Whatever Happened to Janet Pilgrim?

This post recounts, again,  my encounter with Playboy in my youth. I was about twelve and living with my family in Del Mar, California. Our first winter there we rented a house in the hills from several Navy flyers who were on an extended carrier mission. In an old dresser in my bedroom, tucked away in the bottom drawer, I found a stash of well preserved old Playboys, I vividly recall my excitement as I hurriedly flipped through the pages of each magazine, ogling the beautiful, partially nude, and mostly big breasted women.

The only Playboy centerfold model whose name I can still recall is Janet Pilgrim, a platinum blond with  a “girl next door” face and large, pale breasts.  Here, from RickRaven’s Flickr site, is one of her Playboy photos. There appear to be only four distinct photographs of Pilgrim on Flickr. A google search produces only a handful more. This French site has some additional shots and the text accompanying each of Pilgrim’s three appearances as “Playmate of the Month”.

Here’s the only mention of Pilgrim on the Playboy website:

Hef spent more and more nights in his quarters at the back of Playboy’s offices, across from Chicago’s Holy Name Cathedral. Here he courted a number of co-workers, the best known of whom was a pretty blonde named Charlaine Karalus from the magazine’s subscription department. As Janet Pilgrim, a name chosen by Hef as a spoof of Puritanism, she became Playboy’s first real Girl Next Door, going on to appear on a record three Centerfolds in 1955 and 1956 and setting the tone for all the Playmates who followed.

Other websites mentioning her all offer the same basic blurb of biographical information, Here’s a typical mention, from Wikipedia:

Janet Pilgrim (born Charlaine Edith Karalus on June 13, 1934 in Wheaton, Illinois) is an American model and actress. She was chosen as Playboy‘s Playmate of the Month three times: July 1955, December 1955 and October 1956.

The latest reference to Pilgrim I could find is a photo of her with Hugh Hefner  taken in 1979 posted on the Playboy site. At the time of  that photograph she would have been 45. There is nothing else on the internet about her life after that year. She just vanishes with utterly no mention of the last thirty-one years of her life…

Read all of VISIONS

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