Biography courtesy and copyright of Kelleigh.
Chicago is my
hometown. I was born and raised there, and to this day, I still miss
it. I've lived all over the country, but the Midwest is still home and
still evokes great memories for me. For the last 15 years my husband
Larry and I have been in Knoxville, TN, and although it was an
adjustment to begin with, we've settled in and fail to miss the snows
of the north.
When I was still
in college in the mid 60's, I noticed an ad in the Chicago Tribune for
Playboy Bunnies. It seemed doubtful to me that I'd have any chance of
being hired, but I figured I didn't have anything to lose by trying.
So, I called and made an appointment and was interviewed by the "Bunny
Mother." Of course, I was sent to the costume area and was fitted with
a Bunny outfit and sent back to the Bunny Mother to have a Polaroid
photo taken. A week later I was hired and became Bunny Kelly (although
the correct spelling is Kelleigh). I spent my tenure at the old and
especially quaint Oak Street Playboy Club.
Do any of the
rest of you remember the "training week?" It was bizarre learning all
the liquor categories, where they went on our trays when we ordered,
what everything was, what to suggest for times and occasions etc. I'll
never forget all that information and it's served me well over these
many decades since then. Of course we also had to learn the "Bunny
dip," how to apply our makeup, how to stand, how to get those false
eyelashes on properly, and many other little specialties that were
part of every Playboy Bunny's training.
I'll also never
forget those damnable three inch heels that hurt like hell the first
few weeks until I figured out I needed to buy a size larger because
standing on your feet for all those hours in heels didn't work too
well if they were the proper size. I can't tell you all how many
nights I rolled my feet on coke bottles, soaked them in hot water, and
elevated them after working a night shift. The pain was intense until
someone told me to buy another pair in a bigger size. Boy was that a
When first being
hired, it seemed as though we all got the jobs that weren't as much
fun as some. I remember being the "Camera Bunny" over and over and
over until I was so sick of it I begged not to be scheduled for that.
Of course, I much preferred waiting on the keyholders and meeting so
many people. Then I got lucky and got scheduled on the bumper pool
table, which became my favorite. Do any of you recall that we had to
pay $20 per night to rent it? Then, I believe we charged $3 a game and
of course there were tips. To this day, I'm not sure if the club had a
gentleman that quietly trained new bumper pool bunnies, but this
French gentleman taught me how never to lose. Because of him, I became
skilled in the art of bumper pool. It was a third of my income per
week from that time on. I wish I'd kept one of those "I beat the pool
bunny" pins that we gave away from time to time. It would have been a
Does anyone else
remember the wonderful Christmas baskets we got from Hef? I believe I
still have an unopened bottle of Chanel No.5 from one year. It never
was my favorite, but was very popular in the 60s.
Like all of us
that worked there, we met great people, a lot of famous folk from
local politicians to newspaper people, artists, and actors. It truly
was an exceptionally fun time. Living in the Bunny Hutch at the
Mansion on State Parkway was also great fun albeit it was like a
college dorm with bunk beds, one small closet, and a dresser that
locked. The great part of the Mansion was that it only cost us $50 per
month rent and we had full use of the facilities. Our food was
prepared for us at cost 24/7 and it was lovely. I never had a problem
with gaining weight so I enjoyed chocolate fudge sundaes many nights
after work. The Bunny Mother had me working on building my calves all
the time. It never worked; they're still like they were 35 years ago.
I don't know why I thought eating ice cream would help.
The Mansion was a
fun place. I remember seeing Shel Silverstein and Hef playing cards a
lot and never really did see Hef in anything but silk pyjamas. We did
however, meet and get to really talk to many Hollywood folk. Fondly, I
think of the night I played regular pool in the basement of the
Mansion with Bill Cosby for several hours and for a nickel a game. He
won. I saw him again years later in Dayton, Ohio and he remembered me.
Incredible. Unlike some of the Bunnies, I didn't particularly like
swimming in the pool in the Mansion knowing that the underground bar
looked through glass into the pool water and one never knew who was in
the bar. There were a great many mornings that we donned our net
stockings and shoes, put a coat over ourselves and four of us would
share a cab to the club for lunch shift. I don't think too many folks
knew we were nearly naked under our coats. Back then, the four of us
could take a cab the 5 blocks or so for 50 cents a piece amazing,
I can't remember
how many times I was tempted to date someone I met in the club, but I
was so afraid I'd lose my job that I resisted. Horror stories of
planted spies were circulated and therefore, few took the chance. I
heard years later that this rule was changed, what luck!
And oh those
merits and demerits. how I hated that antiquated system of reward and
punishment. I had a bunch of demerits at one time that took me a good
while to work off by doing insane things that I'd never have done had
the demerits not been there. The worst time for me at the club was one
night when I was walking down the stairs, my heel caught in the rug
and I went flying. Guess what popped out of my costume for all the TV
cameras to see throughout the room?! Yep, you got it; the hooters said
"HI!" to everyone! So I got up, tucked 'em back in, picked up my tray
and continued on my way to great applause. My face must have been beet
red. From then on I was extremely cautious on those carpeted stairs.
walking back through the kitchen into our dressing areas after a
shift? Do you remember the whistles, catcalls and slop on the floor
that we had to tiptoe through to avoid ruining our shoes?
The 60s and 70s
were great times. And working at Playboy made it all that much more
memorable. I actually had an album of photos from the days at Playboy,
but my apartment was burgled and someone helped themselves to the
Today, I'm a
business owner of a small wholesale commercial bakery called
"Kelleigh's Kitchen". I sell to stores in Knoxville and the
surrounding small towns. Although I'm still 115 lbs., I do believe my
height has shrunk a bit from my original 5'7½" frame. Despite baking
breads, rolls, cookies, and assorted other delicacies for 15 years,
I've kept slim because the work is so very labor intensive. Prior to
moving here I'd been in advertising for a Fortune 100 company in Ohio,
but when we moved here, replacing my income was next to impossible.
So, I made my hobby into a business and it still thrives today.
Retirement is in the not too distant future however. My gardens and
books are what draw me today. I also spent many years as a producer
for national talk radio hosts and simply loved it.
In 1984 I married
a most spectacular, kind, well-adjusted and handsome man. I have one
daughter and three grandsons that live in northern Ohio. Grandchildren
are the greatest! I suppose I could continue on about all my
experiences since Playboy, but then I'd have to write a book. I'll end
this with two quotes, the first from Bette Davis - "Old age isn't for
sissies." And the second from George Bernard Shaw - "Youth is too good
to waste on the young."
But then, for the
most part, AIN'T LIFE GRAND!!