Bunny Birthday - Part 2 of 9

Lauren Hutton, actress and supermodel was a Bunny at the New York Playboy Club in 1963.

To bring his club idea to fruition, Hefner enlisted not only Lownes but also experienced Chicago restaurateur Arnold Morton. Morton left Playboy in 1973 to return to the restaurant business; his establishments are among the most popular in the Chicago area. Lownes is still with the company; as President of Playboy Clubs International, he makes his home in England, where he supervises Playboy's profitable British gaming operations.

Masterminded by the triumvirate of Hefner, Lownes and Morton, the Chicago Playboy Club was a success from the moment it opened its doors at 116 East Walton Street. Within months, 50,000 keyholders had signed up and plans were under way for expansion to other cities. As columnist Art Buchwald put it a couple of years later, "Not many people are aware of it, but Chicago has become the sex-symbol capital of the United States. Many people in Chicago think Bobby Kennedy's recent trip around the world was a secret mission for Mr. Hefner to find new locations for Playboy key clubs. The slogan of the Playboy is, of course, 'Today girls, tomorrow the world.'"

Buchwald wasn't the only observer who was bewitched by the Bunnies. Gushed a writer for "Paris Match," in a story headlined "THE NEW AMERICAN PINUP HAS RABBIT EARS": "The 'Bunny' is the best-known animal in American mythology. In case of a flood, it will surely be the first to go up the gangway of the modern-day Noah's Ark." Tony Crawley, writing in a more restrained vein for an English newspaper syndicate, simply described the Bunny as "the most fashionable status symbol for all career girls. The newest entrée to films, TV and modeling."

Norman Mailer, on a visit to the Chicago Playboy Club, was fascinated by cottontail cleavage. In his book "The Presidential Papers," Mailer described the Bunny costume's superstructure as "a phallic brassiere -- each breast looked like the big bullet on the front bumper of a Cadillac." Also intrigued was John Skow (who has subsequently become a valued contributor to Playboy); writing in the March 2, 1963 "Saturday Evening Post," he defined the Bunny as "half geisha and half double malted, in a satin swimsuit that shows what swimsuits usually show."

A group of gorgeous Bunnies await with a  friendly greeting for Hef as he disembarks the Big Bunny (his customized stretch DC-9).

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Photography by Pompeo Posar. Text and images copyright of Playboy.com.

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