“Towards the end of her book Playboy Laughs, Patty Farmer had this to say about the Playboy magazine empire and its iconic founder-publisher Hugh Hefner: “Through his groundbreaking clubs, TV shows, and jazz festivals, Hefner provided a vast network of venues where artists could develop and hone their craft and audiences could enjoy the latest and greatest in live entertainment … at its peak, Playboy was the largest employer of entertainment talent in the country.” – By: Stuart Nulman
“Hugh Hefner’s Playboy empire has infiltrated our culture on so many levels since its inception over half a century ago in 1953. From that first issue with a gleeful Marilyn Monroe on its cover, the magazine has set the gold standard for the debonair, sexually-liberated man who cares about the finer things in life as much as the wholesome (and naked) girls who would grace the centerfold. Or such was the spin. But Playboy’s influence goes way beyond that. Author Patty Farmer, the high priestess of the Playboy archives, is here to show us just how impactful that brown-paper-covered publication could be and she’s doing it with heart and hilarity.” – Ellen Fagan in Read
Patty’s follow-up to Swings—which will be released August 3—is Playboy Laughs, a book that concentrates on the comedic side of Hefner’s empire. (You don’t need to be familiar with the earlier book to enjoy Laughs, because there are some stories repeated here.) I should be honest—when I requested a review copy (many thanks to my Facebook compadre Jeff Abraham at Jonas PR, who slipped me the freebie) of this book I thought it was going to be a little out of my wheelhouse at Thrilling Days of Yesteryear. – Ivan G Shreve Jr
“In her new book, Playboy Laughs: The Comedy, Comedians, and Cartoons of Playboy (Beaufort Books, 2017), Patty Farmer examines the relationship between Hugh Hefner’s Playboy empire and some of the most influential comedians and cartoonists of the past 50 years. Farmer explores the ways in which the Playboy Clubs and Resorts of the 1960s and 1970s established spaces for comedians to hone their acts, get paid, and started the careers for many comedians and musicians.” Dr. Rebekah J. Buchanan
PLAYBOY LAUGHS: THE COMEDY, COMEDIANS, AND CARTOONS OF PLAYBOY
By Patty Farmer [Beaufort Books]
“In the 50s, 60s and 70s, Playboy was the hub of activity for progressive ideas. Hugh Hefner supported artists fomenting social and sexual revolutions. And that extended to comedy. This informative and enjoyable book by Patty Farmer gives readers an overview of the stand-up phenomenon, from its roots in vaudeville and burlesque to the Catskills, moving through daring club comics like the political Mort Sahl and the high-risk Lenny Bruce. Hefner never shied away from a battle with the puritanical elements of society, so he unwaveringly supported the controversial and persecuted Bruce. Farmer’s coverage continues into more modern laugh-getters, like George Carlin. Hefner’s Playboy Clubs not only showcased the top comedians, but provided launching pads for tons of new talent. You’ll find stories about, or recollections from, a diverse collection of performers, old school and newer wave, including Shecky Greene, Myron Cohen, David Brenner, Larry Storch, Tom Dreesen, Jackie Gayle, Joe E. Lewis, Fred Willard and Professor Irwin Corey. The Playboy Clubs paved the way for Dick Gregory to reach white audiences. He details how Hefner helped in the struggle to forge a more open and equitable society. And Hefner, despite the magazine’s image, promoted equality for women. Ground-breaking comediennes like Phyllis Diller, Lily Tomlin and Joan Rivers benefited. Ever the hospitable host, Hefner showcased comics not only at his clubs, but on his TV shows “Playboy’s Penthouse” and “Playboy After Dark.” Farmer also explores the humor Hefner featured in the magazine itself, particularly the cartoons of artists like Shel Silverstein, Jules Feiffer, Don Orelek, Clive Collins, Dean Yeagle and Doug Sneyd. With this book (a followup to her 2015 volume “Playboy Swings”), Farmer serves up a fun-fueled read that offers insights into the multifaceted world of Playboy and our nation’s parade of popular humor.” Paul Freeman
“One of New York’s biggest film stars isn’t even a person…it’s The Plaza, the legendary hotel on Central Park where numerous classic movies have been shot. Author Patty Farmer reverently captures the allure of the fabled place in her new book “Starring the Plaza”, which pays tribute to one of Gotham’s truly grand dames (she dates back to 1907). Cinematically, some celluloid gems stand out in our minds: Cary Grant being kidnapped there in North By Northwest, Streisand and Redford as briefly reunited former lovers outside the hotel in The Way We Were and Walter Matthau starring in numerous Neil Simon comedy skits in Plaza Suite. The wonderful anecdotes are accompanied by 180 photos, making this an irresistible addition to any movie lover’s book collection.” Lee Pfeiffer
“I’ll never forget my first visit to the Plaza Hotel, and I daresay no one else could, either. But I never realized how often it has been featured onscreen until I started browsing this attractive book, which is filled with terrific photos (both black & white and color) and anecdotes.” Leonard Maltin
“Patty Farmer’s new book, Starring The Plaza: Hollywood, Broadway, and High Society Visit the World’s Favorite Hotel is a wonderful look into the role this famous Manhattan hotel has played in show business throughout the decades. The status and glamour of The Plaza throughout the years certainly hasn’t diminished, and anyone with an interest in classic or modern film will certainly have heard the Plaza Hotel mentioned or seen the hotel featured in various film scenes, entered into conversation, or used as the setting for a celebrity interview or press junket.” Julie’s Film and Book Reviews
Few hotels have shone in the spotlight like The Plaza in New York City, a 19-story French Renaissance-style building on the corner of Fifth Ave. and Central Park that’s regarded as one of the grandest hotels in the world. Starring the Plaza (Beaufort Books), by pop cultural historian Patty Farmer, chronicles the many times The Plaza was the place to be for movies, TV shows and commercials, Broadway premiers, music videos and lavish press events—as well as the general swirl of high society as the top stars of every era since the 1950s took a bite of the Big Apple. – The Parade Preview: What to Watch, Rent or Buy July 31 – Aug. 6, 2017
EXCLUSIVE FIRST LOOK: Plaza? Sweet!
When you think of big New York movie stars, there’s De Niro, and Woody Allen — and The Plaza Hotel, which has been the setting for scores of films since it opened 110 years ago. – Bill Newcott’s Movies for the Rest of Us
Compiled by pop-culture historian Patty Farmer, with a foreword by veteran actress Mitzi Gaynor, the book features archival images of stars who have flocked to the hotel since its opening in 1907. – On Set at the Plaza Hotel by Sarah Nechamkin
“Story after story makes the historical parts, musical interviews, great celebrity photos and biographical interludes speed by in a torrent of juiciness to the point where you will not want this book to end.” Mike Greenblatt of BLOGARRHEA as posted in Classicalite.
“I commend your attention to “Playboy Swings!: How Hugh Hefner and Playboy Changed the Face of Music,” a well-researched, fascinatingly detailed new book by Patty Farmer that comes out next month. Written with the assistance of Will Friedwald, a frequent contributor to the Journal, “Playboy Swings!” goes a long way toward answering that question.” Terry Teachout – The Wall Street Journal
As the author points out, “Thanks to its intelligent and relentless coverage of the genre, Playboy helped turn jazz into something that sophisticated young men listened to on their newly purchased hi-fi system while holding martinis. Read more of the WWOZ book review by clicking here.
So, first Playboy announces that they are discontinuing putting nude pictures in their magazine. Now, author Patty Farmer puts out a book chronicling Hugh Hefner’s commitment to jazz. What’s next, Barbi Benton singing at the Blue Whale? Truth be told, Hugh Hefner has always had a deep commitment to melding jazz as part of the suave male lifestyle. He had annual “Best Jazz Artist”polls, and his interviews with the likes of Miles Davis were legendary. In fact, I snuck in under the card of some stranger to be able to catch Earl Hines perform at the Century City club back in the 70s. Still one of my fondest musical memories… Be sure to read the rest of the Jazz Weekly article by George W. Harris.
We all know Playboy’s biggest claim to fame, but the magazine has of course long been respected for its journalism and high-quality fiction too. This book argues that something else is equally important: Playboy, as a magazine and as an empire, may be thought of for boobs first, but the very next thing that should come to mind is music. Indeed, Hugh Hefner’s love of jazz inspired not just articles in the magazine, but festivals, concerts at the Playboy Clubs, and performances on his various television shows. Writer Patty Farmer (yes, an ex-model) claims that Playboy is a ‘lifestyle’, of which music is an essential element, and makes a solid case for the 50s and 60s music scene owing a lot to the magazine… Be sure to read the rest of The Flashback article by Aaron Milenski.
For Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner, music, specifically the jazz that he adored, was always part of a greater game plan. From the start “Hef” envisioned his venture defining a total lifestyle, of which the flagship magazine and its nothing-to-the-imagination centerfolds were never the whole story. Playboy, since its 1953 inception, published quality prose, and music journalism and jazz-focused readers’ polls were part of the mix. The very first issue—the one offering then-scandalous, now-epochal nude photos of Marilyn Monroe—included a feature article on the Dorsey brothers, and in subsequent issues writers and critics regularly weighed in on the pros and cons of current jazz, recommending with authority the LPs that every hip Playboy reader should spin at his next cocktail party. Written by Jeff Tamarkin – JazzTimes
While there’s no doubt that Hefner has branded Playboy into a multi-dimensional world-wide entertainment conglomerate over the past six decades, author Patty Farmer, in her new book “Playboy Swings: How Hugh Hefner and Playboy Changed the Face of Music,” reveals a much different side of Hefner. Don Saint-James of Eurweb.com
‘PLAYBOY SWINGS’ PUTS SPOTLIGHT ON HUGH HEFNER AND THE BUSINESS OF MUSIC – MIRIAM DI NUNZIO Chicago Sun-Times.com
If you would like to think of Hugh Hefner as something more than a pajama wearing old man who “dates” several young women at once on a tv show, then you will be happy to know that the Playboy magazine founder is a very central figure in jazz history. Posted by Book Dude – BookSpin Review
“As I finished the very enjoyable Playboy Swings! I couldn’t help but be a little jealous. As a card carrying member of Generation X, I missed quite a bit of fun. But through Playboy Swings! I could visit the Playboy Club and enjoy the musical vibes of its legendary jazz festivals vicariously. Bunny ears off to Patty Farmer and Playboy Swings!” Posted thebookshelfblog
“In the early days of the magazine, Hugh Hefner controlled everything when it came to the operation of the magazine and he loved jazz music since he was a teenager. So he could have written an article about something political or do an editorial, but he decided one of the first articles to appear in that inaugural issue was about the Dorsey Brothers,” said Patty Farmer, author of the new book Playboy Swings. By Stuart Nulman – mtltimes.ca
What makes this book so wonderful is the way Farmer’s vividly descriptive language takes the reader back on a journey through a time and place populated by the rich and the famous. It brings to life not just the original Playboy Jazz Festivals, but the whole scene: the Playboy Clubs, “Lanie’s Room” (Lanie Kazan’s designated Playboy Room at The Los Angeles Club),Playboy After Dark, and through all of Hefner’s passionate business ventures and relationships. Devon Wendell – The International Review of Music
“Like the magazine she celebrates, Patty Farmer’s Playboy Swings! How Hugh Hefner and Playboy Changed the Face of Music is a cocktail party that you never want to see end.” Mark Squirek – New York Journal of Books
“For anyone interested in the good old days of jazz, rye old-fashioneds and life after dark, this book brings back the music, rough glamour and excitement of the Playboy Empire in all their exhilarating, ground-breaking glory. Patty Farmer’s Playboy Swings is well-researched, breezily written, incredibly informative, and a lot of fun.” REX REED
“PLAYBOY SWINGS is an intimate look at what went on in the clubs, the racial barriers they helped to eliminate, and the careers that skyrocketed from the Playboy Club stages. This is as entertaining as an evening at a club itself. Four “Bunny Tails” for the effort.” BILL BOGGS Television Host and producer.
“For decades, Playboy and jazz have been linked with the same warm and loving intimacy present between Hugh Hefner and beautiful women. And no matter how much the world has turned toward rock and roll, Hef and Playboy has continued to embrace jazz, America’s greatest music. Patty Farmer’s richly readable “Playboy Swings” tells the full tale of this passionate, still fervent love story.” DON HECKMAN, The International Review of Music.
“Playboy is Hugh Hefner and this book will delightfully give you some wonderful insight into his contributions to the world; to the United States of America. He is in fact a humanitarian. I still feel that music brings together more people of all cultures, genders and taste for a good time. Nothing like it!” BILL COSBY
“Playboy Swings shows that Hugh Hefner didn’t care if you were black, white or purple, only if you were funny or could sing.” DICK GREGORY
“Playboy was, in its prime, less a magazine than a kit of tools to make men feel worthy of the perfect women in its pages, and sophisticated taste in music — a taste for jazz — was the best tool it provided. Patty Farmer does full justice to this largely forgotten, essential story in American cultural history.” DAVID HAJDU, professor of arts and culture, Columbia University
“We (Greg, My Father and Myself) were discovered at the Chicago Playboy Club which led to us being on The Tonight Show around 25 times. Playboy and Johnny Carson propelled our act (Hines, Hines and Dad) to the next level. Thank you Playboy and Johnny Carson for the success that I’m still enjoying to the day.” MAURICE HINES
“HH….His Playboy Clubs promoted laughter and music. Comedians, hot little jazz combos and singers were staples of his supper clubs. His festivals brought the legends of jazz to the world. His impact was huge. Music and laughter – healing stuff. The BALM.” and Playboy Swings really tells the story. AL JARREAU
“In Playboy Swings, Patty Farmer tells the story of Hugh Hefner intermingling of Playboy and jazz over the past 60+ years. Farmer hasn’t missed a thing in her voluminous research. The birth of Playboy? Check! The history of the Playboy Jazz Festival? Check! The Playboy Club? Check! Playboy After Dark? Check! Playboy Records? Check! Farmer has also interviewed seemingly every musician, entertainer and employee of the various music-related Playboy ventures and wisely lets them tell their own stories, making for an endlessly entertaining look at when jazz–and Playboy–was king.”~Ricky Riccardi, Author of What a Wonderful World: The Magic of Louis Armstrong’s Later Years and Director of Research Collections at the Louis Armstrong House Museum.
“One would not immediately think of Hugh Hefner as an important contributor to the jazz scene of the 1950s and early 60s but he was all of that and more. The magazine, the TV shows, the Jazz Festivals and the Playboy Clubs were important components in the promotion of jazz artists. Playboy and its associated enterprises brought the music to people who might otherwise not be aware of it. All this is neatly documented by Patty Farmer in PLAYBOY SWINGS. She has interviewed the right people and produced an eye-opening account of a largely forgotten era when jazz appreciation was part of the hip way of life. “ ~Bob Porter, jazz historian, record producer, WBGO radio host
Mirroring Hugh Hefner’s penultimate passion, Playboy has demonstrated an avid interest in jazz since the magazine’s debut issue in 1953. And in this lively anecdotal survey, author and former model Patty Farmer offers a behind-the-scene glimpse of how Playboy’s jazz festivals, key clubs, and magazine enthusiastically celebrated America’s only original art form. Farmer combines the voices of Playboy execs, managers, and Bunnies, and scores of celebrity musicians and performers to shape an entertaining oral history that attests to Playboy’s role as a major proponent in the resurgent popularity of jazz during the mid and late twentieth century. Mel Watkins author of On the Real Side: A History of African Comedy and Stepin Fetchit: The Life and Times of Lincoln Perry.
“Hugh Hefner and Playboy have a legacy of nurturing and supporting jazz, particularly women in jazz. Patty Farmer has documented Playboy’s indisputable, pivotal role in the music. I can’t imagine any contemporary not clamoring to headline at the Playboy Jazz Festival. That’s a career making achievement!” – DEE DEE BRIDGEWATER
Ms. Farmer paints a fascinatingly detailed portrait of the first-ever Playboy Jazz Festival. Held in the magazine’s original headquarters city of Chicago, Hefner & company’s first festival faced down several obstacles, in addition to the ongoing theme of certain conservative perceptions of the parent magazine. The odyssey of its chosen venue is detailed, ranging from Hef and company’s original intent to present at Soldier Field, which was shot down by the looming specter of the Third Pan-American Games, to be staged later that summer at that very stadium. Eventually the event landed at what was then known as the old Chicago Stadium, the city’s indoor basketball and hockey palace. The event ran the weekend of August 7, 1959 featuring a virtual who’s who of the music: Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Dave Brubeck, Oscar Peterson, Coleman Hawkins, Jack Teagarden, Sonny Rollins, Pee Wee Russell and a host of others. To read the review in its entirety, please read The Independent Ear‘s blog on Open Sky Jazz.
“The Playboy phenomenon was not just about sex and glamorous women, it was more about lifestyle and music,” Farmer says. “The finest jazz, in particular, was a personal passion of Hefner.
The remarkable and historically accurate book Playboy Swings: How Hugh Hefner and Playboy Changed the Face of Music, author Patty Farmer explores the remarkable way Hugh Hefner’s efforts resulted in a legacy that continues to influence the American music and entertainment landscape. To read the review from Engchik in its entirety, simply click here.
More to come!
“Once upon a time, the Persian Room was rated among the best of the swank nightspots in New York City, taking its place with the Copa and the 21 Club. Farmer, a lover of all things cabaret and high style, fondly takes the reader back to the glory days of the Plaza Hotel’s elegant, sophisticated supper club, which showcased top-drawer acts in a posh setting of ruby-colored chairs, crimson velvet drapes, and a 27-foot-long bar. From 1934 to its closing in 1975, the Persian Room was a romantic, cherished escape from the bitter realities of the world, with fine food and cocktails, and stellar talents such as Hildegarde, Victor Borge, Julie Wilson, Andy Williams, Polly Bergen, Bob Hope, Lillian Roth, Carol Channing, Edie Adams, Dinah Shore, Ethel Merman, Robert Goulet, and Frank Sinatra. With such a tribute, there is a sizable amount of name dropping and light gossip, including singer Connie Stevens meeting hubby Eddie Fisher there and Celeste Holm’s dates with John F. Kennedy. Achieving a magical sense of time travel in photos and text, Farmer’s homage to the Persian Room is a return to golden memories at a mythical venue unlike any other.” – Publisher’s Weekly
“Congratulations on a mammoth job well done!! Reading The Persian Room Presents is like sitting ringside or sharing an after-the-show moment with dear friends from the decades of the magical reign of the Persian Room. You captured the majesty of an Age of Entertainment long gone.” – Carol Lawrence
“Some of my happiest days and nights were spent in the Plaza Hotel and the Persian Room. Kay Thompson and The Williams Brothers packed them in every night. We were the talk of the town. Great memories! Thank you, Patty.” – Andy Williams
“Within the first few pages of this wonderful book, I was transported back in time to the Persian Room of the Plaza Hotel and the magic that was New York City in the late fifties and early sixties. With The Persian Room Presents, Patty captures the innocence but also the elegance of an forgotten time and delicately places it in a bottle for us to experience all over again.” –Tony Butala, The Lettermen
“Eloise was born in The Persian Room and raised in The Plaza.” – Hilary Knight
“The Persian Room Presents is a fabulous retrospective of the Persian Room in its heyday. For more than 40 years it was the place to be. The extraordinary talent that graced the room throughout the years included Hildegarde, Liberace, Kay Thompson (and Eloise), Miles Davis, Billie Holiday, Diahann Carroll, and Frank Sinatra, among many others. People who never had the good fortune to experience the Persian Room firsthand will read Patty Farmer’s book and hear the music.” – Lainie Kazan
“Patty Farmer—what pleasure you have given to us all. I am thrilled that you have brought the wonderful Persian Room back to life in such grand style. The Persian Room Presents is a fitting and delightful tribute to one of the greatest night spots of all time, in one the greatest cities in the world. You’ve included hilarious, heartwarming stories and brought back great memories. Bravo!” – Barbara Van Orden
“I was delighted to lay hands on Patty Farmer’s memorable nostalgic work.” – Liz Smith
“Reading Patty Farmer’s The Persian Room Presents is like a reservation for a ringside table at the world’s most elegant nightclub—complete with champagne cocktails and a jazz trio!” – Julie Wilson
“The Persian Room Presents is a wonderful remembrance of a past time of glamour and talent.” – Alan Caruba; Bookviews
“Reading the reminiscences of the many incandescent stars that passed across the tiny stage of the Persian Room is like a return visit to a place I thought was gone forever. Many thanks Patty for The Persian Room Presents.” – Don Dellair
“Patty, thank you for putting together such a brilliant book and cherishing something so dear to my heart. Revisiting my own experience at the Plaza was quite wonderful and I have no doubt your readers will find the journey both pleasant and eye-opening.” – Celeste Holm
“It seems that today everyone wants to revisit a time when we loved to sing and dance and all you had to worry about was where you put your coat check. The Persian Room Presents will transport readers back to that elegant time. Relax and have fun!” – Michele Lee
“Patty Farmer has written a compelling story of the times and talents of the legendary Plaza Hotel’s Persian Room. Her love and respect for her subjects are evident without being forced upon us. Not only is The Persian Room Presents well written, it captures a time of glamour and sophistication in New York City. The pleasure of this book comes from remembering and longing for that time again.” – Betty Johnson Gray
“A hotel is more than a building; it’s the guests, the staff, and the entertainers that create the magic. For many years, the Plaza was the pinnacle of the hotel Industry. People walked through the foyer just to say they’d been there and the Persian Room was the centerpiece of the magic. Patty Farmer has captured that magic and included memories of the great and special times that need to be remembered. The Persian Room Presents is a must-read with wonderful visuals and poignant quotes direct from the great ones in entertainment.” – Ed Fuller, Former President and Managing Director, Marriott International
“Patty Farmer transported me back to a time in New York City that I often forget. She makes a long-ago time seem like yesterday. I luxuriated in the descriptions of the hotel, the restaurants, the suites, and of course the Persian Room. Working at the Plaza was like entering another world…I will forever be spoiled by the remarkable month I spent there. –Lesley Gore
“My first New York cabaret appearance was at the fabulous Persian Room. It was absolute magic. Patty Farmer helps us relive that very special time that we all wish we could all have back again.” – Leslie Uggams
“For any fan of the greatest city in the world this is truly not a gift, it’s a treasure.” Amy Lignor for Feathered Quill Book Reviews
“…Patty Farmer presents a dedicated and much recommended pick. The Persian Room Presents is very much recommended for any history collection focusing on New York City and entertainment.” – Willis M. Buhle for The Midwest Book Review