The Life of Barbi Benton: Hugh Hefner’s One That Got Away

It takes a special woman to tame Hugh Hefner’s wild heart, but Barbara Benton was up to the task. The California-based model dated the Playboy mogul for nearly nine years. She’s the woman behind the iconic mansion and even though she was the one that got away, she remained one of Hefner’s closest confidantes up until his death. This is the story of how a 16-year-old hopeful veterinarian became a Playboy icon.

She Wanted To Be A Vet


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Benton’s childhood was pretty normal. Her dad was a gynecologist and her mom was an investment counselor. They gave her lessons in various activities, from scuba diving to piano, in order to help her discover her passions. Her passion happened to be animals – at least until it wasn’t.

Benton went to UCLA to become a veterinarian but didn’t last long before signing to a commercial agency as a model. “I had to give up [being a vet] when I realized I couldn’t stand the sight of blood,” she said. Her time shooting TV commercials eventually led her to Hugh Hefner, the Playboy model, and her future longterm love.