Over the years a lot of hot, nude women have graced the pages of Playboy. And as much as warm-blooded folks all like getting a peek at the Playmate—dreamed up by Hugh Hefner to be the girl next door, stripped bare for your convenience—nothing has the gawk factor of celebrity skin. Movie icons, TV stars, athletes, supermodels—fans know them with their clothes on, and a lot of those fans want to see them with their clothes off.
Playboy launched in December 1953 with a celebrity on the cover and in the pages—Marilyn Monroe (who didn’t actually pose for the mag)—but the magazine really didn’t trade in famous nudity for its first couple of decades. The girls in Playboy usually had names like Phyllis and Melba, and though they were supreme beauties, they weren’t famous outside of the brand.
Around the turn of the ’80s, that changed. Playboy got hip to the value of naked famous ladies. Pictorials by Bo Derek, Barbara Carrera, and Kim Basinger were some of the earliest examples of celebrities who decided to “do Playboy,” a phrase that is now a ubiquitous suggestion for every starlet with a movie or two under her belt. By the late ’90s, Playboy was full-on addicted to celebrities. And in the absence of celebrities, the mag would run celebrity relatives, former celebrities, girls who looked like celebrities, girls who’d slept with celebrities and, of course, Playboy models who had themselves achieved some level of celebrity.
Say what you will about showing the goods, it’s still considered an honor to be asked to be in Playboy, and the famous women who’ve done it have made their fans happy and converted new ones. When the Bunny calls, it takes a certain kind of woman to heed that call—here are the 50 hottest celebrities who did.
50. Amanda Beard
Issue: July 2007
Amanda was the unquestioned American Olympic sex symbol, a belated answer to Germany’s Katarina Witt. She grew up at the games before our eyes — at her first Olympics, Atlanta ’96, she was just 14 years old. She posed nude in 2007, but not as a post-script — she made the 2008 Olympic team, and was elected co-captain with fellow hotties Dara Torres and Nancy Coughlin.
49. Shannen Doherty
Issue: March 1994, December 2003
Doherty’s pictorial hit newsstands shortly before her character, Brenda Walsh, left Beverly Hills, 90210. If you liked the bad girl, Brenda was your cup of tea. It was said that Shannen was a bit of a Brenda off camera as well, and that friction with the rest of the cast led to her dismissal. When she showed up nude in Playboy—even though it was just three pictures in a larger pictorial promoting “safe sex”—all your hopes were confirmed. Such a bad girl.
48. Lindsay Lohan
Issue: January/February 2012
America had mixed emotions when the news broke that Lindsay would be posing for Playboy. Her reckless lifestyle, they said, was ruining her looks, and the pictorial could be a train wreck. Well, that just wasn’t the case, and Lindsay’s tribute to Marilyn Monroe was perfectly sexy.
47. Drew Barrymore
Issue: January 1995
Drew was just 19 when she posed for Playboy, but she’d already lived a rock-star life. And not the good kind of rock-star life—she was going to Studio 54 and doing coke as a pre-teen. She got her shit together, though, and today is a bankable star, but in 1995 she was still a wild child. It was around this time, you may recall, that she flashed birthday boy David Letterman on his talk show.
Issue: May 1985, April 1988
You have to hand it to Prince—dude knows beauty when he sees it. He discovered Denise Matthews, gave her a cool stage name, and put her in a group called Vanity 6 (they had a hit with the song “Nasty Girl”). It all eventually landed Vanity, as she was called by The Purple One, a couple spreads in Playboy.
Years later, another Prince protege, Carmen Electra, would prove even more successful.
45. Lizzy Jagger
Issue: June 2011
In the real world, Mick Jagger would probably punch your lights out for wanting to see his daughter naked. Thanks to Playboy, you can do this without the confrontation. As a bonus, you can see her mom Jerry Hall’s own spread from 1985.
44. Farrah Fawcett
Issue: December 1995, July 1997
Farrah was an icon of the ’70s thanks to a poster that sold 12 million units and the alpha-babe role on Charlie’s Angels, but she resisted requests for nudity all her career—until, at age 48, she decided to get naked for Playboy. (She had appeared on the cover 17 years earlier, but was not nude in the interior pages.)
43. Diora Baird
Issue: August 2005
In the 21st century, celebrity can be a tricky thing to define, especially in light of reality TV and lad-mag-inspired model fanaticism. So, Diora Baird, a woman famous for being stunningly beautiful and enthusiastically naked.
She got the cover of Playboy seven years ago and turned in one of the best pictorials of the era, all based on the faith that she was going to be a huge star. She’s not a huge star by any objective measure, but she’s a huge star to us.
42. Tricia Helfer
Issue: February 2007
Geeks everywhere rejoiced in 2007 when they spotted their favorite Battlestar Galactica humanoid cylon on the cover. It brought a whole new dimension to the idea of “frak-ing.”
Issue: September 1985
Before Madonna was “Madonna” she was just a woman trying to make it and needed cash. When she found her fame and was on the verge of a film career in 1985, some old nude photos were released in the magazine. The “Like a Virgin” star refused to apologize and graced the cover of this iconic issue.
40. Kiana Tom
Issue: May 2002
In the mid- and late-’90s, Tom hosted a very popular exercise program on ESPN, and a lot of people who watched it weren’t exercising at all. She was gorgeous, and she didn’t mind trading on it. After all, her show was called Kiana Tom’s Flex Appeal. She knew exactly what she was doing, and so did Playboy—the cover line “ESPN Fitness Guru Kiana Tom: Get Hard in Six Seconds” is one of the least subtle the magazine has ever run. And that’s saying something.
39. Daryl Hannah
Issue: November 2003
Daryl Hannah’s career got a revamping in 2003 when she starred in the revenge flick Kill Bill. But the cover itself makes us nostalgic for her mermaid days in Splash.
38. Winter Zoli
Issue: March 2011
Zoli plays an adult film star in the FX hit Sons of Anarchy, so she says she was prepared for her Playboy shoot. She appears topless on the cover of March 2011 issue, in which she admitted, “It turns out nudity is not a problem for me.” And it wasn’t a problem for the thousands who picked up the mag.
37. Charisma Carpenter
Issue: June 2004
The perfectly-named Charisma Carpenter had gained fans on the strength of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spinoff Angel, but a career as a movie star or TV lead never came to fruition.
Playboy didn’t know that in 2004; at that time, Carpenter’s run on Angel was wrapping up and she was making all the “hot babe” lists. She seemed to be on the way up. And she looked beautiful.
36. Leeann Tweeden
Issue: August 1996, December 2011
Leeann was on the cover of the magazine in 1996, and appeared inside within a pictorial about the “hardbody” girls of ESPN. And she was sporting what would come to be known, a decade later, as a “hair bra.” Disappointed readers were thankful years later, in 2011. In the meantime, Tweeden had risen to prominence as a correspondent for The Best Damn Sports Show Period.
35. Aubrey O’Day
Issue: March 2009
Aubrey O’Day has more than proven she deserves a solo career. At the height of the drama surrounding Danity Kane’s break-up, O’Day stripped it all off for Hugh Hefner and made us forget that there even were other girls in Diddy’s foursome.
34. Olivia Munn
Issue: July/August 2009
Olivia didn’t go nude in her Playboy cover pictorial—readers had to wait a few years, for those famous leaked cell phone pictures. But it was still a sexy shoot, and Playboy got her when she was still a geek phenomenon. That hasn’t always been the magazine’s strong suit, as the American institution often favors getting an established star on her way down over placing a risky bet on a woman who seems to be on the rise.
Credit where credit’s due: The magazine made the right play by putting Munn on the cover. Only a year behind Complex, too.
33. Kristy Swanson
Issue: November 2002
Kristy Swanson made fanboys’ dream come true when the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer appeared in the buff for the magazine. Even with no clothes on, she still slays us.
32. Nicole “Coco” Austin
Issue: March 2008
Coco’s star was on the rise when she posed for Playboy’s annual music issue, but Ice Loves Coco was still three years off. In hindsight, she should have gotten the cover. Of course, in hindsight, Coco gets whatever she wants.
31. Sherilyn Fenn
Issue: December 1990
When it comes to nudity, timing isn’t necessarily everything—unless you’re talking about celebrity. Playboy did a shoot with Fenn in December 1990, smack-dab in the middle of Twin Peaks’ run. At the time, she was the femme fatale on TV’s hottest show. You can’t do much better than that.
30. Barbara Carrera
Issue: March 1982
This Nicaraguan temptress had made several films in the ’70s and would go on to be a Bond Girl (Never Say Never Again) and a regular on Dallas. But in ’82 she was promoting I, the Jury, a film starring Armand Assante as Detective Mike Hammer. Critics were lukewarm on the movie, but the verdict on Barbara among Playboy readers was unanimous.
29. Traci Bingham
Issue: June 1998
Traci Bingham covered Playboy just once, in a composite picture with other Baywatch actress, but her nude pictures were featured in the mag on several occasions. Some international editions had the good sense to give her the coveted spot all to herself: Italy, Japan, Poland, the Netherlands. And Germany did so twice.
28. Eva Herzigova
Issue: August 2004
Eva Herzigova made a name for herself in 1994 as the face of the Wonderbra. In the iconic advertisement she wore a black bra and a smile, accompanied by the words “HELLO, BOYS.” When that’s your debut, what do you do for an encore? How do you say “Hello” again with any impact? The solution was clear.
27. Sharon Stone
Issue: July 1990, December 1992
In 1990, two years before she showed off her goods in Basic Instinct, Stone’s career took off after appearing in Total Recall. What gave this film the attention it deserved? Stone coincided the film’s release with the release of the July 1990 Playboy issue.
26. Garcelle Beauvais
Issue: August 2007
Beauvais was a successful model for several years before landing the role that made her famous: Fancy Monroe, object of the protagonist’s affection on The Jamie Foxx Show, which ran from 1996-2001. She went on to be a regular on NYPD Blue. At the age of 40, she appeared in Playboy, and it was worth the wait.
25. Denise Richards
Issue: December 2004
Back in December 2004, Richards was still with Charlie Sheen and she had just given birth to their daughter five months before that. She proved that women can still be unbelievably sexy after childbirth, and Charlie Sheen isn’t really a winner after losing her.
24. Arianny Celeste
Issue: November 2010
Ever since professional wrestling and Playboy got together, thanks to a girl named Rena Mero (better known as Sable), the mag has been able to count on fans of grappling for blockbuster issues.
Professional wrestling is fake, we do know that, but we’re pretty sure a lot of WWE fans grew into MMA fans. Female wrestlers were elbowed out by Ring Girls, and the one that every fight fan was waiting for was Arianny Celeste.
23. Joanna Krupa
Issue: July 2005, December 2009
There was a very clear war being waged in the late ’90s and early 2000s: Playboy vs. the “lad mags” Maxim and FHM. And while the lad mags chewed away at the Bunny’s circulation, the conflict did have one interesting spinoff phenomenon: Maxim and FHM expended a lot of energy turning models into celebrities and then Playboy swooped in and got them to take their clothes off.
Joanna Krupa was one of two prime examples (the other being Vida Guerra). A Polish swimsuit and lingerie model who started making Maxim and FHM hot lists, Krupa was never a bona fide celebrity. Until Playboy stepped in.
22. Rachel Hunter
Issue: April 2004
Before satiating us with her Playboy pictorial, the swimsuit model teased our former MTV-viewing teen selves with a one piece in the hot mom anthem “Stacy’s Mom.”
21. Stephanie Seymour
Issue: March 1991, February 1993
Stephanie is one of a few representatives from the golden age of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue to make this list. Her colleagues included Elle MacPherson, Rachel Hunter, and Cindy Crawford.
Seymour was the wild child. Her two Playboy appearances almost line up with her tumultuous two-year relationship with Axl Rose, possibly the least dateable man in rock and roll at the time. It did not end amicably.
20. Naomi Campbell
Issue: December 1999
There are two types of men in this world: dreamers and realists. When the realists were writing out their Christmas list in 1999, Naomi Campbell’s Playboy issue was number one. The dreamers just put Naomi Campbell, one of the top models of the decade, in white gift wrap.
19. Carmen Electra
Issue: April 2003, January 2009
Carmen Electra has posed for the magazine a few times, but 2009 was her golden year. For their 55th anniversary issue, Playboy gave Electra the cover spot and made the world toast to 55 more years.
18. Robin Givens
Issue: September 1994
The woman who captured Mike Tyson’s heart was at one point considered “the most hated woman in America.” Hate is a strong emotion— o is lust. Even though her Playboy pictorial happened five years after her split with Tyson, public opinion was still mixed.
17. Dita Von Teese
Issue: December 2002
The sexy burlesque dancer, famous for her relationship with Marilyn Manson, posed for the mag several times, but this was her first cover. The picture-perfect pin-up apparently got the inspiration to become a glamor modeled thanks to perusing her dad’s old issues of Playboy.
Fun fact: for her cover, the publication required her to have a surname. She chose Von Treese out of a phonebook, which Playboy misspelled, giving her the name Dita Von Teese. She stuck with it.
16. Kelly Brook
Issue: September 2010
Among all the titles listed for Brook, including actress, entrepreneur, and presenter, Brook is also noted as a “Playboy model.” That’s because this sexy English import crushed it with what is undeniably one of the most unforgettable Playboy spreads in the publication’s history.
15. Brooke Burke
Issue: May 2001, November 2004
In 2001, Brooke Burke found her fame on E!’s Wild On, and seeing her present Dancing With the Stars in her skimpy outfits has probably brought back some of your old fantasies of the television host. Just like that, your worries fluttered away like the sheet Burke used to cover herself in her November 2004 issue.
14. Katarina Witt
Issue: December 1998
Katarina Witt will go down in history as a great Olympic figure skater. Athletes and Playboy can be a tricky fit, as the superfit women often don’t fit the aesthetics of the mag. But not Witt. Although there is no doubt she was in excellent shape, she was also perfectly shapely.
13. Jenny McCarthy
Issue: June 1994, July 1996, December 1996, September 1997, January 2005, July 2012
There are the women who appear in Playboy based on their achievements, and then there are the women who emerge from America to become girl-next-door sex symbols. Those are the Playmates. And every so often, a Playmate breaks through to the next level and becomes a celebrity.
Jenny McCarthy did it as well as anyone, going from a phenomenally popular Playmate pictorial to Playmate of the Year and then on to MTV’s Singled Out. More than eye candy, she proved to be damn funny as well, going on to apear in BASEketball (1998) and Scary Movie 3 (2002). But she never turned her back on Playboy, returning to do her latest pictorial (and sixth cover) just last year at the age of 39.
12. Vida Guerra
Issue: July 2006
Vida Guerra made the most of what she had, parlaying a few photos in FHM into a full-blown career as a magazine model. What does a girl do when she’s gone as far as she can with Maxim and FHM? She goes full monty for Playboy. The issue was one of the best-sellers of the 21st century.
11. Kim Kardashian
Issue: December 2007
As a way to own her sexuality, which was put on display after her sex tape leaked, Kardashian posed for Playboy. Clearly not hide anything from the cameras, the photo shoot was documented in her reality series, Keeping Up With the Kardashians.
10. Stacey Dash
Issue: August 2006
While Dash wasn’t on the cover, the mere mention of her name in the Contents section had us flipping to her spread ASAP. No pun intended. This was stark change from the crazy overalls and Mad Hatter hats we got used to seeing her in on Clueless.
9. Ursula Andress
Issue: June 1965, December 1981
In 1964, Andress won a Golden Globe for New Star of the Year for her role as the Bond girl, Honey Rider. In 1965, the biggest sex symbol of the ’60s first showed off her golden globes inside the pages of Playboy. When asked why she did the spread, she simply replied, “Because I’m beautiful.”
8. Pamela Anderson
Issue: October 1989, February 1991, July 1992, August 1993, November 1994, January 1996, September 1997, June 1998, February 1999, July 2001, May 2004, January 2007, January 2011
Blonde bombshell Anderson has been posing for Playboy for three decades. She’s also been on more covers for the magazine than any other person, so picking one was a challenge and a privilege. Her tongue-in-cheek January 2007 shoot (pictured above) pretty much epitomizes her relationship with the brand.
7. Tia Carrere
Issue: January 2003
Carrere boasts Chinese/Spanish/Filipino heritage, and hails from Hawaii. She exploded in the early ’90s with parts in Rising Sun, True Lies, and Wayne’s World. Appearing nude was on the table throughout her career, but she balked. Then after a divorce in 2000, she posed for the Bunny.
6. Raquel Welch
Issue: December 1979
As a gift to Playboy subscribers, Raquel Welch appeared on their December issue in 1979. The sex symbol, in her tight red swimsuit, always left things to the imagination, even in the issue.
5. Jayne Mansfield
Issue: February 1955, June 1963
Mansfield’s peek-a-boo cover in 1963 defines the sexuality of the era: you had to be sneaky about it. Inside the issue was Mansfield and all of her blessings. It’s still hard to beat the sex appeal radiated by this risque actress, who was also Miss February 1955.
4. Kim Basinger
Issue: February 1983
Playboy knew they had a winner on their hands in Kim — she was a hugely successful model who hadn’t quite hit her stride as an actress, but that was a veritable certainty with her then-upcoming turn as a Bond girl opposite Sean Connery in Never Say Never Again. The magazine pulled out all the stops, running a mega-profile that enlisted the expertise of Bob Fosse, Roger Vadim, George Plimpton, and Connery himself.
3. Elle Macpherson
Issue: May 1994
In 1994, Macpherson showed off the reason why her nickname is “The Body.” The cover showed the model in pantyhose and only “Elle” and Playboy in print. The pose was a tribute to a famous photo of Brigitte Bardot from the ’60s.
2. Bo Derek
Issue: March 1980, August 1980, September 1981, July 1984, December 1994
By 1984, Bo Derek was already the star of men’s fantasies worldwide, thanks to her previous Playboy shoots and her breakthrough role in 10. It was when she posed as a cowboy sucking a cigar that men realized they’d be okay with a little role reversal and they’d love to be her “damsel in distress.”
1. Cindy Crawford
Issue: July 1988, May 1996, October 1998
In July of 1988 (and again in ’96 and ’98), Cindy Crawford decided to model her birthday suit instead of her typical high fashion designer clothing. We’d have to say the former looks exceptionally great on her.