Hugh Heftner hired the first Playboy bunny nearly 60 years ago - here's how the controversial job of Playboy's iconic women has changed

Playboy bunnyCarl Court / Getty Images

Bunnies have been a staple of the Playboy brand since it opened its first nightclub in 1960.

In the beginning, the bunnies were simply young women who worked as waitstaff in Playboy's clubs.

From 1960 to 1986, the brand ran 40 nightclubs, according to Atlas Obscura, as well as some intermittent casinos in England and the Bahamas. Prospective bunnies had to audition in order to get the job.

Since then, the term has expanded somewhat. It's even been applied to Hugh Hefner's girlfriends, who lived with him in the Playboy Mansion. Hefner ex-girlfriend Holly Madison's tell-all book is called "Down the Rabbit Hole: Curious Adventures and Cautionary Tales of a Former Playboy Bunny." Make no mistake, though - models who appear in Playboy magazine itself are "playmates," not bunnies.

With that in mind, here's a look into the controversial history of the bunnies:

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It's unlikely that any of Hefner's girlfriends — or Playboy Club bunnies, for that matter — stand to inherit anything. The mogul's own third wife will "looked after" and nothing more, thanks to an "iron-clad" pre-nup, according to the Mirror.

It's unlikely that any of Hefner's girlfriends — or Playboy Club bunnies, for that matter — stand to inherit anything. The mogul's own third wife will "looked after" and nothing more, thanks to an "iron-clad" pre-nup, according to the Mirror.

Source: Business Insider, Business Insider

Hefner died at the age of 91 Wednesday. The Playboy Mansion, where the modern-day bunnies lived, will now go to Daren Metropoulos, who bought it for $100 million last year.

Hefner died at the age of 91 Wednesday. The Playboy Mansion, where the modern-day bunnies lived, will now go to Daren Metropoulos, who bought it for $100 million last year.

Source: Business Insider

Today, the term "bunnies" is often used to describe Hefner's girlfriends, as well as Playboy Club employees. The Playboy founder's life with his girlfriends has been depicted on reality TV shows like "The Girls Next Door."

Today, the term "bunnies" is often used to describe Hefner's girlfriends, as well as Playboy Club employees. The Playboy founder's life with his girlfriends has been depicted on reality TV shows like "The Girls Next Door."

Source: Business Insider

A new Playboy Club is set to open in New York City sometime this year.

A new Playboy Club is set to open in New York City sometime this year.

Source: Forbes

While Hefner claimed to be a proponent of sexual liberation, Steinem's reporting shone a light on some of the objectification and problematic working conditions bunnies experienced.

While Hefner claimed to be a proponent of sexual liberation, Steinem's reporting shone a light on some of the objectification and problematic working conditions bunnies experienced.

Source: The Guardian, NYU

In 1963, journalist Gloria Steinem went undercover as a bunny to write an exposé.

In 1963, journalist Gloria Steinem went undercover as a bunny to write an exposé.

Source: The Guardian, NYU

In a Metro article, one former bunny reported that in the 1980s, bunnies had to be at work an hour early to dress and do their own makeup. The extra time was never paid.

In a Metro article, one former bunny reported that in the 1980s, bunnies had to be at work an hour early to dress and do their own makeup. The extra time was never paid.

Source: Metro

At the same time, workers could lose merits and wages for mistakes like messy lockers, lateness, and failing to maintain a fluffy, pristine cottontail.

At the same time, workers could lose merits and wages for mistakes like messy lockers, lateness, and failing to maintain a fluffy, pristine cottontail.

Source: Dangerous Minds

Bunnies could earn extra cash by collecting merits for working private parties, taking extra shifts, or helping management out.

Bunnies could earn extra cash by collecting merits for working private parties, taking extra shifts, or helping management out.

Source: Dangerous Minds

The job required bunnies to walk and stand around in high heels for hours. The manual offered all sorts of tips on dealing with the pain, including encouraging bunnies to roll their feet "over an empty Coke bottle."

The job required bunnies to walk and stand around in high heels for hours. The manual offered all sorts of tips on dealing with the pain, including encouraging bunnies to roll their feet "over an empty Coke bottle."

Source: Dangerous Minds

Lipstick shades should be "vivid" to avoid a "washed out" look, wigs were encouraged, hosiery was to be refrigerated after use, hands had to be manicured, and jewelry — aside from Playboy cufflinks — was strictly banned.

Lipstick shades should be "vivid" to avoid a "washed out" look, wigs were encouraged, hosiery was to be refrigerated after use, hands had to be manicured, and jewelry — aside from Playboy cufflinks — was strictly banned.

Source: Dangerous Minds

Costumes were to be worn "proudly and prettily."

Costumes were to be worn "proudly and prettily."

Source: Dangerous Minds

Unsurprisingly, some of the manual's strictest — and strangest — instructions pertained to appearances.

Unsurprisingly, some of the manual's strictest — and strangest — instructions pertained to appearances.

Source: Dangerous Minds

The manual advised bunnies to address all male Playboy Club employees "in a cheerful, cooperative manner."

The manual advised bunnies to address all male Playboy Club employees "in a cheerful, cooperative manner."

Source: Dangerous Minds

A "bunny mother" — which one Playboy Club's 1968 manual describes as a role "similar to that of a college advisor" — would be in charge of supervising the bunnies.

A "bunny mother" — which one Playboy Club's 1968 manual describes as a role "similar to that of a college advisor" — would be in charge of supervising the bunnies.

Source: Dangerous Minds

There was also a ban on drinking alcoholic beverages and gum chewing on the job.

There was also a ban on drinking alcoholic beverages and gum chewing on the job.

Source: Dangerous Minds

Bunnies working at Playboy Clubs had to abide by some strict rules. They could be immediately fired for dating other employees or guests.

Bunnies working at Playboy Clubs had to abide by some strict rules. They could be immediately fired for dating other employees or guests.

Source: Dangerous Minds

The name comes from an unexpected source. As a University of Illinois student, Hefner would sometimes dine at Bunny's Tavern in Urbana, Illinois. Apparently, the name stuck with him.

The name comes from an unexpected source. As a University of Illinois student, Hefner would sometimes dine at Bunny's Tavern in Urbana, Illinois. Apparently, the name stuck with him.

Source: The Sun

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