In 2004, Kendra Leigh Wilkinson was hired to be one of the “painted girls” during the 78th birthday party of Playboy magazine founder, Hugh Hefner, to be held at the celebrated Playboy Mansion West. She worked the party completely nude except for a few strategically placed painted-on accessory. Taken in by the sight of the nubile blonde, the legendary ladies man – who was more than 50 years her senior – called Wilkinson personally and invited her to move in and live as one of his girlfriends at the Playboy Mansion. Wilkinson agreed and moved in with his two other buxom blonde girlfriends, Madison and Marquardt.
The unique lives of the three blonde bombshells living in the historic mansion were the focus of the hit reality series, “The Girls Next Door.” The scantily-clad trio’s frequent partying, jet setting, sexy photo shoots, and other scintillating activities made the show one of E! Entertainment’s top-rated series and the girls much sought-after celebrities. Although they were not Playmates, per se, they appeared on the cover of Playboy magazine together three times while Wilkinson nabbed her first solo cover in February 2009. The trio also co-authored a book, The Girls Next Door in 2008.
Wilkinson and her roommates frequently guest starred on television shows and films that used the Playboy Mansion and Playmates in the storylines. The trio appeared as Playboy bunnies during season 2 of the slick HBO series, “Entourage” and on the daytime drama “General Hospital. In 2005, Wilkinson guest starred as herself on “Curb Your Enthusiasm” in an episode where one of the show’s male leads traded his smoking jacket with Hefner. The trio also enjoyed a cameo in the comedy “Scary Movie 4,” appearing as themselves and having a pillow fight with the film’s lead actor, Charlie Sheen. They again appeared as Playboy bunnies in the feature film “The House Bunny” starring Anna Faris as a former Playmate forced out into the real world after she gets ousted from the Playboy Mansion. She also showed off her rapping skills in the reality competition series, “Celebrity Rap Superstar”.
Wilkinson surprised the show’s fans with her announcement on November 2008 that she was engaged to Hank Baskett, whom she had met at the Playboy Scramble earlier that year. After moving out of the mansion, she embarked on a new life with the NFL star that was documented on her own series “Kendra.” Debuting to 2.6 million viewers, the show provided a quirky look at Wilkinson as an individual and a showcase for her funny antics as she learned to cook, clean and basically prepare for her new role as wife. She also announced on the show that she was pregnant. In June of 2009 – in a wedding fit for a princess – Wilkinson exchanged wedding vows with Baskett in front of hundreds of guests, including Hefner, Marquardt and Madison, who served as bridesmaids, at the Playboy Mansion.
On Dec. 11, 2009, Wilkinson and her husband welcomed their first child together, Hank Baskett IV, an event that was, of course, covered in a televised E! special, “Kendra: Here Comes Baby.” Then, in a move that would provide her with a chance to exhibit true talent, Wilkinson joined the cast of the 12th season of the celebrity dance competition, “Dancing with the Stars.”