I recently picked up a collection of William Castle’s films. Although I’ve known of them and read about them for years, I haven’t seen most of them. So I finally got a chance to see Mr. Sardonicus, a rather Poe-esque story about a man cursed with disfiguration for violating his father’s grave. I was surprised to learn that it was derived from a then-recent story by Ray Russel (who also wrote the screenplay, his first), which had originally appeared in the January 1961 issue of Playboy. Russell was its fiction editor.
That, of course, got me thinking about George Langelaan’s story The Fly, which had appeared in the June 1957 issue of Playboy, and was turned into the 1958 film of the same name. It was much later very freely adapted into the 1986 David Cronenberg film of that name. It also gave rise to three sequels – two to the first film and one to the latter. And got turned into an opera (!!) 9n 2008. The mind boggles.
It made me wonder about others. I knew that Ray Bradbury’s A Sound of Thunder had appeared in Playboy (in June 1956), but it wasn’t an original publication. It had appeared in Colliers four years earlier, and in Planet Stories after that, and had even been anthologized before its Playboy appearance. The story was liberally adapted into a lackluster Peter Hyams film in 2005 (and in a Ray Bradbury Theater episode in 1989)
The only other case I can think of where a weird story first appearing in Playboy hit the big screen caught me by surprise. I was watching the 1987 movie * Angel Heart* when I realized that I already knew the story. William Hjortsberg’s novel Falling Angel, on which it was based, had been serialized in Playboy. It got turned into an opera, too.
I was unaware of that, but, yup, it’s in the April 1971 issue
One that isn’t really weird, and wasn’t even fiction, but which some people might think fits is The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, which started out as a short piece of real-life reporting by Larry L. King in Playboy in 1974. He later co-wrote the script for the Broadway musical and later the movie. King wasn’t particularly happy with the choices of Dolly Parton and Burt Reynolds as stars (he preferred Jill Clayburgh and Willy Nelson), but the powers that be went with the more bankable, arguably more extreme stars. King later wrote another Playboy piece about his experiences.
I remember someone- Issac Asimov, maybe, saying in an interview that he always sent his stuff to playboy first, as they paid the best and were always looking for content by name authors to add class to the magazine.
Kurt Vonegut’s Slapstick was originally a (IIRC) two-part short story in Playboy. Later, of course, it was expanded to novel-length, and eventually made into a movie with Je rh Lewis and Madeline Kahn.
(I can’t find a citation for that, but I do vividly recall the illustration that accompanied the story.)
I don’t know if he ever got anything published in Playboy? I know he wrote one of his stories specifically for Playboy, on request, but it was rejected. It was noticeably more racy than his other stuff*. He wrote later that he had the satisfaction of seeing it in print before the Playboy number that it would have appeared in came out.
*A bit of tentacle porn and some off screen sex, but not as bad as that sounds.