Barbi Benton - Facts - Information - Biography
Birthplace: Sacramento, CA
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Model, Musician, Actor
Nationality: United States
Boyfriend: Hugh Hefner (cohabited 1969-76)
Husband: George Gradow (m. 14-Oct-1979)
Son: Alexander Benton Gradow (b. 23-Aug-1986)
High School: Rio Americano High School, Sacramento, CA
Barbi Benton was born Barbara Klein to a Jewish family in New York on January 28, 1950. By 1952, her family had moved to Sacramento, California when her father, a military doctor, was assigned new duties there. Benton attended Rio Americano High School in Sacramento before heading for Los Angeles at age 16, where she began modeling to supplement her allowance.
By the time she met Hugh Hefner in 1968, Barbi Benton was getting regular work on television shows including Playboy After Dark which filmed A-list entertainers performing in Hugh Hefner's mansion surrounded by Playboy Playmates. Benton said she pretended to be Hefner's girlfriend for a couple of episodes and soon found herself living the role full time. She was on her way to becoming a multifaceted icon of 1970s glamor. Shortly after meeting Hefner, at his suggestion, she changed her name to the more showbiz-friendly Barbi Benton.
"When he asked me out," Barbi recalls, "I was 18 and he was 42. I said I'd never gone out with anyone older than 24, and he said, 'That's all right. Neither have I.' We hit it off right away, and it lasted for eight years!" Barbi earned the distinction of Hef's Extra-Special Lady.
During the previous few years in Chicago, Hugh Hefner had become known, rightly or wrongly, as something of a recluse. Barbi helped get him out of the house, onto an airplane - his own jet-black jet, the Big Bunny - and across the ocean on a seven-and-a-half-week grand tour of Europe and Africa that may never see its equal. Back in California, she found him a house. He fell in love with it, directed it to be landscaped according to his specifications and dubbed it Playboy Mansion West. Soon he was spending as much, if not more, time there than in his original Mansion in Chicago.
Barbi Benton was Hugh Hefner's own personal playmate throughout the 1970s, but she also became a recording star, a Las Vegas headliner and a movie actress, with credits including Deathstalker, The Naughty Cheerleader and Hospital Massacre. Although none of the films were particular box office successes, they enjoy a cult status among fans of B-movies.
Barbi Benton has recorded eight albums, the last of which she personally produced in 1979. She also composed the songs, sang them and played piano. Her biggest hit song was "Ain't That Just the Way", which was also a major hit for Lutricia McNeal in the 1990s.
Barbi Benton left Hefner for she eventually realized that he was not really interested in starting a new family. Benton married George Gradow, a successful developer on October 14, 1979. The couple now has two children, 16 and 18 years old. Benton mostly concentrates on building and designing homes now.