She never intended to be an actress, says Barbi Benton; but one thing led to another from the first day that the former Sacramento beauty queen and UCLA coed showed up for work as an extra on the set of editor-publisher Hugh M. Hefner's TV series, Playboy After Dark. To her surprise, Barbi found herself going out with Hefner that night. He soon became her steady escort; she graced the magazine twice, starting with last July's cover; and it wasn't long before she came to the attention of director Will Tremper, who was looking for a star for his film—How Did a Nice Girl Like You Get into This Business? That, against all odds, is how it happened. Barbi's first film, shot in seven major cities on two continents, details the odyssey of a girl who, after a series of misfortunes, finally meets the right man and opts for matrimony. "She's basically innocent," says Barbi, "and that's the way I am. That's why I identify with her, though I would never let myself be duped as she does. I got very involved with her story and had no problem crying when the script called for it." Over the course of their eight-year relationship, Hef introduced Barbi to fame and Hollywood while she coaxed him into parasailing, skiing and globe-trotting. Together, they epitomized a swinging romance. Barbi, who later became a country-and-western singer, starred in numerous Playboy pictorials.