The Naked City Feb 17 2011
FALLING STAR
Another smalltown beauty meets ruin in Hollywood.

She was born Ellen Louise Stowe in Little Rock, Arkansas, but she called herself Star because of her fascination with the sky. She even got a big blue star tattooed below her bikini line. She moved to Los Angeles with ambitions to become a dancer and caught the eye of a Playboy scout while performing at a strip bar. From that point forward she met lots of celebrities and made connections. She was acquainted with Kiss bassist Gene Simmons, dated him, and posed for a Kiss picture disc. Offered an opportunity to be a Playmate of the Month, she accepted and was featured in the magazine’s February 1977 issue.

The relationship with Simmons eventually fizzled and her dancing career never took off. But while she didn’t become famous, she did eventually meet a man, who she married and had a son with. But the union ended in divorce and Stowe moved to Fort Lauderdale in 1986, where she returned to stripping. Former centerfolds typically make good money on the dance circuit and, though little is known about Stowe’s life in Florida, it’s safe to assume that she did okay at first. But she liked to party, and drug problems eventually forced her into prostitution to survive.

On March 16, 1997 she was found strangled and dumped behind an Eckerd pharmacy. Another area prostitute named Sandra Kay Walters had been strangled in the same manner weeks earlier, leading policeto believe both women had been victims of the same assailant. But leads were scarce. Later in 1997 another woman named Tammy Strunk was found dead in a shopping center trash bin in the city of Plantation, Florida. Before the year ended a woman named Theresa Kettner was found dead in Coral Springs. By then police had to admit they probably had a serial killer on their hands.
 
When two more strangled women turned up in 1999, what had been a strong theory became an ironclad certainty. But then the crimes stopped. Since 1999 there haven't been any new killings fitting the modus operandi of the previous strangulations, and today the cases are unsolved. Of all the former Playmates who died before their time, Stowe’s story is among the most tragic. Her nickname was meant to tell the world of her poetic spirit, but when she fell so far, and burned out so fast, it also provided a metaphor for her life.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
April 20
1939—Holiday Records Strange Fruit
American blues and jazz singer Billie Holiday records "Strange Fruit", which is considered to be the first civil rights song. It began as a poem written by Abel Meeropol, which he later set to music and performed live with his wife Laura Duncan. The song became a Holiday standard immediately after she recorded it, and it remains one of the most highly regarded pieces of music in American history.
April 19
1927—Mae West Sentenced to Jail
American actress and playwright Mae West is sentenced to ten days in jail for obscenity for the content of her play Sex. The trial occurred even though the play had run for a year and had been seen by 325,000 people. However West's considerable popularity, already based on her risque image, only increased due to the controversy.
1971—Manson Sentenced to Death
In the U.S, cult leader Charles Manson is sentenced to death for inciting the murders of Sharon Tate and several other people. Three accomplices, who had actually done the killing, were also sentenced to death, but the state of California abolished capital punishment in 1972 and neither they nor Manson were ever actually executed.
April 18
1923—Yankee Stadium Opens
In New York City, Yankee Stadium, home of Major League Baseball's New York Yankees, opens with the Yankees beating their eternal rivals the Boston Red Sox 4 to 1. The stadium, which is nicknamed The House that Ruth Built, sees the Yankees become the most successful franchise in baseball history. It is eventually replaced by a new Yankee Stadium and closes in September 2008.
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