PHOENIX - Hugh Hefner, the iconic founder of Playboy Magazine and reality show star, died last week. As polarizing as he was influential, he left behind a controversial legacy.
But did you know he also left his mark right in the heart of downtown Phoenix?
In addition to a couple of mansions, Hefner launched a successful chain of Playboy Clubs around the world.
Number six opened in Phoenix in 1962 in the old Mayer Central building. It closed in 1983.
Former Playboy Bunny Gigi McMillan worked different Playboy Clubs for nearly two decades. Phoenix was her last stop.
She said in the club’s heyday, the '60s through the '80s, bunnies catered to high society in Phoenix.
“Actually, I had some pictures with James Garner and Clu Gulager. I met so many of them,” McMillan said.
Web Ellis was the general manager of the Phoenix Playboy club from '66 to '72. He saw the likes of former Arizona secretary of state and later governor Wesley Bolin, former Phoenix mayor Milton Graham, actor Joe E. Ross, from the TV show “Car 54,” and athletes like Hot Rod Hundley, who frequented the club.
The bunnies of course drew the crowds.
But so did the music. It was the hottest place around to hear the best jazz in the Southwest.
To experience all this, members payed $25 a year to hang out on the eighth floor of the building near Thomas Road and Central Avenue.
The building is still around, and the memories will last forever.
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