Julie Strain, the prolific B-movie actress and Penthouse Pet of the Year who stood 6-foot-1 became a towering presence on the Comic-Con and autograph show circuit, has died, according to Malibu Bay Films and former associates. She was 57.
A statement from Malibu Bay praised Strain as a larger-than-life actress whose winning personality was her most outsized feature: “She will forever remain in our hearts and on our screens as the mesmerizingly talented, contagiously kind and incredibly powerful actress and heroine.”
Strain had struggled in recent years with degenerative dementia and lingering effects of a major head trauma suffered in her early 20s during a bad equestrian mishap. A former high school athlete in Pleasant Valley, Ca., the native of nearby Concord endured the difficult road to recovery and then began a career as a model and actress. Despite the medical factors, Strain would handle much of her own stunt work over the years while carving out a career that would surpass 100 film credits.
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Those credits would include direct-to-video films and B-movies with vivid titles such as Delta Delta Die!, Babewatch Biker Babes, Havasu Heat, Bikini Squad, Lingerie Kickboxer, The Bare Wench Project 2: Scared Topless, Sex Court: The Movie, Bikini Hotel, Love Bites, Battle Queen 2020, Sorceress II: The Temptress , Vampire Child, and Blonde Heaven.
The B-movie star also portrayed small roles in major Hollywood studio fare such as Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult (she portrayed a dominatrix), Beverly Hills Cop III (as “Annihilator Girl”), and Double Impact (as a student).
Strain’s curvy figure made her a favorite as a model for illustrators and her likeness became well-known to readers of Heavy Metal magazine, the venerable sci-fi glossy that for years was best known for its deep-space cheesecake covers. Strain was married for a time to Heavy Metal’s editor-in-chief, Kevin Eastman, who is best known as the co-creator of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Strain would tell interviewers that it was her nude spreads in Penthouse magazine that gave her the wherewithal to move from page-posing to screen-acting.
“I take pride in my body and work out five days a week,” Strain said. “To be chosen as [Penthouse] Pet of the Year when I was 31 was truly a blessing. I did their first video and CD-ROM. That year gave me the seed money to start my career. Most of my friends are centerfolds. I think sexy women rule the planet.”