Whatever Happened to Susan Kiger?

Most red-blooded American males remember their first Playboy magazine, and of course, that issue's Playmate of the Month. She's a girl we'll never forget. Some went on to further their careers in the spotlight, (such as Pamela Anderson and Jenny McCarthy) while most others seem to have faded away into obscurity.

I was far too young to buy a copy of the January 1977 issue of Playboy at the time it hit the newsstands, so I creatively acquired it with the help of a friend's older brother. Miss January 1977 was Susan Lynn Kiger, who went on to have a brief acting career after her gatefold appearance, as well as being featured in and on the covers of a few subsequent issues of Playboy.

Susan (pictured at right from a 1977 Playboy cover shoot) also holds the distinction of being the only Playmate to have appeared in a porn film before becoming a Playmate. (The film was 1976's Deadly Love and those of you thinking Susan wasn't the only one, I'll correctly inform you here and now: No, Miss April 1986 Teri Weigel did porn after she became a Playmate.) Susan's post-Playmate acting credits consisted of a few TV shows and low-budget movies, most notably the 1979 T&A comedy H.O.T.S., alongside fellow Playmates Pamela Bryant and Sandy Johnson. She also had a small part in the 1980 film Galaxina, which starred another of her fellow Playmates, the ill-fated Dorothy Stratten. Oh, and I'm refraining from using the term "former" Playmates here because according to Playboy (meaning Hugh Hefner); "once a Playmate, always a Playmate."

Besides the acting roles listed at her IMDb, Susan was also one of the voice actors on the 1981 comedy album The First Family Rides Again, which was a parody of then-President Regan's family. Her last film appearance was in the 1982 slasher Death Screams aka House of Death. Since then, she's seemed to have slipped clean off the radar. According to Susan's IMDb bio, she's now working as a hair stylist in no specific city in Southern California. It's safe to say that she's still alive and well as of this writing, because Playboy sort of keeps tabs on all of their past Playmates and, even though they respect the privacy of those who want to live private lives, if a death occurs, they'll report it.

My research has revealed Susan's probable current and former married names, as well as the name of her current business, and what city it's in, but out of respect for her privacy, I won't reveal that info here and I have made no attempt to contact her. If she's reading this, I would very much welcome a message from her, but I assume there's a slim chance of that happening, as it seems apparent that she wishes to stay away from the public eye. So, until I know for certain why Playboy's Miss January 1977 suddenly left and has remained out of show biz since the early 80s, and what she's done since leaving the spotlight, she'll remain in my "Whatever Happened to..?" file.

Very rare photo of Susan adorning the 1966 Batmobile, circa 1976.
(Thanks to A. Pennyworth of 1966Batmobile.com)

(Left to right) Susan, Lisa London, Pamela Bryant, and Kimberly Cameron as the founding members of H.O.T.S.; a group who were sort of an "alternative" sorority. At first, the name appeared to be an acronym of the four ladies' initials. A rival from another sorority believed it stood for "Hold On To Sex," but the girls stated later in the film that it stood for "Help Out The Seals."

With Jacqueline Cole (credited in this and most of her other roles as Jacqulin Cole) in the 1979 action film Angels' Brigade (also know as Angels Revenge and Seven From Heaven). Directed by Greydon Clark, this film also has touches of comedy and has since become a minor cult classic. Besides Susan, among the cast are a few other ladies who now reside in the "Whatever Happened to..?" file.

As Susie in the 1980 T&A comedy, The Happy Hooker Goes to Hollywood

As "Blue Girl" in the brothel scene from 1980's Galaxina. A very small part for Susan, considering she'd already established herself as a fairly good draw among Playboy readers after her starring role in H.O.T.S. However, Galaxina was the then-newly-crowned Playmate of the Year Dorothy Stratten's star vehicle and the film had no other prominent female part for Susan. I've wondered; if Dorothy had turned down the project or had been killed before it started production, perhaps it still would have been made with Susan in the title role instead.

As Lily Carpenter in Death Screams. Released in May of 1982, this was Susan's last film.
While it was one of her best acting jobs, it wasn't one of her more memorable roles.

Her January 1977 centerfold, photographed by Ken Marcus

January 2014 Update:

38 comments :

  1. Guess she'd be almost 60 today? And RIP Pam Bryant.

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    1. Susan turned 59 on November 16. And yes, Pamela Bryant died from an asthma attack on December 4, 2010. She was 51.

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  2. It's odd for someone to drop out of sight so very quickly. One can only hope it was for all the right reasons(a good marriage to a wealty guy?) rather than drugs or some other occupational hazard. She didn't seem the hair stylist type. Beautiful girl.

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    1. I knew Susan. We worked together on one of those "Battle of The Network stars shows. She was so damn sweet and unassuming, I couldn't believe it. We dated once, but never after that one time. My only connection with her after that was by phone. She was/is very sweet. A perfect Playboy rep. I guess the best way to contact her is through Heffner. He never loses touch with these ladies. I remember she was without a chip on her shoulder. She was/is gracious. Never met a woman as sensuous as she.

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    2. Thanks for your comments, Anon, but I have to take them with a grain of salt because Susan never competed in any of the Battle of the Network Stars shows. She wouldn't have been eligible because, although she made appearances on some popular TV shows during her heyday, she never starred in any.

      Maybe you mean she worked on a BOTNS show in some other capacity? If so, please elaborate. Also, if you took any photos of or with her and would be so kind as to share them here (as my friend Tony did), it would be greatly appreciated.

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  3. Truly, one of the most beautiful playmates ever. She seemed to have some capability to do more than be just a playmate, but, you can never know what someone is really like by looking at their picture. Susan could fill your head with all kinds of fantasies. It would be a hoot for her to give an interview and talk about the porn film, her Playboy experience and her movie and TV parts.

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    1. My guess is that Susan got married at around 30 and just opted to settle down into a domestic life away from show biz. Hopefully, someone who knows her personally (or better yet; Susan herself) will read this piece and contact me with some information on whatever became of her, which could hopefully lead to that interview.

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  4. So strange, I just found out today that this lady (Susan Kiger, and of course Patty Kiger) is my grandmother's cousin - that would make her my third cousin? Weird, I've seen my third cousin VERY naked.

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    1. That would make Susan your first cousin twice removed, Christine. If you have any contact with her and can share some info on what she's doing these days or think she just might be willing to do an interview, please click on the "Contact" tab and send me a message.

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  5. I was lucky enough to meet her and get her autograph (the only Playmate autograph I have). She was here in Kansas City with Cheri Caffaro and another of the HOTS actresses doing a promotion for the movie. They were at Hallmarks Crown Center, and the even had a hot air balloon. She was very sweet and very tall. It's funny but the one thing I remember is she had quite a bit of hair on her upper lip that stood out in the sun light.(a side effect of birth control hormones).
    I would love to hear what's she's doing today! Thank you for this!

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    1. Ahh yes, Cheri Caffaro, of the "Ginger" movies fame, was credited as one of the writers and producers of H.O.T.S. She's another one for the "Whatever Happened to.." file, but she didn't seem to drop out of sight until about 15 years after Susan did. According to Cheri's IMDb bio, her last credit was providing the voice for a character in a 1997 cartoon series and she now lives in LA and raises honey bees. Hmmm ....Susan's character in H.O.T.S. was named "Honey." Is there a connection there??

      Anyway, glad this piece brought back a fond memory for you, Dale. Did you happen to take any photos or still have what Susan signed for you at that promotion?

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    2. I moved to San Diego in 1983 and found Susan working as the membership salesperson at a local fitness club. She still looked good. After making a few friends on the staff I asked about her and was told she was living with a black guy in the area.

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    3. Yes, some research I did indicated Susan lived in San Diego at some point. Perhaps she still does. Any further info you may have would be appreciated.

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    4. I still have her centerfold (somewhere) She signed it:"To Dale, I have eyes for you". (in reference to her highlighted baby blues on that pic)

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  6. I knew Susan before she became famous. I had given her a cat named Samatha back in Long Beach California circa 1974. Susan was working at Charlie Browns at the time as a cocktail waitress....l always wondered what happened to that lucky cat.....

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    1. Did the math on that and Susan wouldn't have turned 21 until November of '74. Have to be at least 21 to serve alcohol in a bar in California, but 18-20 year-olds could serve it if the place was a bona fide restaurant, which Charley Brown's was, so that checks out.

      Anyway Anon, since you say you've always wondered what happened to Samantha, I assume that means you've lost touch with Susan over the years?

      Oh by the way, the Long Beach Charley Brown's is long gone as is Samantha of course, but I'd say she definitely lived a full and happy life with Susan as her owner.

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    2. I was actually lucky enough to meet her in San Diego in the early 80s. We became friends and dated for a while. I regret that I too lost touch with her. She was very charming, gracious and fun to be around. I too hope that she found a very lucky man and settled down with him.

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    3. Late reply here Anon, but if you have or took any photos of Susan from the time you say you dated her, and would be willing to share, please contact me.

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  7. Susan was hired by Buck Stop Lure Co Inc in late 1977 to be a company spokesperson as BAMBI, she attended various hunting trade shows, signing posters, and copy's of her Playboy center fold. At times there would be over 300 guys in line waiting. She was a crowd pleaser and very personal with each customer. Working with Susan was a pleasure. I still have boxes of posters of her. Sadly time and age runs its course. The company has tried several times to use a different girl as BAMBI. But there was only one Susan Kiger. Wishing Susan all the Best

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    1. I see Buck Stop is still in business and it seems like the most recent poster girl they had was a lady named Jessica Fritz, who isn't featured at their site and may no longer be with the company. Anyway Anon, if you ever decide to part with any of those posters or come up with any more info on Susan, please let me know!

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  8. i met her in '78 and took several pix with her and of her. How do i post them here?

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    1. Well if that's true, scroll up to the top of the page, click on "Contact" and send me a message with the info (Are the photos already online, just on your computer, or not yet on your computer?) and we will make it happen. I'll make an addition to this article that will include your photos and give you credit.

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  9. I have a 1978 calendar in my garage I inherited from my uncle, that's open to her month. She was the most beautiful of that year's dozen. I'm def bookmarking this article in case you do get some info on what she's doing these days.

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  10. I got the Playboy Playmate book in 1996. It has pictures of the Playmates through the decades. When I got to Susan Kiger, the last they had heard from her, she was living
    in the San Diego area. One playmate who might know where Susan is, is Laura Lyons.
    (Miss February 1976) They appeared together in Playboy's Playmate House Party pictorial
    (December 1977), and Way Down West in Mexico. (February 1978) They both grew up
    in the Los Angeles area, and Laura Lyons still lives in the area. Laura sometimes comes
    to Glamourcon, as a participant. Laura along with Hef, are the only two, who might know.
    If they don't, no one does.

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    1. Anon, as I mentioned, some research has revealed where Susan is and what she's currently doing, so it's more a question of why she left show biz in the early 80s, when she had a promising career underway, and why she's stayed away from the spotlight ever since. A Google search of her name will will yield this article at the top of the results (usually right after her Wikipedia and IMDb pages), so, unless she's the type who stays off the Internet, she's most likely seen this, as well as this article, and knows a word from her would be very welcome. I assume she just chooses not to respond for whatever her reasons are and I can respect that.

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    2. Susan was my older brother's first girlfriend in high school. Her brother was one of his best friends, and was also my sister's boyfriend. I had a crush on him for the longest time!
      Great looks ran in their family.

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    3. Oh, regarding above, I'm not sure what happened to Suzy either. I'll ask my brother next time we talk. I was just looking her up to show my son his uncle's high school gf.

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    4. ^ Thanks for commenting, Anon. Please do ask your brother! Sounds like you have some very fond memories of those times. If you or anyone you know, took any photos of Susan and would like to share them (publicly or privately), please feel free to contact me.

      As I previously mentioned, research has revealed to me where Susan is and what she's doing these days, and almost anyone else can access the sources I did to get that same info on her. It just seems that Susan, for whatever her reasons are, wants to remain out of the spotlight.

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  11. To those that mention the "sweet" factor and the "wonder why she disappeared?" contingent:

    Guys, understand something, if a woman truly was unassuming and "sweet" she wouldn't come off the way Susan Kiger has in all her pictorials/films – and here’s why: As men, we all break women down into 2 categories:

    1. pure lust
    2. sweet/innocent

    (news-flash - they do the same with guys; "take me you beast… then get out of here” or "marriage material”.)

    Susan Kiger has always come off as pure lust…she has never, ever in my mind come off as sweet or innocent.

    But-she's still a woman ...and many women do all kinds of things when they're young they later come to regret it. Why? 99.9% of all women later want to have children. For some odd reason women don't project into the future they may raise a family – who will later know what they did. No matter how much B.S. you hear on tv (“Oh yeah - my kid knows and he’s fine with it” etc.) people are human. They’re get freaked by this.

    “Well so-what? it's just playboy...that's largely accepted as tasteful by everyone - it's not porn." But…

    She did do porn - as has largely been reported on this site, wikipedia and everywhere online. Which, bolsters my debunking of this "sweet, innocent, unassuming Ms. Kiger" myth: The day you get in front of a camera and start blowing some hairy dude, hard-core, is the day "sweet and innocent" are never to be attributed to you again - first and foremost in your own pretty-little mind.

    Not to put too fine a point on it, but I used to reserve this opinion as “old school” thought maybe younger generations simply dont' have the hang-ups about porn/sweet-innocent being mutually exclusive. Turns out it's b.s. - have heard numerous stories about young guys (in some cases literally about to get married to their "sweet, innocent" fiancés) who were given 11th-hour warnings about the woman they were about to marry with a simple URL and "stage name". These young men went thru the same horror and withdrawal most of us old-guys can imagine.

    This isn't cultural or generational - it's human nature - right down to our core, lizard brain... and everyone, sooner or later, understands it ... particularly the women that chose the knee-drop not imagining a family in their future.

    Last … this isn’t condemnation … to me Kiger is PERFECT in the lust role I’ve been fantasizing about for decades …she doesn’t fit “sweet and innocent” and I’m happy about that …many women are proud of not being that … my point here is two-fold: 1. this is speculation as to why she may be silent and 2. lust and sweetness should never occupy the same public space (keyword PUBLIC.) Every guy wants his girlfriend to project sweet innocent and proper to the world - but then act like a whore in bed … but NO MAN wants to know she was a whore with other men.

    Just my 2 cents … now back to my lust-filled thoughts about Kiger in that chair, doing that teeth-gritting clench, as she stairs into the camera.

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    1. You make some valid points, Anon. If you have any blog or writings online, please send me a message through the "Contact" tab and let me know.

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  12. Remembering the times we went to San Jacinto hiking and enjoying life with the 'gang' great memories. Sun beams from the blue sky dancing off the trees making rainbows in our minds.

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    1. Belated reply to your post, Anon, and even though this is a long shot; it sounds like you were (and possible still are) personal friends with Susan. If so, and you have any photos of her from back then, how about sharing them here? You can send the scans to me at chris@idolfeatures.com and I'll post them here for fans of Susan to appreciate.

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  13. I had an enormous crush on Susan when she appeared in Playboy, as many others did, I'm sure. To my amazement, she came to Cleveland on the promotional tour for HOTS. I was a mere 20, naive and in awe. I came to the theater, and before she met with fans, they screened HOTS. Then she signed publicity photos for a long line of admirers in the lobby. When my turn came, she asked me what I thought of the movie, and I flubbed my answer. I tried to think of something intelligent to say, like a movie critic would, when I should have just told her the truth, that she was the best and only good part of it. I was so starstruck, I got in line again for a second chance to talk with her, making up the dumb excuse that I wanted a second picture for my brother. She politely obliged, but I felt really stupid. Then a fat guy with a camera asked to have his picture taken with her, and she agreed, posing with him, his arm tight around her waist while I and other envious guys watched. How I wished I had thought to bring a camera with me. I knew the local promoter in charge of the event, Morrie, and he shared with me the name of the motel she was staying at in town, so later, I summoned up my courage and actually called and asked for her room. She answered! I nervously identified myself, as if she could remember me from the crowd of leering guys earlier, and asked if I could show her the sights while she was in town. I can't believe how idiotic this attempt was. She of course declined flatly, and that was that. She was totally out of my league, so I don't know what I was thinking, but at least I tried. Susan, if you ever read this, I'm sure you won't remember any of it, but I hope you get a mild chuckle out of it after all these years. You are awesome.

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    1. Thanks for sharing your story, Chris. Yes, too bad you didn't bring a camera to that event, but you say you did get two signed photos from her. If you still have them, and I can't imagine why you wouldn't, please scan one and e-mail it to me at chris@idolfeatures.com. I'll post it here for all Susan Kiger fans to appreciate.

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  14. Great article and judging by the comments, I'm not the only one who's wondered whatever became of Miss January 1977. All of the other stuff I found on the 'net has just been from her old Playboy shoots and the movies she did back in the 70's. Nothing since then. But I guess you already know that. I hope you can get an interview with her if Susan ever does come out of 'hiding.' She was a favorite of many Playboy readers of my generation.

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  15. Susan Kiger was one of Hefner's best looking girls not just then but of all time. In 1977 Australia then didnt have its own Playboy or Penthouse editions and American ones were always in the newsagents, of which I at age 15 bought my own. (The Australian Playboy edition was published from 1979 to 2000 with mostly local models and early copies are worth some money now - refer Ebay). They even print a special verison of US Playboy for Aust. now with local ads in it as its the only edition available here since 2000 - its usually bought now for upmarket homes to put on coffee tables with Vogue etc..

    I don't know how much exposure Susan got at a model or actress etc after 1977 in US but it seems a pity she didnt do bigger things. But as you know the Reagan era people tried to shut down the mens magazine industry and that would have made life difficult for all of the girls from her period in the 1980s.

    I hope she's been looked after over the years as she deserved to be as one of the national treasures of the USA.

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  16. Met Susan in 1975 when I was a bellboy at the Miramar Hotel in Santa Barbara. The sweetest, funniest, sexiest, woman ever. We had a fun week together. Lee Maxwell

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    1. Ah, so during her pre-Playmate days. Do you have any details or, hopefully, photos you'd like to share of that time, Max?

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