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Thursday, June 29, 2023

The Death of Anneka Vasta: Hollywood Noir

     Anneka Vasta was born Marjorie Lee Thoreson in July 1952 in St. Paul, Minnesota. In 1973 she met and started dating Penthouse Magazine publisher Bob Guccione. Two years later she became Guccione's Penthouse pet of the year and in 1979 starred as Anneka Di Lorenzo in Guccione's soft-porn film, "Caligula."

     Vasta, in 1988, claiming that Guccione had compelled her to have sex with two of his business associates, sued him for sexual harassment. The jury, in 1990, awarded her $4 million but an appeals court, on procedural grounds, vacated the award. In retaliation for the suit Mr. Guccione reprinted photographs of Vasta and another woman in a lesbian love scene from "Caligula."

     In 2003, while living in Sherman Oaks, California, Vasta began suffering bouts of paranoia and anxiety. Seven years later the recently divorced 58-year-old, now having financial problems, still struggled with mental illness.

     A pair of joggers, on January 4, 2011 discovered Vasta's naked body on a Marine training beach at Camp Pendleton in San Diego County. Agents with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) took control of the case. Shortly after the discovery of the corpse investigators located the 59-year-old's Mazda at a popular scenic overlook along Interstate 5. Because her body could not have reached the water from this point, NCIS agents concluded that Vasta had not jumped off the sixty foot cliff.

     At autopsy the forensic pathologist determined that while Vasta had a broken neck and back she had drowned. The pathologist found, on Vasta's wrists, superficial cuts called "hesitation marks" that suggested half-hearted attempts at suicide. The body also revealed two shallow stab wounds to her chest. Vasta's body contained no traces of alcohol or drugs. The autopsy produced no evidence of sexual abuse.

     In the dead woman's car searchers found blood-stained clothing--a blouse and a sports bra--inside a plastic bag. Investigators also found a steak knife bearing traces of her blood. The Mazda also contained Vasta's cellphone and purse. On the passenger's side floor investigators discovered Lithium and an empty Xanax bottle.

     Two days before the joggers came upon Vasta's body in the sand, she had rented a room at a Motel 6 on Raintree Drive near South Carlsbad State Beach. She had not checked out. Investigators found no evidence of violence or foul play in her motel room.

     Vasta's history of paranoia and anxiety, and the presence of the hesitation marks, suggested that she had killed herself. But, as in most suspicious death cases without eyewitnesses or obvious suspects, questions remained. For example, how did Vasta get from her car to the water? How did she receive the broken neck and back before drowning in the Pacific? Could these injuries been caused by the action of the ocean before her death?

     Anneka Vasta's life and sudden death--the star-struck gal from Minnesota, corrupted and abused by a sleazy Hollywood porn merchant--is the stuff of Los Angeles noir. It brings to mind the famous quote by novelist and screen writer Ben Hecht: "I knew her name--Madam Hollywood. I rose and said good-by to this strumpet in her bespangled red gown; good-by to her lavender-painted cheeks, her coarsened laugh, her straw-dyed hair, her wrinkled fingers bulging with gems. A wench with flaccid tits and a sandpaper skin under her silks; shined up and whistling like a whore in a park; covered with stink like a railroad station pissery and swinging a dead ass in the moonlight."

     On Tuesday, May 13, 2014, Anneka Vasta, having quickly faded from public consciousness, briefly surfaced in the media on the occasion of the death of a Swiss artist named H. R. Giger. The 74-year-old was best known for his design of the creature in Ridley Scott's science fiction film, "Alien." Internet articles regarding Giger's death from a fall featured him posing with Anneka Vasta in April 1980 at the opening of an art exhibition in New York City.  


  1. Thanks for the invite to your blog. Very nicely written and researched!

    Kathee Baird


  2. I met Anneka in 1975, at the height of her Penthouse Pet of the Year fame. She was at the Sebring 12 Hour IMSA races helping to promote Penthouse and the Porsche they had in the race. She spent most of a Saturday sitting in my box above pit row. Beautiful and full of hopes for making it big. What a shame to end one's life this way.

  3. I remember seeing Anneka Delorenzo's photos in the Penthouse 1980 issue that featured Caligula photos. I thought she was a very beautiful lady and I fantasized over her. i still do. I was 18 years old in 1980 and at a very impressive age. There was no internet porn in 1980. Where I lived (very rural) I could only purchase porn in the paper form of a Penthouse magazines. In 1985, I rented the VHS version of Caligula. My favorite scene of course was the lesbian scene with Anneka. She was so beautiful. I am now 54 years old. The year is 2016 (36 years since 1980) and I'm just learning of the circumstances of her death ( Thanks to the internet ). She would be 63 years old if she'd lived and much past her prime. So am I. I feel so sad that this beautiful lady's life ended in such a violent way. It's a shame that she's only remembered for her porn film profile, but that's more than I'll be remembered for. She was a classy lady. I will miss her.

  4. Why did you have to include that ageist and sexist but mainly unbearably cruel quote from Ben Hecht?

    1. The quote is meant to indict the false dream that is Hollywood- how it seduces impressionable young people, particularly young woman, with its promises of fame, beauty, wealth…when it is all a cheap, tacky illusion. It is not a condemnation of Hollywood’s victims.

  5. Because he said it, and it applies to this story. I am a blogger--a writer--not a politician or college professor. I'm interested in reality, not feel good political correctness. If you're so wounded by the quote, I suggest counseling.

  6. I agree with anonymous. The quote by Hecht was a cruel quote, and had nothing to do with poor Anneka. "I'm not a politician, I'm a blogger" what does that have to do with anything? You chose to put it in. I think you are the one that needs counseling.

    1. Here's a "fact" for you Jim. Guccione never had anything to do with Hollywood. He and his business was always based in NYC. And she wasn't a hooker, so your use of the quote isn't very "real."

  7. So I'm watching "Dressed To Kill" because I love 80's thrillers. At the end I see this beautiful nurse strangled by Michael Caine in a dream sequence. Only 30 secs of screen time, Anneka was so eye catching I watched credits & googled her. I expected to read about her retirement from acting, not read into a murder mystery. Sad to hear what a terrible fate to a STUNNING woman.

  8. Ironic that in her final film, Dressed to Kill , she dies of a broken neck

  9. Anneka performed as a singer in a USO show at the air force base I was stationed at in Greece during nineteen seventy_five New Years show> She was beautiful and was surprised how shy she seemed back then> I WILL Never forget meeting her>

    1. During the early 1970's I had the good fortune to be Anneka's friend and neighbor. She came to Hollywood with a passion for the art of acting and a dream of becoming a star. With a powerful yet feminine warrior princess type body and bright apple green eyes enhancing her sweet childlike face she was more than equipped to mesmerize audiences. In those days she was a natural living health advocate who did not smoke, drink or use drugs. Her exercise routine relied partially on her youthful background as a budding gymnast. Subsequently her musculature was remarkably defined and voluptuous. Cellulite was nonexistent and her body complexion appeared to be the skin of a kindergarten age girl.
      So to begin her adventure in climbing the ladder to success in the entertainment industry Anneka competed in local beauty contests. Not surprisingly she consecutively won first place in four challenging contests where she competed against dozens of gorgeous Hollywood hopefuls. The competitions were all upper class events. In fact the talent manager for the contestants
      Mark Marzouk later became President of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association https://images.app.goo.gl/vRzHkJVgxrSuLhn1A Famed fashion designer Mr. Blackwell was one of numerous celebrity judges who chose Anneka as the most beautiful of all.
      Next Anneka was swept off to London with the man of her dreams to model for a Penthouse Pet Of The Month centerfold. The breathtaking photos were true works of art in which she was represented with dignity and respect as a model.
      Achieving her goal of skyrocketing to stardom was only second to Anneka's most coveted plan of becoming a mother. She would frequently praise the miracle of birth and speak of how she couldn't wait for that blessing and honor. To Anneka there was no greater gift from God than being graced with a baby to cherish. Eventually she used her hard earned wisdom became a superlative mother of the highest standard.
      Anneka was an understanding and supportive friend. She was always a good listener and eager to share anything she had. Her sense of humor and zest for life made her a fun and uplifting companion.
      At the time I knew nothing of "grooming" and I had never learned of "mind control." So I couldn't give her the advice which she so desperately needed.
      It's profoundly saddening and disturbing to learn that Anneka lived the last years of her life in terror of dangerous predators who troll the Internet. Although she had become a health care provider and a Master Yoga Teacher she was still targeted for slander campaigns and a nightmarish homicide.

      Rest In Peace Dear Friend