As a young girl growing up in Oregon, Holly Madison says she idolized women like Marilyn Monroe and dreamed of moving to Hollywood. Madison finally got the glitz and glamour she thought she’d always wanted when she moved into the Playboy Mansion and became Hugh Hefner’s “number one” girlfriend in 2002.
Madison spent most of her 20s with Hefner, and in 2005, she became a star in her own right when the E! reality series “The Girls Next Door” debuted to huge ratings. For years, viewers watched Madison’s life play out on screen, but these days, the 35-year-old author of Down the Rabbit Hole says things weren’t always as they seemed.
On “Oprah: Where Are They Now?” Madison speaks candidly about the demise of her relationship with Hefner and how she found true happiness once the cameras stopped rolling.
After moving out of the Playboy Mansion in 2009, Madison fell for her prince charming, Pasquale Rotella. “My husband Pasquale is amazing. He’s definitely my happily ever after,” Madison says. “We were able to have an amazing relationship because we’re both two whole people.”
In 2013, Madison and Rotella welcomed their first child, Rainbow, and got married in a Cinderella-inspired wedding. “In my 20s, I’d kind of given up hope that I would ever have a family so I’m extra grateful to have Rainbow,” Madison says. “I hope my daughter grows up completely differently from the way I did.”
Today, Madison devotes much of her time to chasing after her toddler, reading, raising chickens and practicing yoga. She says she’s learned from past mistakes and hopes that other people can too.
“I definitely wanted to frame my story as a cautionary tale because a lot of women look at kind of the glittery and the glamorous side of things that I’ve done,” she says. “Don’t make desperate decisions based on low self-esteem or feeling needy.”
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