Top 10 Playboy Playmates of all time [SLIDESHOW]

Nearly 60 years ago in a kitchen in Chicago, lightening struck.

With a $1,000 loan from his mother, Hugh Hefner started the magazine that has become one of the most recognizable names in publishing, brimming with Playmates, fiction and journalism. Since it’s inception, Playboy Enterprises, Inc. has developed an impressive presence in nearly every medium.

Now, the quintessential Playboy has announced that the entire back catalog as well as new issues of Playboy magazine will become available in its uncensored form on the iPad beginning in March, 2011. We sincerely hope Apple possesses the ingenuity to not rain on Playboy‘s parade, though Steve Jobs once said that he absolutely does not want to allow porn on the iOS platform.

In honor of the back catalog soon to be available via touch screen, we’re taking a look back at the ten most famous Playboy playmates of all time, with three honorable mentions:

Click an image below for larger version.
  • Honorary mention: The Girls Next Door -- Because how could we leave out Bridget, Kendra and Holly?
  • #10 Shannon Tweed: Miss November 1981 and Playmate of the Year 1982 is perhaps better known for her relationship with Gene Simmons of Kiss since 1985 (and then, of course, her highly produced films). Most recently, she appeared on the A&E show “Gene Simmons Family Jewels.”
  • #9 Farrah Fawcett: Charlie's most precious angel had appeared semi-nude in the magazine during her younger years, but most impressively returned to Playboy with a pictorial for the July 1997 issue at the age of 50. It was a top seller, to say the least.
  • #8 Jayne Mansfield: Another sex symbol of the 50s and 60s, Mansfield was the February 1955 Playmate of the month. Many, including Sophia Loren, were jealous of her ample chest, which led people to think of her as a bustier Marilyn Monroe.
  • #7 Dorothy Stratten: Miss August 1979 and 1980’s Playmate of the Year was similar to our #1 pick, in that she gained significant fame after death -- at the tender age of 20, her husband murdered her.
  • #6 Kelly Monaco: After her appearance on the cover of the April 1997 issue, Monaco began and sustained a legitimate career as an actress. She was nominated for two daytime Emmys as Samantha McCall on “General Hospital" and appeared on "Dancing With the Stars."
  • #5 Betty Paige: The pinup of the 50s and 60s gained a cult following for her pictorials after posing in Playboy in January 1955.
  • #3 Pamela Anderson: Pam debuted as a brunette in the February 1990 issue but, as everyone knows, augmented her appearance significantly to become the inflated blond bombshell (we use this term loosely) she is today. Since her first Playboy cover, she has appeared on 12 additional covers -- more than anyone else.
  • #2 Anna Nicole Smith: Miss May 1992 and Playmate of the Year in 1993, Smith's career peaked when she was modeling for the magazine, but plummeted, to say the least, in the years following.
  • #1 Marilyn Monroe: The blonde bombshell who became an archetypal sex symbol and who set the bar for every cover girl and Playmate who followed. In December 1953, she was "Sweetheart of the Month," which is now considered the first Playmate award.