This is the real reason that the Playboy girls were called Bunnies

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HUGH Hefner’s Playboy empire was as famous for its “Bunny girls” as it was for its saucy centrefolds.

The stunning waitresses, dressed in skin-tight Bodices with rabbit ears and tails, became an iconic part of the mogul’s brand – serving at his parties, his clubs and even on his private jet.

 Hugh Hefner with his Playboy Bunnies in 1964

Rex Features
Hugh Hefner with his Playboy Bunnies in 1964

But have you ever wondered why they were styled as bunnies in the first place?

According to the magazine mogul – who died yesterday at the age of 91 – the real inspiration behind the Playboy Bunny was a student bar from his University days.

When Hugh was a student at Illinois University, in the 1940s, his favourite hangout was a bar called Bunny’s Tavern named after its original owner, Bernard “Bunny” Fitzsimmons.

The bar, which opened in 1936, was a favourite for poverty stricken students because of its 26p daily food specials and draft beer for 8p a glass.

When Hugh set up his Playboy empire, in the 1950s, he came up with the his rabbit logo and consequently the Bunny girls as a tribute, which he revealed in a letter to the bar which now hangs on its walls.

However, he also admitted that the Bunny costume was a cheeky reference to the sexual reputation of rabbits.

 Hugh Hefner poses with Bunny girl hostess Bonnie J. Halpin at Hefner's nightclub in Chicago in 1961

AP:Associated Press
Hugh Hefner poses with Bunny girl hostess Bonnie J. Halpin at Hefner’s nightclub in Chicago in 1961

The iconic costume was designed by Zelda Wynn Valdes and made its formal debut at the opening of the first Playboy Club in Chicago in 1960.

Bunnies, who were chosen after a series of auditions, were designated roles – so they could be a Door Bunny, a Cigarette Bunny, a Floor Bunny or a Playmate Bunny.

There were also trained flight attendants, known as Jet Bunnies who served on the Playboy Big Bunny Jet.

 Playboy Bunnies line up on the tarmac at Stansted to greet Hugh Hefner, in 2011

Getty Images – Getty
Playboy Bunnies line up on the tarmac at Stansted to greet Hugh Hefner, in 2011

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 Hugh with the Bunnies at Stansted. The Jet Bunnies were trained flight attendants

Getty Images – Getty
Hugh with the Bunnies at Stansted. The Jet Bunnies were trained flight attendants

Every Bunny went through a strict training regime and had to be able to identify 143 brands of liquor and know how to garnish 20 cocktails.

They also had to master the “Bunny stance” – with legs together, back arched and hips tucked under – the “Bunny perch” for sitting on the back of a chair and the “Bunny dip”, which required them to bend their knees to serve drinks elegantly.

Dating customers was forbidden and clients are banned from touching the girls in the clubs.

 Bunny's Bar in Illinois was a favourite with students thanks to cheap food

Bunny’s Bar in Illinois was a favourite with students thanks to cheap food
 Hugh pictured with his rabbit logo in the early days of Playboy

Rex Features
Hugh pictured with his rabbit logo in the early days of Playboy

Hugh was famed for affairs a string of beautiful women, but it was a ‘devastating’ betrayal by his first wife that led to his Playboy lifestyle.

Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton are among the stars who have paid tribute to Hef since his death was announced this morning.

The founder of Playboy magazine Hugh Hefner has died aged 91
 A Playboy Bunny at Hef's London club, in Mayfair

PR/Playboy
A Playboy Bunny at Hef’s London club, in Mayfair
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