The mysterious life and death of the first Playboy Playmate in glasses

Fran Gerard Playboy Playmate Eyeglasses Glasses

I was thinking today: who was the first woman in eyewear I can remember that struck me as deeply sexy? I almost immediately recalled a Playboy Playmate from the 1960s, smiling, bookish looking, hair piled atop her head, white negligee forming a filmy canopy over the body of a fertility goddess. It was a study in contrasts and therefore striking.

I had seen it as a boy in an anniversary issue’s retrospective of past Playmates. Who was she?

I did a Google search and discovered her name was Fran Gerard, Playmate of the Month for March 1967. After looking at pictures from that shoot (I now notice she was wearing non-prescription eyeglasses) I became curious as to what ever happened to her.

Some Playmates have been famously tragic like Marilyn Monroe, Bettie Page, Anna Nicole Smith and Dorothy Stratten. Some just famous like Jenny McCarthy. Others have had unusual resumés like Victoria Vetri who played Isis in the Star Trek episode “Assignment: Earth” and later did time for shooting her husband. Still others have been notably interesting like Rock and Roll chick Bebe Buell (who I have the pleasure of knowing).

But Fran Gerard basically disappeared… and then she died at 37. That’s all.

If you have a bit of time and the inclination you can fall down a rabbit hole trying to solve mysteries on the internet. But this was all I found, which originated on a Wikipedia “Talk” page:

UNCONFIRMED BIOGRAPHICAL DATA–PLEASE CONFIRM BEFORE USING:

Fran Gerard’s real name was Fran Cavender. Born Frances Anna Camuglia, she married Jack L. Cavender, 37 years old, in 1966. The marriage only lasted 7 months. Fran Camuglia lived in the Los Angeles area and was a member of the Granada Hills High School class of 1966. Fran and Jack Cavender divorced in January 1967, shortly before her Playboy centerfold appeared. She remarried in 1970 in Las Vegas to Maximilian Anthony Rey, of New Mexico. Little is known about either of her husbands. She died in Fountain View, California on May 30, 1985. Her date of birth, given as March 23, 1948 on the Playboy website, may actually have been March 24, according to one record.

You start asking questions, like how did a high school girl come to marry a 37 year old guy before graduation? Why did nothing follow the Playboy appearance, not even a single bit part or other modeling appearance? What was the reason she died at the age of 37?

I’d simply wanted to write a blog post about sexy women in eyewear. Instead I find myself pondering a gloomy enigma.

Fran Gerard as she appeared in Playboy as Miss March 1967.

Fran Gerard as she appeared in Playboy as Miss March 1967.

More eyewear stuff next week.

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14 Responses

  1. Jackson Barber says:

    Adding another bit to the unconfirmed data above: I believe Jack Cavender was some kind of two-bit talent agent in Los Angeles who had a small hole-in-the wall agency that specialized in strippers, go-go girls, and nude modeling assignments, like girls to pose for photo clubs, and that he would take out small ads in the back pages of the LA FREE PRESS and the local trade papers looking for girls. This is all IIRC and maybe somebody can verify it; I wasn’t certain enough to add it to the Wikipedia page, back when there was a Fran Gerard Wikipedia page.

    • Moss Lipow says:

      You’re right. She’s only mentioned in the 1967 Playmates page. And that article seems to “fall within the scope of the WikiPorn Project” which feels unfortunate. All things considered that photo shoot was more art than anything – just like a lot of vintage glamor and pin up photography.

  2. A woman like that is the only proof I need that Evolution just couldnt be true.

  3. Goatlips says:

    Playmate 42, 1 of 50 collectible Playboy magazine photos from the 2010 video game Mafia II – although it’s actually set in 1945/51 (and also has radio songs from later too).
    Her’s is the hottest pic I found, although I only have 16. Probably the best set of video game collectibles in history – worth the effort.

  4. twobe1 says:

    Thanks, interesting indeed.

    • Moss Lipow says:

      Thank you. This post has actually gotten a lot of comments, but many are off-color (though highly complimentary of Miss Camuglia’s beauty and charms) and I’m reluctant to unfilter them. This is a family friendly blog, after all.

      One thing is certain: she’s not forgotten.

  5. Terry Hicks Smith says:

    Fran was a classmate of mine at Granada Hills High School. We sat next to each other in a home-ec class. She would tell me several times that after she graduated she was going to be a Playboy Playmate. I would say “sure Fran”!
    Well she was serious and was the centerfold the following March. Fran was very nice and I was so sad to hear of her death at such a young age.

  6. Caren Shapiro says:

    She had the most luscious big tits of them all. Beautiful girl.

  7. Wade Larsen says:

    Correction: Victoria Vetri did shoot her husband in 2010, but he survived. She got 9 years in state prison.

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