Dolly Read came to America from England as a young girl to become a bunny — a Playboy Bunny. After months of training, she became the first British Playboy Playmate in 1966. She was an actress in England and moved to Malibu in 1969 and starred in the very popular “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.” She left England with nothing and went back and met the Queen in 1973.
In 1969, Read met comedian Dick Martin and fell in love. They got married two years later and celebrated 40 years of marriage together until his recent passing. A true love story, at age 71, her eyes still sparkle when she speaks about him.
The Malibu Times got a chance to sit down with the woman whose only regret in life is that she couldn’t keep her husband around longer.
How does it feel to have the title of the first British Playboy Playmate? Do you still get recognized for it?
It means more now than it did at the time. I was very naïve then. When I was asked to be a Playmate, I called my mother. My mother said if you could look at yourself in the mirror and not be ashamed then go for it. I was brought up by strict parents. Yes, I still get recognized. Isn’t it amazing? I still go to the autograph shows. I’m still getting loads of mail.
“Beyond the Valley of the Dolls” wasn’t a big hit when it first came out, but it has since become much bigger. Why do you think that is?
It got the Raspberry Award at the time. It was downplayed a lot. It was a tongue-in-cheek kind of thing. People didn’t get it back then, they get it now.
Why didn’t you do any more movies after “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls?”
I fell in love. Dick did not want to be married to an actress. He was on the road and I was with him. We did game shows together. When I wanted to work, I worked. But nothing serious.
Do you watch your movies now? How do you feel watching it after so many years?
No, I’ve watched “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls” five times and that’s enough for anybody. I’ve never liked any pictures of myself until about 10 years later. Then I say it wasn’t that bad then.
You were married to Dick Martin for more than 40 years. What is the secret to a lasting relationship, especially in the spotlight?
Two bathrooms! His and hers bathrooms, that’s the secret to a long relationship. To never argue in the house. We never argued in this house. A sense of humor. He never told jokes, but he just reacted. We always kissed each other three times before we went to bed. Three is my lucky number and he would go for a fourth kiss because he knew it could get him nine kisses.
You have always been involved with many charities. Which ones are your favorite and why?
I started a charity for abused and abandoned children. When I visited MacLaren Hall [in Los Angeles] around Christmas time, I was so sad to see that there was no sign of Christmas there. There was no tree, no gifts, no decoration and no happiness. I just wanted to give them Christmas. So I got together a few friends and we went around and got gifts and wrapped them all up ourselves and gave them such a wonderful Christmas. We did it for two years and then it got too big. Corporations got involved and I got stabbed in the back for a few things, so I stopped.
What is your favorite thing about Malibu? If you could change one thing about Malibu, what would it be and why?
The sound of the ocean. I can’t live without it. It’s like a mantra. You know everything is going to be OK. I’m so blessed to be able to live in Malibu. Also the people. You know a Malibuite when they smile. I would change the traffic.
How was it having your portrait painted by Johanna Spinks?
It was so wonderful ... I just love her. I feel connected to her. She’s just a gem. She’s lovely. It was such a positive experience.