The Irish woman at the top of Hugh Hefner's Playboy empire
Life in the mansion with the bunnies and the man who made it all happen
The gods were on our side this time, and we pulled up to the gates of the famous Playboy Mansion in Beverly Hills at 9:29 a.m. on the dot.
Picture the scene -- the driveway is super narrow, made for little BMWs and Porsches. Our big roaring truck just about made it up the windy road (signs saying “Playmates at Play” welcoming us) and into the front yard of the most famous house in America – well, in California anyway.
As we took in our surroundings briefly we were met with the mansion’s press guy, Rob, who kindly gave us a tour of the downstairs before introducing us to the woman of the hour.
Of course I’d seen all the rooms before. Hef’s lounge where he catches up with friends and watches movies, the breathtaking foyer adorned with pictures and cut-outs of Hef and his girlfriends, and the dining room where we conducted our interview with 82-year-old Mary O’Connor.
ALTHOUGH extremely modest and camera shy, O’Connor kindly agreed to do this once off interview. She doesn’t give them much, so we were very pleased when she allowed us into her world.
As previously mentioned, O’Connor’s grandmother, Sarah Brigham Taner, emigrated with her siblings from Co. Tyrone in the mid-1800s for a better life in the U.S. They settled in Pittsburgh, and soon enough Sarah feel in love and married a German music professor who lived in America.
O’Connor’s father was born in 1896. The family moved around a lot and it was in Berlin, Germany that O’Connor’s parents met.
“My mother was studying music in the Berlin Conservatory of Music when she met my father,” said O’Connor.
O’Connor’s parents finally moved back to the U.S. and O’Connor was born in Chicago as Mary Feuchtinger. The O’Connor part comes from her fourth husband.
Before ever working for the founder of Playboy Enterprises, O’Connor had an exciting life. She married a man 11 years her senior when she was just 18.
“That was a big age difference when you are as spunky as I was,” O’Connor joked.
After her first marriage came to an end O’Connor married a further three times, each relationship ending.
However, a little more than 20 years ago, she finally met her soul mate, Captain Bob. I remember him from the show. They are a great couple.
O’Connor moved out to California in 1953 after she separated from her second husband.
“I always wanted to come here. My father’s sister was a screenwriter and involved in the movies and that fascinated me,” she said.
But it wasn’t the movies that caught O’Connor’s attention. It was the speed of a car.
It was through her second husband that she fell in love with the buzz surrounding racecar driving. Not only did O’Connor promote road races across the country, she competed several times in them.
As O’Connor’s life was steadily becoming hectic she was thrown into the life of playboy bunnies, Hugh Hefner and the excitement and glamour associated with the world of being sexy and rich.
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