Erotic depictions of women in drawing, painting, sculpture and photography from the dawn of man to the present.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

American Venus: Elizabeth Ann Roberts

Miss January 1958

Twenty-one years after the death of Chabas another furore erupted in Chicago regarding public decency. Hugh Hefner had been publishing Playboy there for just over four years and the authorities had constantly tried to stop him. His Playmate of the Month for January 1958 gave them another chance to have a go at him.

Elizabeth as college girl

Rather naively, Playboy though that because a mother gave permission for her daughter to pose and because she accompanied her to the photo session no-one would care that college girl Elizabeth Ann Roberts was only 17 at the time (some even say 16 -it does look like her mother claimed she was 18). Her pictorial's title of "Schoolmate playmate" probably didn't help.

She does look pretty young

As a result both Playboy and her mother were charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Now, one of these is art and one of these is a teenage girl with a nice arse

Hefner planned to defend himself using the fact that the model for September Morn by Chabas was also a young girl (possibly only 15, as we have seen in our previous entry).

It sounds perilously close to the "it's art therefore it's permissable" defence. In this case we are not sure how well it would have worked.

In the end he didn't get the chance as the case was dropped for lack of evidence. Playboy had learned its lesson, however, and immediately insisted all its models had to be 18 years or over from then on.

Elizabeth looks pensive. Not quite sure what her mother was thinking but it probably had dollar signs in it somewhere

Would you like to twiddle my knobs?


  1. Elizabeth Ann Roberts was definitely 16, not 17, when she posed for Playboy. And Playboy actually did not require models to be 18 until a long time after that. They had Nancy Crawford as their Playmate for April 1959, and her photos were made when she was 17. Cynthia Myers was just 17 when she posed for the December 1968 issue. Playboy didn't institute an 18+ only policy for their models until 1984. But they like to rewrite history to make it seem as if they did. It would be nice if they wouldn't lie about it.

  2. For "But they like to rewrite history to make it seem as if they did."
    substitute "But they like to rewrite history to make it seem as if they had that policy right after the Roberts incident."

  3. Thanks for that! Very interesting!

  4. And we have you to thank for the "facts", as you describe them. Nice try. It scared the bejeezus out of Playboy and the 18 years policy WAS instituted immediately. Ah, internet revisionism...

  5. That's all very interesting, I like your blog ..... Thank you for the pics and the info.

  6. Raoul Duke is one of the deniers of the facts. But I have citations for what I said.

    Cynthia Myers's verified birthdate is 12 September 1950 and her photoshoot happened in June 1968 according to her own site In her interview with retroCRUSH's Randy Waage at she said: "...I was still in high school. They took my pictures at 17, but they held them until I was 18."

    Susan Bernard: In her interview in the August 1998 issue of Femme Fatales magazine, she called herself "the first under-18 Jewish virgin who was in the centerfold placed in front of a Christmas tree." Although the December 1966 issue with her pictorial was published when she was 18, she was 17 when the photos were made, by her own admission.

    Penny Baker's pictorial was published in the issue dated January 1984, only 3 months after her 18th birthday. Her photos were shot when she was 17. Vernon Scott's article "Baker hopes centerfold her shortcut to stardom" in Syracuse Herald-Journal (Syracuse, New York) on 27 December 1983 includes this sentence: "Penny, one of the last prospects interviewed, was only 17 and it was necessary to get written parental consent to pose nude after Playboy decided she was the girl they wanted."

    And these three are not the only Playboy Playmates aged under 18 who followed Elizabeth Ann Roberts.

  7. Fascinating. Thanks for this! Interestingly, when Penthouse started off in England (exactly forty-five years ago thismonth) they had no problems in publishing pictures of Pets who were only sixteen or seventeen.

    Benedikte Andersen from May 1970 was only sixteen.

    It was only after 1984, of course, that they ran into trouble with their pictures of what turned out to be the fifteen year old traci Lords.

    In the UK, topless sixteen year olds coninued to be featured in the press on The Sun's Page 3 and such like until the Sexual Offences Act 2003, which raised the age to eighteen.

  8. if these pictures were taken in 1958, they look pretty damn good... looks like someone's got some mad photoshop sklls...

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  10. Avis Kimble and Gina Goldberg were underage too.

  11. Amazing. I stumbled across this story and had to check it out. She doesn't look 16 or 17 at all to me. She looks more like early to mid 20s. But I attribute that to the fact that back then everyone was trying to look older and more mature, while nowadays teenagers - and some 20-somethings - still look like kids.

    I can't imagine any of the 17-year-olds I've known looking that mature.

  12. I think a lot of it is down to professionally applied "adult" make-up. After all many of today's fashion models are teenagers - some even younger than Miss Roberts.

  13. Where do these other pictures come from? The original pictorial only included the centerfold and various black and white pictures of her studying and the like.

  14. I also wondered where the other pictures come from. I ordered a batch of early Playboys from eBay and expected to see a slew of these pics featured in the magazine. When I didn't, I thought it was missing pages! Were these extras taken during the same shoot?

  15. Yes, they're extras from the same shoot and some never reached print anywhere. Playboy's CyberClub released outtakes from all the Playmate shoots over the Web for paying members of