40 years of faulty wiring

Life and Death of a Porn Star and Her Alter Ego: when Colleen Applegate met Shauna Grant

A blonde-haired, blue-eyed beauty, Colleen Applegate was like a Hollywood stereotype, a small-town girl of 18 who left home seeking something better, except Colleen Applegate was no stereotype. Colleen Applegate was hauntingly, unforgettably real. Her story is re-told by television syndicates and in dreadful made-for-tv movies. watch The death of shauna grant: entertainment tonight

Perhaps it is her many parallels to Marilyn Monroe/Norma Jeane that fascinates people. Hailing from a dysfunctional family and experiencing little happiness in Minnesota, she attempted suicide at least once before running away. It was small wonder Colleen left Minnesota to find herself: even the obscure name of her town Farmington sounds restrictive, and post-high school Colleen couldn’t find her niche. Her mother, Karen Applegate was  cold and controlling, her father Phil Applegate, removed from the family dynamic.

Is this bleak portrait of family life typical of a porn actress?  Often drugs and pornography are blamed when a porn star kills herself but what is the catalyst that prompts an ordinary girl to leave an ordinary home and get involved in sex on film? watch Shauna Grant’s Gravesite 

Colleen and her boyfriend, Mike Marcell, went to Los Angeles where neither of them obtained employment for several weeks until Colleen’s first nude modelling gig, arranged by Jim South for World Modelling Agency. Marcell joined the U.S. Army after informing the Farmington community that Colleen was involved in porn. watch blonde, gorgeous and naked Colleen remained in Los Angeles alone.Her sultry blonde beauty secured photo shoots with well-known mens magazines such as Penthouse and Hustler. One photographer, Stephen Hicks, advised her to get out of nude modelling because “when all the magazines had used her the only thing left… would be hardcore movies.”  (watch suzy superstar – 1983)

Colleen didn’t take the advice and she began working with porn industry film producer Bobby Hollander, who gave her the stage name “Shauna Grant“. Her pay increased from $300 a day to $1,500, but she spent most of it on cocaine. A Farmington friend, Brenda, who visited her in Los Angeles offered to help her leave the porn industry and get a respectable job. Colleen refused. She made dozens of movies, but Shauna’s career came to a sudden end when she refused to do anal or lesbian sex. In 1983, a disillusioned Colleen retired from the adult film industry. Her career had lasted less than a year.  watch shauna grant and ron jeremy  1984

Through Hollander, Colleen met her last boyfriend, Jake Ehrlich, 44.  Ehrlich claimed his interest in Colleen waned when he discovered the extent of her neediness: Colleen wanted to be with him all the time and followed him around from room to room. Ehrlich suggested she see a psychiatrist. In an eerie echo of Karen and Phil Applegate, Ehrlich didn’t take her threats of suicide seriously; he felt she was “looking for attention.”

Colleen lived with Ehrlich until he was arrested for drug trafficking in February 1984. While imprisoned Ehrlich ended their relationship.  In a surprising move Colleen’s parents offered to take her back into their home in Farmington. Watch suzie superstar edited trailer 1983  Her thinking, clouded by depression, coke addiction, a tumultuous relationship with Ehlrich, and a degrading career, Colleen refused to return home. On March 23, 1984, Colleen committed suicide in Palm Springs with Ehrlich’s .22 Long Rifle in Ehrlich’s home. After spending  2 years striving to build a life outside of her home town, Collen’s body was returned to Farmington for burial. watch shauna grant and john lboth eslie at 8th annual erotic film awards

The defunct television series Frontline did a segment on Colleen’s life story beginning at around the time she attempted suicide in Farmington and committed suicide in Las Angeles.  Her childhood was virtually ignored, as well as her relationships with her family, including her brother and 2 sisters. watch 1-hour documentary PBS Frontline:  Death of a Porn Queen

Some time after Colleen’s suicide her parents, Karen and Phil Applegate, divorced.  Three years after the suicide, Karen Applegate launched an investigation into her daughter’s death, claiming it was Jake Ehrlich who arranged Colleen’s homicide. Police reviewed Colleen’s case but were “satisfied” it was a suicide. Perhaps in a posthumous display of mother love, Karen Applegate is still searching for clues to her daughter’s death, refusing to accept the cause of death as suicide. Shauna Grant on Facebook

Eerie echoes between Marilyn Monroe and Colleen Applegate:

  1. hailed from dysfunctional families in small towns
  2. Colleen had a cold, distant mother; Marilyn’s mother was
    schizophrenic and detached from her daughter
  3. wished for fame
  4.  blonde and beautiful
  5. ideal body types for their eras
  6. found recognition on film
  7.  posed nude (Marilyn posed for a series of calendar shots and it
    is rumoured she starred in a soft core porn)
  8. developed alter egos
  9. searched for a family and sense of belonging they would
    never find
  10. addicted to various substances
  11.  nominated for a number of film awards
  12. had abortions
  13. made a number of suicide attempts
  14. died by suicide
  15. suspicion surrounds their deaths in terms of a possible homicide
  16. dated older men
  17. spent significant amounts of time alone in Los Angeles
  18. Colleen had no relationship with her siblings; Marilyn had no siblings
  19. Marilyn had sex with many men in the industry to become a movie star;
    Colleen had sex with many men on film to become a porn star

If I missed any, let me know.

April 22, 2012 Posted by | Celebrity Chic, Human psychology, Pop Culture | 9 Comments