One night, when Dolores Kirby worked as a Playboy bunny in Miami, she accidentally asked Hugh Hefner for his "Playboy key" because she couldn't see his face in the dark.
The key with the rabbit head was required for club members.
"We always had to ask for the members' key, to see that they had a key," said Kirby, now 86, of Hollywood. "I was a little flustered, but I got myself together."
The news that her former boss, Hefner, had passed away last week got Kirby reminiscing about her glamorous days working at his Miami club.
The club's opening in 1961 at 7701 Biscayne Blvd. was "the big excitement of the year," she said.
Kirby was one of more than 375 women who auditioned for the coveted job of bunny at the Playboy Club by the Miami River. According to a Miami News story, the club sought to hire 40 women for positions that paid $9,000 to $12,000 a year.
"I thought that would be kind of neat," said Kirby, who was a model. "You are a glorified waitress. To me, it was a job. It was glamorous, but it was hard work."
She had a number of work uniforms in different colors, including emerald green, turquoise and pink ones.
"Everybody had to have a black one. That was standard," she said of the costume with the trademark ears, bow tie and tail.
She remembers Hefner as "a very quiet man around the club. He smoked his pipe and drank diet Pepsi," she said. "Very nice, though."
She also remembers the strict rules that came with the job.
"We used to get demerits if our bunny tail wasn't clean, or if we didn't have all the equipment on our tray," she recalls.
Her Playboy bunny career was short-lived. Kirby said she was let go in 1963, after managers learned she was older than 25. She said she had told managers that she was 23 during the hiring process, even though she was really 31. Bunnies had to be between the ages of 21 and 25 to work for the club, according to news clips.
Before the Playboy Club, she had worked at the Mai-Kai Restaurant in Fort Lauderdale. After the Playboy Club, she waitressed at the the former Mouse Trap in Miami.
While she was a waitress, she also modeled for 22 years. One of her photo shoots was for the city of Miami Beach in the 1960s. In the shots promoting tourism, she donned a bikini and held up a sign that read: "Welcome to Miami Beach!"
Kirby said she's been married and widowed twice. She doesn't have any children.
Looking to make extra money age 65, she worked as a chauffeur in south Broward County, driving around retirees. She retired from that job when she was 79.
But it's the Playboy job that she's asked about the most.
"It was a great time," she said. "It was a really fun time."
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