Pop Culture

That’s hop! Playboy ‘bunnies’ who found fame

For many starlets in Hollywood, a spread for Playboy Magazine comes after they’ve hit it big. For these ladies, however, Playboy was just the start to their successful careers.

From movies and soaps, to reality shows and racy workout tapes, these ladies bared it all for the famous mag, and reaped the rewards big time.

In honor of the Easter Bunny’s annual visit, Access counts down some of the most successful “bunnies” in the business!

14. Kelly Monaco: “Miss April” 1997 put her moves to good use on season one of “Dancing With the Stars,” when Monaco snagged the first disco ball trophy. She also rocked a swimsuit on “Baywatch,” before landing at “General Hospital.” In 2009, Monaco went back to basics in the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino’s “Peepshow” where she currently stars as Little Bo Peep alongside Mel B.

13. Brande Roderick: After a few racy ’90s movies, the new millennium brought new opportunities for Roderick to show off her body. She showed up in both Playboy and “Baywatch” in 2000 and followed it up with a 2001 Playmate of the Year nod. Roles in “Starsky & Hutch,” “Snoop Dogg’s Hood of Horror” and “The Nanny Diaries” followed, as did appearances on “Just Shoot Me” and “Beverly Hills, 90210.” How did she top it? Tackling The Donald in the boardroom on this season of NBC’s “Celebrity Apprentice,” of course.

12. Jeana Keough: This “Real Housewife” once doubled as Playboy’s “Miss November” 1980 and a ZZ Top video vixen. She had a few brief appearances in television, including “Cheers” and “TJ Hooker” and on the big screen. But after more than a decade in the suburbs, Keough busted back into our homes and our hearts as Vicki’s mignon-turned-frenemy on Bravo’s guilty pleasure, “The Real Housewives of Orange County.”

11. Shanna Moakler: This former beauty queen finished as first runner up in the Miss USA competition in 1995. After the winner went on to Miss Universe, Moakler snagged the crown. After that brief stint, she received another honor — Playmate of the Month (Dec. 2001). Minor roles in television followed before Moakler fell for Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker. The two married, did a reality show on MTV, then divorced, then reconciled, then broke up ... or maybe they’re back together. Who can keep track?

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    Celebrity Anna Nicole Smith's photo is seen in a 1985 Mexia High School year book under the name, Nikki Hart, in Mexia

    Anna Nicole Smith

    The short, tragic life of the former Playboy playmate and model.

  • Celebrity Anna Nicole Smith's photo is seen in a 1985 Mexia High School year book under the name, Nikki Hart, in Mexia

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    Anna Nicole Smith's photo is seen in a 1985 Mexia (Texas) High School yearbook under the name Nikki Hart. School officials say Smith went by the name Nikki Hart during her brief tenure there.

    Reuters / Reuters
  • Anna Nicole Smith

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    Short, tragic life -

    The cover of the June 1993 Playmate of the Year issue of Playboy magazine featured Anna Nicole Smith. Smith, the pneumatic blonde whose life played out as an extraordinary tabloid tale -- jeans model, Playboy centerfold, widow of an octogenarian billionaire, reality-show subject, tragic mother -- died Thursday, Feb. 8, 2007, after collapsing at a Hollywood, Fla., hotel. She was 39.

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  • Smith & Her License Plate

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    Smith holds a Texas license plate that reads "PMOY 93" (Playmate of the Year).

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  • ANNA NICOLE SMITHⓡ HOWARD MARSHALL    after his death, anna nicole smith fights

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    Happy husband -

    Millionaire J. Howard Marshall II made headlines in 1994 when he married Smith. She was 26 and he was 89. He died Aug. 5, 1995, when he was 90. Smith and Marshall's son, E. Pierce Marshall, battled over Marshall's estate. The boy next to Marshall is Smith's late son, Daniel.

    Sipa Press / Sipa Press
  • NICOLE SMITH

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    Daniel's short life -

    Smith and her son Daniel, 13, leave a federal courthouse in Los Angeles on Oct. 27, 1999. His body was found in the Bahamas on Sunday, Sept. 10, 2006. A coroner's report ruled the death was caused by an overdose of anti-depressants and methadone.

    AP / AP
  • MARSHALL SMITH STERN

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    Fighting for her share -

    Smith listens in court in Houston with her attorneys Tom Cunningham and Howard Stern on Monday, Oct. 2, 2000. Sixteen jurors, four of them alternates, were seated to hear the lawsuit where Smith laid claim to a share of the oil fortune of her deceased husband, J. Howard Marshall II. Smith married the Texas oil tycoon in 1994 and he died the following year. Stern later reportedly married Smith and claimed to be the father of Dannielynn Hope Marshall Stern.

    Pool via AP / Pool via AP
  • SMITH

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    Back to work -

    Smith is surrounded by members of KISS at the conclusion of the Lane Bryant show featuring plus size fashions in New York on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2002. The legendary rock band gave a live performance throughout the runway show, which kicked off New York Fashion Week.

    AP / AP
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    Activist -

    In this handout image from PETA, Smith poses as Marliyn Monroe for a 2004 ad campaign titled, Gentlemen Prefer Fur Free Blondes. PETA's Michael McGraw said in reaction to Smith's death, "She was a great friend to animals and used every opportunity to speak out against senseless cruelty."

    PETA via AP / PETA via AP
  • NYC: Heatherette - Fall 2004 - Runway

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    Smith walks the runway at the Heatherette fashion show during Olympus Fashion Week in New York on Feb. 12, 2004.

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  • "G-Phoria - The Award Show 4 Gamers" in Los Angeles

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    Smith feigns a "wardrobe malfunction" before announcing Rikku in "Final Fantasy X-2" as the Hottest Character award winner during "G-Phoria -- The Award Show 4 Gamers" in Los Angeles on Aug. 1, 2004.

    Corbis / Corbis
  • ANNA NICOLE

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    Smith waves during an appearance backstage during the Live 8 concert in Philadelphia on July 2, 2005. The production company behind the concerts claimed in a lawsuit against Trimspa Inc. that its reputation was damaged by Smith's attire and conduct. Smith, a spokesperson for Trimspa, was not named as a defendant in the lawsuit.

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  • SMITH STERN

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    Wowing the Supremes -

    Smith and her lawyer Howard K. Stern leave the U.S. Supreme Court on Feb. 28, 2006. In a unanimous decision, the court ruled that Smith could continue her claim for part of her late husband's fortune.

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    Home sweet home? -

    Smith holds her daughter Dannielyn Hope and poses with Stern and "Entertainment Tonight" co-host Mark Steines at the couple's home in the Bahamas on Saturday, Oct. 28, 2006. Businessman and former boyfriend G. Ben Thompson threatened to evict Smith from her Bahamas home, claiming she wasn't making the mortgage payments.

    Entertainment Tonight via AP / Entertainment Tonight via AP
  • Anna Nicole Smith watches a boxing match from the ringside at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood

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    No sign of trouble -

    Smith watched a boxing match from near ringside at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Fla., on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2007. She died Feb. 8, 2007.

    Reuters / Reuters
  • Virgie Arthur (C) mother of Anna Nichole

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    A mother mourns -

    Smith's mother, Virgie Arthur, center, and her husband James Arthur, left, embrace as the coffin of Anna Nicole leaves a Bahamas church on March 2, 2007, as the former Playboy model headed to her final resting three weeks after her death. A throng of Bahamians, tourists and media crushed behind police barriers as the pink-laced white coffin was carried into the Mount Horeb Baptist Cathedral in Nassau, Bahamas, for a funeral ceremony closed to all but 300 invited guests.The church was reportedly filled with pink roses, and sources close to the funeral said Smith's body was clad in a gown and tiara.

    AFP - Getty Images / AFP - Getty Images
  • Locals stand before the grave of Anna Ni

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    Locals stand before the grave of Smith at the Lakeview Memorial Gardens in Nassau, Bahamas, on March 2, 2007.

    AFP - Getty Images / AFP - Getty Images
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    'I told you so!' -

    Larry Birkhead rejoices after hearing in a Bahamian court on April 10, 2007, that he has been proven to be the legal father of Smith's baby, Dannielynn. Birkhead later hugged Howard K. Stern, who had been acting as the baby's father.

    AP / AP
  • Image: Larry Berkhead, Dannielynn

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    Derby day with daughter -

    Birkhead and Dannielynn feed a pony at the Kentucky Derby Museum in Louisville, Ky., on Wednesday, April 28. 2010. Birkhead, a Louisville native, first met Anna Nicole at a 2004 party around the famous horse race.

    AP / AP

9. Bettie Page: Page modeled for many years before landing on Playboy’s doorstep in 1955, but it wasn’t until the 1980s that her surge in popularity gained a cult following. Like most successful models, Page was discovered on a whim, when an off-duty police officer took a photo of her on Coney Island. After establishing herself as a bondage and fetish model, Page caught the eye of Hefner and became “Miss January” 1955. Although her life was plagued by mental illness, the public became enchanted with her through the ’80s and ’90s, and she continues to inspire pin-up models to this day.

8. Jayne Mansfield: Mansfield did it all — stage, screen and a recording career. She was also married three times and a mother to five (including “Law & Order: SVU’s” Mariska Hargitay). Mansfield posed for Playboy in 1955, the same year she began landing roles on the big screen. In 1957, she earned a Golden Globe for new star of the year, and although her professional career was relatively short-lived (she died in a car accident at 34), she is forever remembered for her platinum locks and buxom hourglass figure.

7. “The Girls Next Door:” Kendra Wilkinson, Bridge Marquardt and Holly Madison secured their spot on our countdown after rising to fame as Hef’s three lady loves on “The Girls Next Door.” Their reality show on E! was an instant hit in 2005 glamorizing the gals and life in the Playboy mansion. Though they’ve since split with their Playboy beau, the three ladies have gone on to big things; Madison hit “Dancing With the Stars,” Marquardt is hosting the Travel Channel’s “Bridget’s Sexiest Beaches” and Wilkinson will soon be seen in her own spin-off E! reality series, aptly titled “Kendra.”

6. Jaime Pressley: Before she hit it big with “My Name Is Earl,” this hot and rather funny lady could be found in the pages of Playboy back in 1998. Her career has seen two Playboy shoots, an Allure spread and perennial top rankings in men’s magazine countdowns. Currently though, this mom of one is tickling funny bones as Joy on “Earl.” Pressley also makes time for some laugh-out-loud film performances like playing the stereotypical cheerleader Pricilla in “Not Another Teen Movie” and cold-as-ice Denise in “I Love You, Man.”

5. Jenny McCarthy: Long before McCarthy crusaded against autism and walked on the arm of Jim Carrey, she dropped her clothes for Playboy, earning her the 1994 Playmate of the Year title. After a few TV hosting gigs, McCarthy starred in “Scream 3” and “Scary Movie 3” alongside fellow Playboy alum Pam Anderson. Currently, rather than act, she’s been writing about her tireless effort to cure her son’s autism and taking her fight to Washington, D.C.

4. Carmen Electra: After music didn’t work out for Prince’s one-time protege, sexy Electra posed for Playboy in May of 1996, which lead to high profile television performances, including “Baywatch.” The Cincinnati gal has appeared in many movies and TV shows over the years, but perhaps her greatest work is the always entertaining 5-DVD series, “Carmen Electra’s Aerobic Striptease.” Oh, and if you’re a fan of the Naked Women’s Wrestling League, you can thank Electra for that as well.

3. Anna Nicole Smith: Smith was introduced to the American public on a Playboy cover in 1992 as Vickie Smith, a bright-eyed country girl hoping to be the next Marilyn Monroe. She was chosen as Playmate of the Year in 1993 and even followed supermodel Claudia Schiffer in a Guess jeans campaign. Smith appeared in several movies and had her own reality show on E!, “The Anna Nicole Show,” which became a template for many celeb-reality programs that air today. Smith died of a drug overdose in 2007.

2. Pamela Anderson: This Canadian blonde bombshell — who was first spotted on a jumbotron sitting in the stands at a pro football game — bared it all for Playboy in Oct. 1989 and hasn’t looked back. She was the original “Tool Time” girl on “Home Improvement” and was a standout as the gorgeous C.J. Parker on “Baywatch.” This PETA spokeswoman and sex tape star has also written two books and appeared in several movies, but most recently she stole the heart of “Borat,” and made an unforgettable cameo as herself in the film of the same name.

1. Marilyn Monroe: The original Hollywood glamour girl posed on the cover of the very first issue of Playboy in 1953. Yes, it’s true that Monroe had success in the early 1950s before the magazine was introduced, however, the nude photograph published in the mag was actually taken in 1949, one year before her movie career took off. The platinum beauty starred in many movies, dated many men and is still an icon to this day. Need we say more?

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