Before Playboy's living logo, Hugh M. Hefner, introduced us to the GIRLS NEXT DOOR on cable, he welcomed us to the party upstairs, in syndication.
PLAYBOY AFTER DARK was the late night, television incarnation of the sophisticated men's magazine that Hefner created and published.
The talk /variety show, which was staged as a black tie party in Hef's fictitious penthouse, was produced at CBS Television City and syndicated for air on both network affiliates and independent stations across North America, between August of 1968 and May of 1970. The sixty minute show often ran in late fringe or weekend, late night timeslots.
This lavishly mounted series featured the hippest, hottest performers that
late-1960's showbiz had to offer. Pop music superstars, ranging from James Brown and B.B.KING to Steppenwolf and the Doors, appeared. The best stand-up comics of the day , including Shecky Green, Jackie Gayle,Don Rickles and Bill Cosby, were regular guests.Las Vegas lounge acts like The Checkmates LTD. were featured performers on the the show and on Playboy Club circuit.
Like the editorial content of the magazine, Hef wanted an eclectic array of guests on the show, so he would interview authors or artists, like painter Leroy Neiman.Hef's then girlfriend ,the sultry,yet wholesome Barbie Benton, was his co-host for most of the series run.The opulent,ultra-modern set was filled with alluring young women and attractive young men, moving to a mod beat while bathed in pulsating, psychedelic lighting patterns.
This was Hef's second attempt to promote and enhance the Playboy brand by using television, having hosted a similar, syndicated program entitled PLAYBOY'S PENTHOUSE, that was produced at Chicago's WBKB-TV ( now WLS-TV ) in the late 1950's.
The show's true trademark was the opening sequence. The film depicts a black ,stretch, Mercedes limousine cutting through the city ,while champagne is poured, en route to Hef's hi-rise condo, with a sparking, jazz arrangement of Playboy's Theme, by Cy Coleman setting the tempo for a night on the town.
Below are two clips from a Groovy-er time and place, baby.
First is the opening sequence to PLAYBOY AFTER DARK.Enjoy!!!!!
Next, a true member of Rat Pack royalty, the multi-talented Sammy Davis Jr., honors Hef with his presence and with a performance of I GOTTA BE ME,with a comic assist from Bill Cosby.Enjoy!!!!!