(click song title above to listen)
LENNY BRUCE: “This is a kind of a…an interesting party. You know, I first figured it would be like, sort of a TV typical fake party. But it’s got a good party feeling to it, with some pretty chicks, which is a good composite.”
HUGH HEFNER: “Well, yes…the girls, and we serve real liquor. It does the trick!”
LB: “That’s what grooved me about the show. That it’s an honest…it’s actually a party. So whatever happens at a party, within, you know, limitations…”
HH: “Well, we’re trying to build the personality of the show out of the magazine itself and make the thing sort of a sophisticated weekly get-together of the people that we dig and the people who dig us. Just have ourselves a kind of late night ball”.
It was this week in 1959 that Playboy founder/editor/publisher Hugh Hefner would broadcast his first episode of the new variety television talk show, Playboy’s Penthouse. Hefner would put his personal touch on the show throughout, cruising Lake Shore Drive, party-bound, in his own Mercedes 300SL to the opening credits and an original theme song which was composed and recorded by Cy Coleman two weeks before the premiere episode. The show was filmed in downtown Chicago’s WBKB-TV studios (where decades later Oprah Winfrey began her show) and ran in syndication from 1959-1961 for 44 episodes.
The debut party included Lenny Bruce, Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, and Cy Coleman who would unveil his newest tune, “The Best is Yet to Come”, which Sinatra would soon record. It was a blatantly color-blind, happy, gutsy, unapologetic swirl of vice on-the-set with some of the greatest recording artists, comics, actors, authors, bunnies, & various other late-night dignitaries canoodling amid the smoke, the booze, and the wall-to-wall cocktail piano.
This week we feature the great arranger Nelson Riddle‘s version of the theme from his 1962 lp, Love Is A Game of Poker. If you don’t swing, please don’t ring!
Contact & Licensing info:
Original Master controlled by Capitol Records. “Playboy’s Theme” written by Cy Coleman, Published by Notable Music Co. Inc. (ASCAP). Contact: Damon Booth firstname.lastname@example.org. Administered by Downtown Music Publishing / contact: email@example.com.