By Gretchen Edgren

Playmate-Bunny Lynn Karrol, Miss December 1961, a spare-time aviatrix and sky-diving buff, elevates both herself and the decor at the New York Club. Playboy, July 1963

Forty years ago tonight, on February 29, 1960, an event took place in Chicago that galvanized the entertainment industry -- and gave the world its first sex symbol for that eventful decade, the Sixties.

That was the night the Chicago Playboy Club -- the first of what would ultimately become a collection of 40 clubs, hotels and resorts around the world -- opened its doors at 116 East Walton Street, just off Michigan Avenue. In celebration, the Playboy Cyber Club today presents a re-launch of its site, with new graphics, improved navigation and other updated features -- including an exclusive Playboy Bunny retrospective pictorial featuring classic images from throughout the Club years.

Undeterred by the Windy City’s bone-chilling temperatures that Leap Year night, Playboy keyholders and their guests lined up around the block, waiting patiently for admission to what Newsweek would later call a "Disneyland for adults." Its attractions: Food, drink, entertainment and, most especially, the Playboy Bunnies. In its first month of operation, 16,800 guests passed through the Club’s doors. By December, more than 50,000 men had signed up as keyholders -- and during the last three months of the following year, the Chicago Playboy Club entertained more than 132,000 guests, making it the busiest nightclub in the world. It wasn’t long before Time was describing the Rabbit-headed metal Playboy key (supplanted by a plastic key-card in 1966) as "the closest thing to a Phi Beta Kappa from Yale," while Variety hailed the burgeoning Playboy Clubs as "20th Century Dreamworlds."

No one was more surprised than Hugh M. Hefner.


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Lynn Karrol
photo by Pompeo Posar

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