Cynthia Myers was Playboy Magazine’s Miss December, 1968. She was voted the 10th Most Popular Playmate of the Century by Playboy Magazine. She’s also been featured in Playboy’s Playmate Calendars – 1970, 1971 and 1972.
Gary James – Cynthia, I would guess that if a woman was going to be in Playboy, the 1960s would’ve been that time. A Playboy Playmate was something unique. In today’s world there are so many men’s magazines and of course you have the internet. What do you think of my assessment?
Cynthia Myers – With the invention of the internet, that competition, when a man can sit down and have access to millions of beautiful pictures, free, just at the click of a mouse – how do you compete with that? In those days you had to be naturally beautiful, from top to bottom. You couldn’t just have a pretty face and go out and order the set of breasts you want, to artificially enhance and match everything else. You had to come up to their standards, without any artificial help from doctors.
Gary James – Had your father not died when you were young, would he have given his approval for you to pose for Playboy? Did that thought ever run through your mind?
Cynthia Myers – No, because I was so young, I didn’t have the opportunity to know him that well. I was only in kindergarten. I know he was a disciplinarian. Whenever I did something wrong, which would be like go out and catch snakes and not come it for dinner on time because I’d be down by the river catching turtles, I’d be spanked by him. But, no. I don’t know. I read this recently about another Playmate, that it was her grandmother that was more enthusiastic than her mother. I said yes, but mother was really ambivalent about it, but my grandmother said “Oh, this is a chance of a lifetime. She’ll be able to travel and do things that she normally wouldn’t get a chance to do.” So, my grandmother was the deciding factor there. And of course, I had to have their signature because I was under-age then.
Gary James – You started getting modeling offers when you were fourteen years old. How were you approached to do that? Were you approached on the street or did you go into a modeling agency?
Cynthia – No. I was approached and I loved the water. I was swimming a lot in a two-piece. People would come up and ask to photograph me and ask if I’d be interested in modeling. I was still in school. I was very flattered but I couldn’t follow through with still being in school. But, it was very flattering. Then a lot of people would say “you should be in Playboy Magazine.” I heard that so many times that after hearing it about a thousand times, I thought – well maybe I should! Everybody said “you should let Playboy know you’re out there!”
Gary James – And you did!
Cynthia Myers – Yeah. I did.
Gary James – Did you approach Playboy then?
Cynthia Myers – No. I was coming out of a swimming pool. I was on a semester break from school. I came out of a swimming pool in Miami Beach and a photographer asked me if he could take my photo. I said “OK.” The next day I was on the front page of the Miami Herald. It was very flattering. It was very nice. I sent some pictures into Playboy that a friend took. While I was in Florida, I talked to my mother every day to let her know I was safe and I was with another girl from school and we were having a nice time. She said “Playboy Magazine called.” She said they’re interesting in my flying there for test photos. This came from just a fleeting fancy of a thought into starting to become reality. Then I got a little nervous and my mother and grandparents got nervous. Actually, my grandparents weren’t that nervous. They knew a huge company like Playboy would take very good care of their people and everything would be above board and very business-like and I’d be well looked after and chaperoned.
Gary James – It’s one thing to be photographed in a two-piece bathing suit. It’s another thing to be photographed topless. What did the photographer say to you when it was time to remove your top?
Cynthia Myers – It was no big surprise. I had been looking at Playboy for the last few months and I knew that it would be topless. That’s when the reality set in that I have to be professional about this. I can’t go there and pretend like “Oh, you want me to take my top off?” Like I didn’t know. I have to be mature about it. I hear stories about these girls going “and he (the photographer) had to coax me for two hours to drop my robe.” Well, I find that hard to believe. You know what you’re walking into. If you’re going for a job interview and you’re accepted and your first day on the job is to be a computer programmer and they sit you in front of a computer and you act surprised – well, that doesn’t make any sense. You know what the job entails, because you’ve researched it, you’ve enquired about it. I don’t know why girls would say “Geez, I couldn’t take my top off.” You don’t go into a professional setting like that and have fifteen people standing around and you say, “No. I’ve changed my mind.” I’m sure some have. But, I don’t think they’ve gone right up to the photo shoot and said “No. I’m going home.”
Gary James – And after you appeared in the pages of Playboy, they sent you out on a promotional tour, did they? Car shows? Ribbon cutting ceremonies?
Cynthia Myersa – Yeah. Radio programs. It was a lot of fun. I had to go back and finish school.
Gary James – By school, you mean high school?
Cynthia – Yes. I was riding in horse shows and I had to give that up because once I walked through that door, my life changed. That’s the reason deep down I think why my mother didn’t want me to do it. She knew that I’d be traveling and my life… I wouldn’t be home as much. She was hoping I’d marry the nice boy down the street or in the neighborhood and raise a family, and be close to home. It was bitter sweet, but I did try to get home as much as I could. And when I was in Chicago, I did. It’s not the same.
Gary James – How was the money you’d get to go out and do those promotional tours?
Cynthia – It was very good pay. It wouldn’t be great by today’s standards of course. But, it was very good pay. Here I’d just been working in after school jobs and making extra money to pay for the horse shows I went to. So, when you’re getting paid twenty times more than that, that’s very nice.
Gary James – What did you think would happen when the magazine came out? Did you envision an acting career or a continuance of your modeling career?
Cynthia – I remember my Playboy interview and I did mention I wanted to become an actress. One of the jobs I did have after school was I was an usher in a theatre, ‘cause I love the movies so much. I thought, wouldn’t it be nice if that kind of dream would come true. Then, it was right in the middle of the Vietnam War and I got so many letters from soldiers. I tried to answer every letter that I got. I spent a lot of time doing that. Then there was the political convention in Chicago at the same time and I met Burt Lancaster. He said his friend was doing a film and would I be interested in having a part, a small part to be on a set and work with some prestigious people and Warner Brothers. His friend was Sidney Pollock. I had a small role in They Shoot Horses Don’t They. So there I was offered a part in a movie without even asking and that was very nice.
Gary James – Did you pursue acting then?
Cynthia – Well, yes I did. I worked three months on that film. One of the actors was Bruce Dern. Bruce Dern taught acting at the Actors And Directors Lab in Beverly Hills. He encouraged me to study. I joined that Actors And Directors Lab and studied there with him.
Gary James – Did you ever go to college?
Cynthia – I wanted to. It would be an impossibility to fulfill the contract with Playboy for the promotional tours, act in films and go to college at the same time. Russ Meyer had been trying to get in touch with me and I didn’t know that he had. Then Hugh Hefner was doing the Playboy After Dark t.v. show and he asked me if I’d like to be a regular on that television program. Everything happened so quickly. I was committed to doing the Playboy After Dark Show. There were so many people coming on that show that I was introduced to and became friends with. It was sort of like networking at an unbelievable level.
Gary James – Did you ever meet Frank Sinatra?
Cynthia – Yes, I did.
Gary James – Where did you meet him?
Cynthia – I met him at a party for Rosalind Russell. Rod Steiger asked me if I’d like to go to the party. Of course these are people that are iconic. So, I went to a private party in honor of her, and he was there.
Gary James – How did you find Sinatra to be?
Cynthia – He was very pleasant and a gentleman. Reserved. I think he was reserved because he was used to so many people clamoring after him and being demanding. I think people respected the fact that he wants to be a little quiet sometimes. He doesn’t want to be the center of attention. He was just another nice person at the event.
Gary James – How about Elvis?
Cynthia – Oh, I was supposed to meet him. One of his people, Red somebody.,,
Gary James – Red West.
Cynthia – Yes. He said “My boss loves beautiful brunettes. I know that he would love to meet you.” He told me it was Elvis. I was in Las Vegas, in a casino, visiting. He showed me a back elevator, a service elevator. He told me, “I’d like to take you up there. He’d be delighted to meet you. There’s a group of people up there. They’re all nice people. You are Elvis’ type. He would really thank me if I brought you up to be introduced to.” And I almost did it, and I chickened out.
Gary James – You chickened out?
Cynthia Myers – I wish I wouldn’t have.
Gary James – What was going through your mind?
Cynthia Myers – I got scared.
Gary James – Scared of…?
Cynthia Myers – I don’t know. I was just overwhelmed. I wish I wouldn’t have. I was so young. So young. It just seemed like a matter of months that I came from cleaning out my locker in high school and returning my books to the library and months later people are asking me to go upstairs and see Elvis. I’m going, oh my God. All these things are running through my head. My mother said “Please be careful! Remember to say please and thank-you. Always act like a lady.” I didn’t have any ammunition for the world. (laughs) I was still a kid.
Gary James – And here you had something in common with Elvis; he too was an usher at a theatre while in high school.
Cynthia Myers – I didn’t know that. I’ll be darned.
Gary James – And Elvis was a Southern gentleman.
Cynthia Myers – Yes. I have always heard that. I would’ve been perfectly alright. I would have been treated like a queen. Red said, “You’ll be treated like a queen. Don’t be worried. You’re not going to his room and somebody’s gonna lock you in there. There’s just a nice group of people. For obvious reasons, Elvis can’t come down here.” I wish I would’ve gone.
Gary James – Did you ever meet The Beatles?
Cynthia Myers – No.
Gary James – As you look back on your life, are you glad you posed for Playboy?
Cynthia – Yes, it’s become more a part of my life than I ever thought it would be, and then the close friendship with Mr. Hefner. I go to his birthday parties. Saw him New Years Night and I go up to the people I’ve known all through the years. They’ve seen me sort of grow up. The two men I worked for and became good friends with made such huge footprints in American society were Russ Meyer and Hugh Hefner. I attribute coming from a rather small town in Ohio that kept my feet on the ground. It kind of kept me rooted. I just always thought as long as I don’t do anything my mother wouldn’t approve of, I’ll be OK. I was so scared. I probably lost out on a lot of opportunities because I would just shy away. But, it’s all been interesting.
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