and earning a $100,000 salary as Playmate of the Year. Not a bad start for a working class girl whose previous gig had been slicing salami at a South-side Chicago deli.

  • Jenny McCarthy: Now

    2

    The actress, TV host, and author is one of the most successful women to have launched a career with Playboy. She's written nine books, hosted her own talk show, and co-hosted The View. She even performed a stand-up comedy show. Never one to mince words, she became an outspoken autism activist after her son was diagnosed with the condition.

  • Cindy Crawford

    3

    By the time she landed on the Playboy cover in 1988, Cindy Crawford was already a sought-after model, having been in couture campaigns as well as on several magazine covers, though none quite like this one. Photographed by Herb Ritts, the shoot was more artful than explicit, and it helped to introduce Crawford to a wider audience.  

  • Cindy Crawford

    4

    The supermodel's career continued to grow after posing for Playboy. One of the original '90s supermodels, she landed a hosting gig on MTV's House of Style, and appeared in music videos and myriad ad campaigns. Over time she built an impressive empire that includes beauty, furniture and home goods. Her latest project: A memoir.

    More from The Stir: 14 Most Embarrassing Celebrity Nude Photo Scandals (PHOTOS)

     
  • Kim Kardashian

    5

    Before Kim Kardashian broke the Internet with her Paper cover, she broke newsstand records with her 1997 Playboy cover, one of the mag's bestselling issues ever. It didn't hurt that her sex tape had been leaked, making the socialite a tabloid sensation. 

  • Kim Kardashian

    6

    With scintillation as the foundation for her career, Mrs. Kanye West has built an empire that includes the reality show Keeping Up With The Kardashians, myriad endorsement deals and business ventures in beauty, fashion, shoes, pre-paid credit cards, energy drinks, baby clothes, books, diet pills, arousal oils, video games, perfume, liquor and jewelry, just to name a few. 

  • Joanna Krupa

    7

    A Chicago-raised Eastern European blonde who's 5'7 and boasts measurements of 32C-24-32 (according to Playboy.com), Krupa seemed destined for the magazine's cover. In 2005 just a few years after moving to Los Angeles to pursue a modeling career, that's just where she landed.

  • Joanna Krupa

    8

    More magazine covers, such as FHM and Maxim, kept Krupa in the spotlight a bit, but it wasn't until she appeared on Dancing with the Stars that she gained mainstream fame. She followed that up with another high-profile gig, The Real Housewives of Miami, which featured her $1 million wedding to a nightclub owner.

    More from The Stir: 10 Celebrities Who Posed Nude While Pregnant (PHOTOS)

  • Sharon Stone

    9

    It was no coincidence that Sharon Stone landed on the July 1990 Playboy cover: Her biggest movie to date, Total Recall, was debuting the same month. Before that she'd only played bit roles, and the cover shoot was a game changer.

  • Sharon Stone

    10

    The double whammy of Playboy cover and blockbuster movie became Stone's big breakthrough. She parlayed her fearlessness into super-stardom and the pop culture pantheon with her signature role in Basic Instinct, as well as other films.

  • Pamela Anderson

    11

    It all started with a Jumbotron. While attending a football game in her native Canada, Anderson was spotted on the giant screen. It led to a beer campaign and a call from Playboy, who placed her on a back-to-college cover in 1989.  

  • Pamela Anderson

    12

    The quintessential Playmate, Anderson has appeared on more Playboy covers than anyone else over the past 25 years. She is also known for her slo-mo beach jogs on Baywatch, which she joined a few years after her Playboy debut. But it's not all about the bod: She's an animal rights activist, and she's written two novels.  

    More from The Stir: The 36 Most Scandalous & Heartbreaking Celebrity Breakups (PHOTOS)

  • Carmen Electra

    13

    This bombshell's career seems to have a charmed beginning. She was discovered by Prince, who changed her name from Tara Leigh Patrick to Carmen Electra (much more pizazz) when he signed her to his music label. The album flopped, and it wasn't until she was featured in Playboy in 1993 that people really began to take notice.

  • Carmen Electra

    14

    This gorgeous babe has been featured in Playboy four more times, including three covers. She followed in fellow playmate Pamela Anderson's footsteps, joining Baywatch after her first appearance in the magazine. She's also starred in burlesque shows and written a book, How to be Sexy, as well as put out an "aerobic striptease" DVD. 

  • Anna Nicole Smith

    15

    A young and beautiful divorcee who also happened to be bored and restless sends in pictures of herself to Playboy with hopes of being featured. You can almost hear the conversation at the Playboy office, "Platinum blonde and a big buxom? She's in!" And just like that, Anna Nicole Smith's career was born.   

  • Anna Nicole Smith

    16

    Smith's appearance in Playboy led to a modeling career with brands such as Guess, which embraced her curvy figure. Bit roles in films led to a reality show showcasing her wild life. Often compared to her idol, Marilyn Monroe, Smith also died of an overdose, in 2007. 

    More from The Stir: Mama Bare: 15 Celebrity Moms Who've Done Nude Scenes

  • Kelly Monaco

    17

    Like fellow playmate Anna Nicole Smith, Monaco sent pictures to Playboy and became a Playmate of the Month in 1997. 

  • Kelly Monaco

    18

    Though Monaco appeared on the cover of Playboy's Mexico edition, she never made it into the U.S. version. Nevertheless, her centerfold was enough to catapult her onto Baywatch (notice a pattern here). She was later cast in the soap operas Port Charles and General Hospital, and won the first season of Dancing with the Stars. 

  • Marilyn Monroe

    19

    The woman who would become the ultimate Hollywood sex symbol was still an up-and-coming starlet when Hugh Hefner had the foresight to put her on the cover of the first issue of Playboy in 1953. Hefner also bought the rights to older pictures of Marilyn, including nudes, catapulting both of their careers.

  • Marilyn Monroe

    20

    The timing of the controversial cover couldn't have been better. Monroe's two films that year, How to Marry a Millionaire and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, became instant hits thanks to the attention. The combination of films and Playboy launched her career as a sex bomb and an A-list actress with comedic chops later displayed in classic films, such as Some Like it Hot and The Seven Year Itch.

    More from The Stir: Celebrities You Didn't Know Were Related (PHOTOS)

     

celebrity gossip

More