Barbara Walters has become one of the most respected names in journalism, interviewing heads of state, businessmen, and celebrities. However, a clip of Walters from 1962 shows just how much she had to put up with to get to where she is today.
Walters’ Day As A Playboy Bunny
While reporting for NBC, Walters did a day-in-the-life piece about a highly controversial career: a Playboy Bunny at the famous Playboy Club. The reporter even donned the iconic costume, asking the woman dressing her, “Are most of the girls embarrassed when they first put these costumes on?”
“Not hardly; I’d say one out of 143 are embarrassed,” the woman replied. “I remember one girl, when she had her fitting, she ripped off her costume and ran into the closet screaming.” “I think I’m two out of 143,” Walters joked. “I feel ridiculous.”
Walters attempted to memorize the Bunny Rules, a manual that runs 35 pages long. “If a Bunny is untidy or late, chews gum and so forth,” Walters reported. “She gets demerits and pays a cash fine. Dating customers or drinking alcoholic beverages before or on the job means automatic dismissal.”
The journalist also tried out the signature Bunny Dip, a move designed to gracefully put drinks down on the table while wearing the constricting costume. “When my turn came [to serve], I felt pretty awkward,” Walters said. “But at least I didn’t spill anything on the customers.”
Sexist Comments From Her Co-Anchor
At the end of the day, Walters was “secretly…kind of pleased” when the doorman at the club mistook her for a real Playboy Bunny. Here’s where the clip gets cringey: her co-anchor, Hugh Downs, replied, “You should be pleased. You make a very cute bunny.”
Downs then started talking about how there’s “no hanky panky” at the clubs, due to the presence of “chaperones.” He also described the atmosphere of the club as “almost depressingly moral’,” then told Walters, “But I enjoyed seeing you as a Bunny.”
Walters went on to become the first female co-host of The Today Show, the first female co-anchor of a network evening news program (20/20), and the creator, producer, and co-host of the popular daytime TV show The View.
She was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 1989, received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2007, and is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Amazing achievements all, but especially for a woman of the mid-20th century with co-hosts like Hugh Downs.