Iconic 1967 Playboy cover star Bo Black dies at 74

Playboy cover star Bo Black, who refused to pose nude for the 1967 issue because she ‘wanted to be a nun,’ dies at 74

  • Bo Black died at 74 in her Arizona home following a long decline in her health 
  • Black had been the executive director of Milwaukee’s Summerfest music festival for nearly 20 years before moving to Arizona
  • Black landed on the 1967 cover of Playboy while she was a college cheerleader 
  • She refused to pose nude for the magazine despite being offered $5,000 to do it
  • A Catholic and regular mass-goer, she said she wanted to be a nun at the time
  • She appeared on the cover of the magazine wearing an over-sized jersey  

Former Playboy cover girl Elizabeth ‘Bo’ Black – who had refused to appear nude in the magazine while a college coed – passed away at age 74. 

Black died on Friday morning at her home in Scottsdale, Arizona, following a long decline in her health, according to her husband, former MLB manager Tom Trebelhorn.   

‘She was a pistol, pal,’ Trebelhorn, her husband of 20 years, told the New York Daily News. ‘She was a pistol.’

One-time Playboy cover star Bo Black (in an undated photo) passed away at age 74 on Friday, following a long decline in her health, her family said 

Black was known for being the executive director of Summerfest music festival in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for nearly 20 years.   

Trebelhorn managed the Milwaukee Brewers from 1986 to 1991, in addition to managing the Chicago Cubs in 1994.

Black became a Playboy cover model in 1967, after attracting a magazine scout’s eye while she was just 21 years old and a cheerleader at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Black appeared on the cover of the September 1967 issue of Playboy, despite refusing to pose naked inside the magazine

Black posed for the scout – in town looking for co-eds to feature in the upcoming college issue – while wearing a short brown skirt and yellow turtleneck sweater, earning $25 for the trouble. 

Black, a Catholic who went to mass daily, said that she didn’t tell her parents what she’d done because her ‘mother would have had a fit,’ she told the Arizona Republic in 2018.  

The jig was up when someone from Playboy called Black’s home because they’d liked her photo and wanted her to pose for the cover.   

Black said that her parents finally agreed to let her participate in the Playboy shoot as long as she kept her clothes on. 

That was how she wound up being featured in the now iconic September 1967 Playboy cover, wearing a green-and-white jersey and matching knee socks, while holding a football helmet under one arm. 

She received $100 as payment for the cover shoot, but could’ve made $5,000 if she had agreed to pose naked for the magazine’s centerfold – which she refused to do.   

‘Are you kidding?’ I wanted to be a nun!’ she told the newspaper.  

Black (pictured) was the executive director of Milwaukee’s Summerfest music festival for nearly 20 years and was also executive director of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society

Black (left) was married to former MLB manager Tom Trebelhorn (right) for 20 years. She had three children and four grandchildren

Instead of living that Playmate life, Black graduated from college in 1969 and went on to get a teaching certificate. 

Black then taught math, sang in Milwaukee’s Skylight Music Theatre, was assistant to Wilwaukee Mayor Henry Maier and became the executive director of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and Summerfest.  

When Black resigned from her Summerfest role, she talked about having health issues and undergoing heart surgery, noting in the early 2000s that one side of her family had a history of heart disease, according to Fox 6 Now. 

‘Bo Black was a huge part of Milwaukee for many years. In the entire history of Summerfest, no one name is more associated with the annual event than Bo Black,’ Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said in a statement to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

‘She brought enthusiasm and glamour to her position as the head of Milwaukee World Festivals, and she was also a demanding leader who set Summerfest and ethnic festivals on a course for ongoing success.’

Barrett added that Black ‘was truly a Milwaukee celebrity. She will be long-remembered for her impact on our city.’

Summerfest, in a statement, credited Black with working ‘tirelessly with various ethnic festivals and other charitable causes, helping to ensure their success’ and also noted that she had ‘championed “Operation Summer Chance”, a youth employment program which aimed to provide Milwaukee’s young people a job experience at Henry Maier Festival Park.’

The music festival called Black ‘a force’ and said it was ‘grateful for her efforts, creativity and flair, which help make Summerfest the incredible experience it is today. On behalf of everyone at Summerfest past and present, we send our heartfelt condolences to Bo’s friends and family.’  

Wisconsin Sen. Alberta Darling said in a statement that Black ‘was a kind friend who cared about her community and those around her. I was lucky enough to call Bo a friend for many years. I will be forever grateful for her friendship, her laugh, and her wisdom.’

Darling added: ‘Rest in peace, Bo. You made the Big Gig and now you head to the Biggest Gig there is. I will miss you. Your family is in my prayers.’  

Black’s daughter, Stephanie Anderson, said that her mother ‘always made everyone feel special, whether it was the Summerfest board or the janitor who was just picking up trash on the grounds.

Anderson said, ‘That’s a remarkable quality that I hope my kids take from her.’

Black is survived by Trebelhorn, three children and four grandchildren.

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