Kymberly Herrin, who appeared in Ghostbusters and ZZ Top’s Legs music video, has died at the age of 65. TMZ reported that Herrin passed away on Sept. 5 at her home in Los Angeles. A cause of death was not revealed. More than two decades before busting ghosts with Bill Murray, Herrin posed nude for Playboy magazine when she was 23 years old and later became the Playmate of the Year in 1981.
Kymberly Herrin’s life and career
Born in Houston, Texas, Kymberly Herrin was Playboy’s Miss December 1981 and appeared as Bess in the 1984 film Ghostbusters.
In 1985 she became the first African-American to pose for Playboy’s centerfold. She also appeared in ZZ Top’s music video for their 1985 single Legs.
Herrin died of cancer on Sunday. The New York Times reports that she had been diagnosed in 2014 with stage four lung cancer.
She is survived by a daughter from a previous marriage. Playboy released a statement mourning her death: We are saddened to learn of the passing of Playboy Playmate Kymberly Herrin, it said.
She was an iconic beauty and will be missed. Playboy’s parting words: She was an icon both in front of and behind the camera, and we shall never forget her.
Rest in peace, Kymberly Herrin.
After wrapping production on Ghostbusters, Herrin found herself without work after director Ivan Reitman deemed her breasts were too big for film audiences.
I went home crying because I thought my career was over, she told Yahoo! Movies years later. But ZZ Top saw potential in her and recruited her to star in their music video for Legs.
(Gibson became such a fan he reportedly offered Kymberly Herrin his own face during some body modification surgery.) After retiring from acting, Kymberly Herrin ran a successful business in Los Angeles called Custom Closet Designers.
In her spare time, she enjoyed shopping sprees at Nordstrom and Dior showrooms, loved jazz music and once took a road trip cross country for fresh kiwis.
Kymberly Herrin spent years designing closets out of all manner of materials before turning her attention to managing high end custom closet design firm outside Los Angeles which designs closets tailored to clients’ specific needs.
Kymberly Herrin was born on March 13, 1953 in the Bronx, New York to a Puerto Rican father and a Jewish mother.
She grew up in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn with her mother and stepfather who worked as a bookie for small-time boxing clubs.
In 1976 she graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) with a degree in fashion design. At FIT she was crowned Miss FIT by then President Gerald Ford’s wife Betty Ford.
Kymberly then went to work as an assistant designer for Anne Klein where she eventually became a designer. It was there that she met Tony Thomopoulos who would later become her husband.
Before separating and divorcing in 1991, they were married for a decade. In 1989, she made her first appearance in Playboy magazine after being discovered by Peter Paul Coppola when he saw a picture of her taken for Savvy Magazine and put it into one of his photoshoots.
At the time, she was 21 years old. Shortly thereafter, she starred in Ghostbusters playing Janine Melnitz, secretary and love interest to Bill Murray’s character Dr.
in what has been described as one of Bill Murray’s most memorable performances ever. In 1986 and 1987, she hosted the Playboy TV talk show Night Calls, which ran until 1988.
From 1990 to 1994 she hosted a daytime talk show called Street Smarts. In 1990, Playboy published her autobiography entitled One More Time: My Life With ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons.
After moving back to California, Kymberly married screenwriter Josh Olsen in 1996 and they had three more children together.
Her last credited acting role was alongside Jessica Lange in 2004’s horror film The Ring Two.
Over the course of her career, she also modeled for Playboy, Sports Illustrated, Cosmopolitan, Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar among other publications.
She authored the memoir One More Time in 1990 about her life with ZZ Top lead guitarist Billy Gibbons. Among her other jobs, she served as Playboy’s West Coast bureau chief and Los Angeles correspondent. She earned a bachelor’s degree in fashion design from FIT, spent many years designing for Anne Klein before starting her own line of clothing.
In 1989, she appeared nude on the cover of Playboy Magazine after being discovered by Hollywood director Peter Paul Coppola while working as an assistant designer at Anne Klein.
She is survived by her four children with ex-husband Tony Thomopoulos; Kymberly Ann Thomopoulos (born 1983), Alexandra Kathryn Ariel Thomopoulos (born 1985), Alexandria Sofia Alexa Thomopoulos (born 1993) and Christian Hunter Thomopoulos (born 2001).
Her marriage to second husband, the writer Josh Olsen, ended in divorce in 2007.
In 1997, Kymberly underwent a double mastectomy after being diagnosed with breast cancer in 1995.
She never remarried. She was truly a dynamic woman, her friend Wendy Laister said of her. She loved people, she loved telling stories and she always lit up the room.
Tributes to Herrin
After her death on Saturday, those who knew the actress shared their tributes to her on Twitter. One person wrote that she was a beautiful woman with a big heart.
Another said they were thrilled when they first saw her in Ghostbusters. Kymberly’s sister-in-law tweeted that she was one of the sweetest people I have ever met, adding that the world is a sadder place without Kymberly in it.
Kym was also an accomplished artist, who owned an art gallery in Texas. She appeared on Playboy Magazine five times as well as starred in ZZ Top’s music video for their song Legs.
Kymberly will be missed by many who adored her creativity and spirit.
A talented businesswoman, she ran the Flying Colors Gallery in Dallas where you could find not just her work but other artists’ paintings and sculptures.
I love this community because all these artists get together, she told The Dallas Morning News in 2006. They’re so supportive.
She went from Playboy model to movie star appearing opposite Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd in 1984’s Ghostbusters as Janine Melnitz.
We would go out and drink red wine with vodka, she recalled of filming the classic comedy movie during an interview last year. We had such a good time.
But while all those on set bonded, none bonded quite like Kylie and Bill.