Hugh Hefner’s After Dark

By Lynda Millner   |   February 21, 2019
Hugh Hefner’s After Dark filmmaker Brigitte Berman

If the ‘50s and ‘60s were your thing, you are familiar with Hugh Hefner’s Playboy magazine and its centerfolds and interviews. I liked the interviews; my husband liked the centerfolds. During part of that era we lived in Spain. One Christmas our Spanish friends came to visit and brought gifts. As we frantically tried to find something to give in return we decided to give them some Playboy magazines. They weren’t allowed in Spanish stores. Our friends loved them so much they came to visit every Christmas.

We did have a Playboy key and visited one of the clubs in London complete with bunnies. My favorite Halloween costumes were a papiermâché rabbit head (the logo for the magazine) that we made and my bunny costume.

After moving to Santa Barbara and marrying Don, we had an opportunity to visit the Playboy Mansion in Holmby Hills in 2005 as you can see by the photo. Hugh wasn’t there but his three blonde bimbos were, being made up for a TV shoot for their series. We walked all around the property including the infamous grotto, which was steaming so much it made my hair curly.

Lynda Millner and Don Seth lounging in front of the Hugh Hefner mansion

Fast forward to the Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) this year and there was a documentary feature called Hugh Hefner’s After Dark: Speaking Out in America. The lady who made the film, Brigitte Berman portrayed a whole different side of Hef from the usual round bed, a gaggle of girls and dressed in pajamas. He was very smart, articulate, and not afraid to speak out on issues he believed in, such as politics and race relations.

Hefner had two TV series in the ‘50s and ‘60s which looked like his living room with a party going on, but was also filled with musician celebrities who entertained and more importantly the shows were all integrated at a time when that was taboo. Headliners like Sammy Davis, Jr. in Las Vegas, couldn’t stay were they performed. The film featured Smokey Robinson, Joan Baez, Tony Bennett, Whoopi Goldberg, and Bill Maher – then and now.

So if you care to get a glimpse of history and learn more about racial bias this is the film to see. And “that’s a wrap” for SBIFF 2019!


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