Dashing, swarthy, and hip as a swizzle stick, Dominican gadabout Porfirio Rubirosa gave society columnists endless fodder during his '40s and '50s heyday. Thanks to Shawn Levy's meticulous research and well-honed imagination, the swaggering heartbreaker who romanced Zsa Zsa Gabor, married Barbara Hutton, and charmed Doris Duke out of a French manse comes back to full-bodied life. ''He was an ideal of the part, the very image of the Latin lover,'' writes Levy, ''and the world ate it up.'' He was also a longtime foot soldier for murderous Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo and lived under a cloud of suspicion for decades. Levy makes Playboy both a fitting elegy for a forgotten boldfaced name and a thoughtful study of mid-20th-century Pan-American politics.