hollywood seconds playboy's premise that miss august ought to be in pictures
Susan Denberg, our striking Miss August, joins a long and lovely line of Playmates whose centerfold appearances have preceded their cinematic debuts -- a comely clan that includes such gatefold delights as Jayne Mansfield (February 1955), Stella Stevens (January 1960), Donna Michelle (December 1963), Jo Collins (December 1964) and Sue Williams (April 1965). Susan, a honey of a blonde, will make her filmic bow this fall in the celluloid version of Norman Mailer's recent best-selling novel An American Dream. Born and bred in Klagenfurt, Austria, where her family still operates a chain of electrical appliance shops, 22-year-old Susan came to California less than a year ago by way of London and Las Vegas. As she told us, with just the slightest trace of an umlauted vowel or two to give away her native Teutonic tongue: "By the time I was eighteen, I'd had it with the provincial ways of Klagenfurt; so I kissed Momma, Poppa and my two kid brothers -- Ulrich and Reinhard -- goodbye and leaded West like your Horace Greeley advised all young people to do. My first stop was England, where my childhood ballet lessons and the fact that I was a blonde combined to help me land a job in the chorus line of the Bluebells of London. When the group went on tour, I went with them as far as the Las Vegas run at the Stardust, then decided to stay on in the States and have a go at every young girl's dream: a movie career."
Susan's Dream role was not long in coming. She landed the part of Ruta -- a promiscuous German parlormaid -- in the forthcoming Warner Bros. production, which stars Stuart Whitman, Janet Leigh, Eleanor Parker, Barry Sullivan and Lloyd Nolan. "Like me, Ruta is a Teutonic import with a weakness for strong-willed men," our green-eyed belle of the month explains. "Of course, the fact that I speak with a German accent certainly didn't hurt my chances of being cast for the part." For a while, however, it appeared as though Susan might not be Susan at all by the time the film's release date rolled around. As part of a nationwide contest to find a nom de cinéma for its latest ascending starlet, Warner Bros. offered a $500 award for the winning entry and received 5000 name suggestions from cinemaphiles throughout both hemispheres before wisely deciding to leave Susan -- name and all -- exactly as they'd found her. "Some of the names submitted were pretty far out," recalls Susan. "But the funniest entry of them all was Norma Mailer."
With keen eyes to continue her pursuit of an American acting career now that she's broken the proverbial ice in pictures, Susan spends the bulk of her off-camera hours studying dramatics at Hollywood's Desilu Studio Workshop and taking voice and diction lessons from Madame Gertrude Fogler in Beverly Hills ("If the studio heads think I have an accent now, they should have heard me murder the language when I first hit town"). On weekends, however, her avocational interests attract her to the nearest beach ("All Nordic women are secretly in love with the sun"), discothèque ("With all the professional dancing I've done, I still get a kick out of learning all the new steps"), ski slope ("As a child I used to ski to school every day during winter, but now I'm lucky if I can make it out to Mount Baldy twice a month") or sports-car competition ("As soon as a few more films come my way, I've promised myself the best of all possible rewards: a new fuel-injected Corvette"). To inject a happy note of our own on the current shape of Austro-American trade, we recommend an audit of Susan's well-balanced figure in this month's centerfold.
Photography by Peter Gowland