NBC Unearths Vintage Footage of Barbara Walters as a Playboy Bunny

Illustration for article titled NBC Unearths Vintage Footage of Barbara Walters as a Playboy Bunny

Gloria Steinem famously went undercover as a Playboy Bunny in 1963 for her exposé "I Was A Playboy Bunny", but did you know that Barbara Walters donned the Bunny suit a year earlier for a segment on NBC?


During Walters' long goodbye from The View Monday morning (she's not retiring for a year, people!), her colleague Whoopi Goldberg pointed out a picture included in a produced package about Walters' career of her in Playboy Bunny costume. We noticed that too Whoopi! Luckily for the world, NBC has graciously made this video available online for your viewing pleasure.

It's a basic day-in-the-life of a Playboy Club Bunny lifestyle piece, sans any hardcore reporting. "Are most of the girls embarrassed when they first put these costumes on?" Walters asks, while putting on her own. "Not hardly; I'd say one out of 143 are embarrassed," replies the woman dressing her. She continues: "I remember one girl, when she had her fitting, she ripped off her costume and ran into the closet screaming." "I think I'm two out of 143," Walters retorts. "I feel ridiculous."

Illustration for article titled NBC Unearths Vintage Footage of Barbara Walters as a Playboy Bunny

If you've read (or read about) Steinem's essay, there's not much new information revealed in this short package. Walters memorizes the Bunny Rules, realizes how uncomfortable her shoes are, and attempts to do a Bunny Dip, a move designed to gracefully put down drinks in a costume known for being constraining. "When my turn came [to serve], I felt pretty awkward," she says. "But at least I didn't spill anything on the customers."

Of course, for her day at the Club, Walters started out higher than Steinem in rank; most Bunnies began as coat check or cigarette girls. And Walters' day wasn't nearly as long as a normal one:

"Later when I left the club, the doorman asked if I wasn't taking off early. 'Well,' I replied very grandly, 'After all, I'm not a bunny. I'm a reporter for the National Broadcasting Company.' 'Gee,' he said, 'you could have fooled me.' And you know something Hugh, I must admit that secretly I think I was kind of a pleased."


That Hugh she's referring to is Hugh Downs, her co-anchor, who responded with, "You should be pleased. You make a very cute bunny," before lapsing into a dialogue about how there's really no "hanky panky whatever" allowed at the Playboy Club and it's "ridiculous" that it's criticized for being scandalous at all. He then segues to a commercial break with another very appropriate comment to say to a colleague:

"But I enjoyed seeing you as a Bunny."

Ah, Ye Olden Times.

Barbara Walters Learns the Secrets of Playboy Bunnies [NBC]

Image via NBC



I'm pretty sure that back in the 80s there was a TV movie based on Gloria Steinam's article (and wasn't Delta Burke in it?). IIRC, the bunny dip was designed so girls wouldn't constantly be bending over forward toward the table, with their entire bosom on display. So instead they bend their knees and sort of hand drinks behind them onto the table. There was a lot of hard work that went into keeping the men at arms length and making sure the girls were on display, but only so much and just enough to titilate but not be gross. It seemed like a very controlled atmosphere- look, but don't touch kind of a thing. In the movie, the female hierarchy seemed harder to deal with than the frisky customers.