As the first of a long list of ensuing black Playboy models, Jennifer Jackson's appearance was not heralded as a pioneering event by Playboy magazine. In spite of the low key, normal presentation of her article and pictorial center spread, her appearance drew a large response and turned the matter into a widespread controversy.
Much like Jackie Robinson's color barrier breakthrough into major league baseball, Jennifer Jackson's debut was followed by a number of black Playboy models.
Aside from Jennifer Jackson's role as the first of many black Playboy models, other Playboy model and centerfold honorees have claimed "first" status in the Playboy realm. Margie Harrison was the first Playboy model to be chosen twice as Playmate of the Month, in January and again in June, 1954. The first three page fold-out centerfold was Marian Stafford, Miss March of 1956. Denmark's Elsa Sorensen was Playboy's first foreign-born Playmate in September, 1956.
Twins Mary Collinson and Madeleine Collinson graced the October, 1970 issue as co-Misses. Carol Eden, Miss December 1960 and Simone Eden, Miss February 1989 were the first mother and daughter to be selected as Playmates. Misses December 1998 were triplets Erica, Nicole and Jaclyn Dahm, another first.
A Playboy model that is named a Playmate of the Month does not always move on to a storied career, though the honor can serve as a platform to fame and even fortune. Several have become films actresses of some note, others continued in their modeling careers. Still others married fame, or became celebrity icons, such as Pamela Anderson. Anna Nicole Smith exploited her buxom Marilyn Monroe look-alike appearance into millions, and then married a wealthy octogenarian.
Other notable celebrities featured in Playboy magazine, though not necessarily as Playmates of the Month include women of film, music, sports and television. Film sex symbols Jayne Mansfield (February, 1955), Ursula Andress (June, 1965) and Daryl Hannah (November, 2003) are perhaps the best known Hollywood stars. Madonna and Nancy Sinatra have posed for the magazine's photographers, along with figure skater Katarina Witt and Linda Evans and Farrah Fawcett of small screen fame. Easily the most famous centerfold was Marilyn Monroe who appeared in the magazine in December, 1953.
Regardless of whether the featured models were famous or the girl next door, Playboy established a reputation for photographing beautiful women in a high quality manner, and giving the presentation a level of sophistication that separated it from its competitors. Magazine photos of Playboy models were produced in a tasteful manner that allowed the magazine to achieve acceptable coffee table status. Unlike many of men's magazines, Playboy rose above the label of a "smut" magazine. Playboy magazine could often be found as standard magazine reading at the local barbershop. At the same time, it was and still is a coveted prize for a teenage boy, finding a long term home between his mattress and box spring.