From cocktail waitresses to centerfold models, Playboy bunnies have rocked American history with their charisma and game-changing outfits. Former Bunnies have managed to make their mark as famous actresses, journalists, politicians, and, er- convicted criminals. The original bunnies date back to the early ’60s, and some of the most influential bunnies appeared in the ’90s. No matter the decade, they’ve all given us something great to remember them by.
Gloria Steinem was an original Playboy bunny of the 1960’s. She’ll always be remembered as the undercover bunny who exposed the Playboy clubs for what they truly were. Her two-part installment of “A Bunny’s Tale”, chronicles the misogynistic agenda and rule structure placed upon Hef’s girls, as she details the “sexual revolution” that only perpetuated womanizers and disrespect towards the female gender in the early 60’s.
Before she became one of pop culture’s most iconic bleach blondes, Debbie Harry was an original Playboy bunny. In the late 60’s and early 70’s, Debbie worked in NYC’s Bunny club, until she met her future guitarist and formed the pop-punk band, Blondie. She never looked back since.
Maybe this quote is the reason why, “nothing much has changed since the Seventies,” she said. “Women need to shrug off the criticisms, as I did back in the day.”
Lauren Hutton’s days as a Playboy bunny helped catapult her to modeling stardom and eventually, she landed in the film industry. Those days were numbered, however, as she quickly quit the club after three months of ‘bunny-ing’ around. “I was a Playboy Bunny for three months. It was a good experience because it taught me [expletive] power,” she said. She moved on to become a Vogue model, even appearing on the cover and is still working as an actress.
Cheryl Hill-Gallucci was a Playboy Bunny during the 70’s and remains a Hugh Hefner enthusiast ’til this day. She currently works as an event organizer for bunny reunions, and considers her experience as an original bunny to be “life-altering.” “We had so much fun, we should have been arrested,” recalls Cheryl Hill-Gallucci. Along with many other bunnies, she found confidence in her role.
Patricia Quinn is mostly recognized for her role as Magenta in the cult classic musical, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” Before she became a controversial character and made cult film history, she was a Playboy bunny in London. She’s a fairly obscure actress and has been since her Monty Python days, but most people don’t know that she was a part of Hugh’s club before she got her big break.
Jayne Mansfield was one of the iconic blondes to grace the silver screen in the 50’s and 60’s. She was Playboy’s choice for Miss February in 1955, eventually snagging a sneaky, peek-a-boo cover for herself in 1963. Mansfield’s Playboy journey may have taken her down the nude bunny trail, but she reportedly loved very minute of it. Unfortunately, the lusted after and beloved actress died in a car crash at the age of 34.
Dorothy Stratten is one of the most talked about Playbunny bunnies since 1980, and was Playmate of the Month in August 1979. The Canadian model was one of Hugh’s favorite centerfolds and a rising actress with a promising career ahead of her. At the age of 20, Stratten’s estranged husband shot her to death and then took his own life.
June De Young
June De Young was an original Playboy bunny who worked in the Empire Club from 1985-86. She was responsible for designing the club’s bunny costumes and introduced the “rabbit” look that became exclusive to the Empire Club only. Her most fond memory from her Bunny days is perhaps the friendship she created with Andy Warhol, after serving him at the club one night. She still works in the entertainment industry as a spokesperson and television host.
Laurie “Bambi” Bembenek
Another headline-stealing bunny, Laurie “Bambi” Bembenek had a brief stint as a bunny, before becoming a police officer and marrying a detective named Fred Schultz. In 1982, Bambi was charged and convicted of murdering Fred’s ex-wife, then escaped from prison in 1990. After being extradited back to Wisconsin, she continued to maintain her innocence and her conviction was over-turned with 10 years of probation to serve. She died in Portland in 2010.
Gerrie Woo was one of the original bunnies to open the Hollywood Playboy Club in 1964. She was selected to become a bunny because of her unique, exotic charm, descending from a mixture of Mexican-Asian ancestry. She left the club to pursue a career in acting and singing, moving to Las Vegas when she was taken from her bunny lifestyle by an entertainment manager.
Kimba Wood is a historical Playboy bunny with the credentials to prove it. She trained and worked as a Playboy bunny for only a couple of weeks, but that was enough to call into question Bill Clinton’s nomination for Wood as his attorney general in 1993. She holds two degrees, one from Harvard and another from the London School of Economics, and is a federal court judge.
“Monty Python” actress, Carol Cleveland, got her start as an original Playboy bunny in London. She worked at the club for a total of six months, hoping to make connections in the film industry. When the British actress was asked about her former bunny days, she simply states that it was a “means to an end.”
Kathryn Leigh Scott
Before she was cast in the hit television series “Dark Shadows”, Kathryn Leigh Scott was a Playboy bunny at the NYC club. She only has positive things to recall about her experience as a Bunny, considering it to be the perfect supplement to her education at the American Academy of the Dramatic Arts. She interviewed over 200 former Bunnies for her book “The Bunny Years” where she recounts her own experiences, as well.
Bettie Page may be one of the most infamous pin-up models of all time, not to mention one of the most risque females of the 50’s. Her photos were sent to Hugh Hefner by a popular glamour photographer and she was consequently named one of the original Playmates of the month in Playboy’s early magazine history. Hefner idolized her, essentially calling her influence and charisma essential to the pop culture and revolution of their time.
1980’s Playboy Bunny, Shannon Tweed, was named Playmate of the Year in 1982 and Miss November in 1981. She was one of Hugh Hefner’s many partners during her time as a Bunny, eventually meeting and marrying KISS rock-star, Gene Simmons. She has appeared in many television shows and movies since the late 80’s, as well as a reality tv show starring her family.
Who else would take the honor of being Playboy magazine’s first centerfold for the debut issue in 1953? Marilyn Monroe, of course! Hugh Hefner wasn’t certain that there would be a second issue, but Marilyn’s following made sure otherwise. The actress and model went on to pursue her acting career, until her death in 1962.
Pamela Anderson may be one of the biggest paradoxes of love-hate spectrum in pop culture. The former Playboy bunny was a major staple in Hugh Hefner’s empire, taking her place on the magazine’s cover in 1989, elected Playmate of the Year in 1990, and was the last model to pose nude on Playboy’s cover in February 2016. She has appeared on more covers of the magazine than any other model, and wrote the foreword for the book “Playboy’s Greatest Covers.”
When asked what was the craziest thing to happen at the Playboy Mansion, Anderson was a bit coy. “Oh dear, so much,” she said. “But you know, when people kiss and tell, they’re usually lying. “I don’t want to get too detailed, but I’m sure one of my sons was conceived there.”
Lorna Hopper is best remembered as Playmate of the Month 1969. A Texan native, her career as a Bunny was fairly short-lived but iconic for wearing a school-girl tie on the magazine’s cover. She was 19 years old when she grabbed the cover of Playboy.
Heather Van Every
Heather Van Every was an original Playboy bunny in the early 70’s. She was chosen as Miss July in 1971 and continued to work at the Denver Playboy Club after her appearance in the magazine. Her centerfold was shown in the feature film “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.”
Carmen Electra was featured in Playboy magazine five different times, featured on the cover for three of them. Her first appearance in the magazine led to a number of television appearances and an eventual casting on “Baywatch.” She has since attended Playboy reunions and dressed up in her Bunny gear for old time’s sake and is still considered one of the most beautiful, erotic models of all time.
Being featured five times you would not think she used to consider herself as shy. On the contrary, Electra opened up about Playboy helping her get over her shyness. “I wasn’t sure at first but then I thought what a great fun opportunity it was and what a good way to get over some of my shyness,” she said.
Sandra Costa was known as the “kiwi” bunny back in her Playboy days. She worked as a bunny at the New York City and Miami clubs for almost ten years. Today, she works with many international celebrities and other domestic clients as an architectural designer.
Judy Bruno Bennett
Judy Bruno Bennett was an original Playboy Bunny who worked at the New York City club for 11 years until hanging up her ears in 1982. After making a career out of being a bunny, the natural redhead has dabbled in a little acting.
Joy Tarbell was one of the most popular, original Bunnies. She was chosen to be a part of the first group of jet bunnies to fly on the Bunny Jet, and was the inspiration for the first Playboy figurine that celebrated the empire’s 45th anniversary. Joy worked in the Chicago and Boston Playboy Clubs and lived in the Chicago mansion for 5 years.
Sandra Settani was the Playmate of the Month in 1963. She modeled for an iconic shoot, on the rear end of a ship. This was her only centerfold for the magazine, but she continued to work as a model for some time after her bunny days.
Bunny Deana was a club-crowd favorite in London from 1969 until 1972. In her first year as a bunny, she was crowned as London’s Bunny of the Year and competed in the International Bunny of the Year Pageant. She was awarded by 1969’s James Bond, George Lazenby. She appeared in the magazine during 1970, but never chose to be a centerfold.
Katy Mirza became a Playboy bunny in 1973 after being spotted by a club employee in London. She was rumored to have had a chest reduction that decreased her bra size by 10 inches, making major news in the small industry. She moved to television and film after her bunny days, familiar to most Bollywood fans in the world.
Dolly Martin started out as an English actress working in British television. She worked as a club bunny in Chicago, London, and New York. In May 1966 she became Playmate of the Month and posed for the magazine once more in 1970.
As far as how she got involved with Playboy, the story is simple. “There was an ad in the paper, and my girlfriend was going, and I said ‘I’ll go with you,'” she said. “They wanted six girls to come to America to train for six months at the Chicago Playboy club, and then go home and interview people and open the London Playboy Club.”
Marie Richwine is reportedly the first Latina Playboy Bunny, born of Colombian descent. She worked as a bunny over four years before retiring to focus on her acting. She became a successful film star and print model.
Candace Jordan Collins
Candace Collins was a Playboy centerfold in the year 1979. She currently works as a writer and has her own column in Chicago’s Sunday Tribune. She has also spoken out against Playboy’s recent decision to eliminate full-frontal nudity from the website. She has appeared on 20 magazine covers, seven of which were Playboy.
Recently, she was asked if she could have ever imagined living in the Playboy mansion. “I had no idea that I would move right into the playboy mansion,” Collins said. “I’m driving my little MGB up [Interstate] 55, my eyes were getting bigger and bigger and the skyline was getting bigger and bigger. It was like entering the Land of Oz.”
Barbara Camp was a Playboy bunny who worked at the Lake Geneva Club in Wisconsin during 1974. She was a bunny mother, which was an employee of the club who hired, trained, scheduled, and even weighed her younger Bunnies. She was ordered to monitor and maintain the diet and behavior of employed bunnies, and ran the club according to Hef’s guidelines.
Marcia Roma was a proud Playboy Bunny from 1963 until 1973. She was unique original, and worked four of the most famous and populated Playboy clubs; New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Miami. After her retirement from Playboy world, she became the Senior Vice President of the Fox Residential Group.
Susan Sullivan was a Playboy bunny in the 1960’s who lived for her gig. She may be a famous film and television actress now, but when she was a student at Hofstra she worked as a bunny to support herself. Working at the New York City Club, she was a bunny who brought in a profit for the establishment.
Jacklyn Zeman worked as a Playboy bunny in the early 70’s, but had reportedly refused to be a centerfold for the empire’s magazine. She modeled and acted professionally while she attended NYU, eventually landing a role on “One Life To Live”, followed by her iconic part as Bobbie Spencer on “General Hospital.” She still works as a famous soap opera actress today.
As far as her bunny days are concerned, she said they were very easy. “The Bunny thing was easy,” she said. You showed up, did it, left. A no-brainer work-wise and perfect job if you were going to school.”
Jan Marlyn Reesman
In between the years 1962-1970, Jan Reesman worked as a Playboy bunny in the Miami, Chicago, and New York City clubs. She was hired at the Miami club at the age of 16, lying about being 23 so she could get the job. She was fired when club owners found out she was a minor but was legally hired at the Chicago club when she turned 18. She then worked alongside Debbie Harry and Lauren Hutton, opening the New York City club together.
Donna Michelle is best known as Playboy’s Playmate of the Year, 1964. She was also Playmate of the Month in December 1963. She was only 17 years old when she first appeared in the magazine, causing controversy among the public.
Marilyn Cole made Playboy history as the magazine’s first full-frontal, nude centerfold. In 1972 she was chosen as Miss January, eventually being selected as Playmate of the Year in 1973. She was the only British bunny to claim a Playmate of the Year title.
Darine Stern was the first African-American woman to appear on Playboy’s magazine cover in 1971, without any other models accompanying her. After her Bunny days, she moved on to a modeling career represented by Ford Models. She died of breast cancer in 1994.
Honor Blackman was a 1960’s Bunny who worked at the London club. A seductive Bond Girl of 1964, Honor moved on to a largely successful acting career and is still active in the industry today. She has verbally chronicled her experience as a bunny in the documentary “The Bunny Years”, along with other historical Playboy women.
Tanya Beyer is another Bunny gone bad. She was chosen as Playboy’s Miss February in 1992, and made waves as a video girl during the 90’s. She was convicted of shopping and trafficking painkillers in South Florida in 2010.
Erika Eleniak was a Playboy bunny in 1989 before she got her big break on “Baywatch.” She was the chosen as Playmate of the Month in July and posed for the centerfold of the issue. Ironically enough, she went on to appear in more wholesome television shows such as “Charles in Charge”, and “Full House” during the 90’s.