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James Bond and PLAYBOY Part 1

Founded in Chicago in 1953 by Hugh Hefner (1926-2017), PLAYBOY is an American lifestyle and entertainment magazine famous for its centre-folds and pictorials of nude and semi-nude women (from March 2016 the printed version of the magazine no longer featured full-frontal nudity, although this returned in the March/April 2017 issue when PLAYBOY became a bi-monthly publication). Alongside interviews with well-known public figures, PLAYBOY also has a long history of publishing short stories and novels by some of the world's most notable writers. Ian Fleming's 1959 short story THE HILDEBRAND RARITY was first published in the March 1960 issue of PLAYBOY accompanied by a superb illustration by artist Allan Phillips. The story was then published in the UK on April 11, 1960 by Jonathan Cape as part of the FOR YOUR EYES ONLY anthology. The US edition was published by Viking Press in August of the same year. The March 1960 issue of PLAYBOY therefore contains the first printed publication of THE HILDEBRAND RARITY, a month ahead of its UK hardcover debut. At this time PLAYBOY was not as widely available outside the USA, and only obtainable via selected outlets and newsstands in the UK, or via subscription.

PLAYBOY - THE HILDEBRAND RARITY illustrated by Allan Phillips

By the mid-1960s PLAYBOY, and it's ubiquitous bunny logo designed by Art Paul (1925-2018), had become a global brand and also operated exclusive clubs across the USA, and selected cities worldwide. The first PLAYBOY Club opened in Chicago in 1960, with the London club opening on June 30, 1966, made possible following the legalization of gambling in the UK on January 1, 1961. Situated at 45 Park Lane, overlooking Hyde park in London's Mayfair, the PLAYBOY Club rapidly became the largest and most successful casino in Europe. In its heyday in the 60s and 70s Hugh Hefner's London club was visited by the rich and famous, along with some of the biggest names in showbusiness including Sean Connery, Joan Collins, Roger Moore, and influential critic and writer Kenneth Tynan. PLAYBOY founder Hugh Hefner recalled: “When we opened the [London] club in 1966, there were three or four major Hollywood films being made in London... Ursula Andress was there with Jean-Paul Belmondo, Peter Sellers came; Woody Allen got up and performed.” All four actors were then in London filming Casino Royale (1967). Costing $25 per year for membership, access to the club was via a bunny-headed metal key (and later a credit card sized metal key-card). PLAYBOY Club membership became a status symbol, although only 21% of all key holders actually ever set foot inside one of the clubs.

woody Allen - London PLAYBOY Club/James Bond PLAYBOY Club membership card Diamonds Are Forever (1971)

The March 1960 issue of PLAYBOY is also notable for having a pictorial featuring Jill St. John who, just over a decade later, would star in as Tiffany Case in Diamonds Are Forever - becoming the first American actress to play a Bond girl. She also appeared in the December 1971 issue of PLAYBOY featuring her co-star Sean Connery in a pictorial alongside Lana Wood (playing Plenty O'Toole), who was willing to shed a little more clothing than Miss St. John. In the film Diamonds Are Forever (1971) in order to confuse his contact Tiffany Case, Bond replaces his wallet with that of diamond smuggler Peter Franks (Joe Robinson) who he has just killed. When Tiffany Case opens the wallet she finds Bond's PLAYBOY Club membership card resulting in the classic exchange: “You've just killed James Bond!”, to which Bond replies “Is that who it was? Just goes to show nobody is indestructible.”

PLAYBOY LOGO April 1963 OHMSS Introduction

PLAYBOY became the first magazine to serialize a James Bond novel when ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE appeared in the April 1963 issue. The hardback first edition of the novel was published in the UK by Jonathan Cape in the same month. The story was illustrated by Robert Weaver (1924-1994) who was the brother of noted actor Fritz Weaver (1926-2016). The first of three instalments featured a double-page illustration of James Bond reflected in the rear-view mirror of his Bentley as he follows Tracy's Lancia through the narrow streets of Royale-Les-Eaux.

PLAYBOY - ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE illustrated by Robert Weaver

PLAYBOY asked Ian Fleming to provide a description of Bond to aid the artist - the author sent the following: “Height: 6 ft., 1 in. Build: Slim hips, broad shoulders. Eyes: Steely blue-gray. Hair: Black, with comma over right forehead. Weight: 12 stone, 8 lbs. Age: Middle 30s. Features: Determined chin, rather cruel mouth. Scar down right cheek from cheek-bone. Apparel: Wears two-button, single-breasted suit in dark-blue tropical worsted. Black belt. White sea-island cotton shirt, short sleeves. Black casual shoes, square toed. Thin black knitted silk tie. No pin. Dark-blue socks, cotton lisle. No handkerchief in breast pocket. Wears Rolex Oyster Perpetual wrist watch”.

Robert Weaver

Despite Fleming's detailed description, Weaver's version of James Bond still looks suspiciously like Sean Connery - whose first film as 007 would be released in the United States the following month. Weaver's second full-page illustration in the April 1963 issue (pictured above) was given a citation for merit by the New York Society of Illustrators in 1964. The original artwork was sold for $2,629 in December 2003 as part of CHRISTIE'S ‘PLAYBOY at 50’ auction in New York.

PLAYBOY - ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE illustrated by Robert Weaver

ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE was published in America in August 1963 by the New American Library (their first hardback publication) and remained on the The New York Times best seller list for over six months.

THE PROPERTY OF A LADY was a short story commissioned by Sotheby's auction house for use in their November 1963 journal The Ivory Hammer. Ian Fleming was reportedly very unhappy with the story and refused payment. Undaunted, PLAYBOY published the story in their tenth anniversary issue in January 1964 with an illustration by Richard Frooman (1930-2014). The artist also later painted the introductory illustration to THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN, which was serialized by PLAYBOY in four parts from April 1965. However, Frooman’s work went unused and was replaced with an illustration by Howard Mueller.

Richard Frooman

THE PROPERTY OF A LADY was then unavailable in printed form until it appeared in the UK PAN paperback version of OCTOPUSSY AND THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS in 1967. It is now included in all editions of this anthology, along with 007 IN NEW YORK - a 1959 short story by Ian Fleming commissioned by The Sunday Times, and originally published in the US edition of his 1963 travelogue Thrilling Cities.

PLAYBOY - THE PROPERTY OF A LADY illustrated by Richard Frooman

PLAYBOY reported that Ian Fleming had delivered the completed manuscript to his latest novel YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE and this would be serialized starting in April 1964. The author was paid $35,000 for the rights to serialize his 11th James Bond novel. The hardback edition had already been published in the UK by Jonathan Cape in March 1964; with the US New American Library edition appearing in August.

PLAYBOY - YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE illustrated by Daniel Schwartz

The opening instalment of YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE was accompanied by a superbly detailed illustration depicting James Bond and Tiger Tanaka playing ‘Scissors, paper, stone’ at the Geisha House of Trembling Leaf. Spread across three pages, the magazine format cropped the illustration so that only two thirds were visible, with the final panel on the third page. The illustration was later shown in full in the July 1967 issue as part of the pictorial accompanying the release of the film version. Illustrator Daniel Schwartz (1929-2020) was a pioneer in the wider use of quality art by magazines and his works have been exhibited in many major museums.

Daniel Schwartz

PLAYBOY - YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE illustrated by Daniel Schwartz

The May 1964 issue featured another double-page spread, this time showing Bond and Kissy Suzuki swimming towards Doctor Shatterhand's fortress at the end of the story. The third and final instalment was published in June 1964 and featured an evocative illustration of Bond in full samurai attire during his fight with Shatterhand (Blofeld) at the climax of YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE. The March 1964 issue of PLAYBOY reported that Ian Fleming was currently in Jamaica writing the latest James Bond adventure. The author would not live to see its publication - Ian Fleming died on August 12, 1964.

The PLAYBOY interview - Ian Fleming  December 1964

Several months before his death, Fleming consented to PLAYBOY's request for an extended and exclusive interview. The unnamed interviewer picked Fleming up at his Mitre Court office, and then accompanied the author to El Vino's Wine Bar on Fleet Street. Fleming later said of the interview that it was the best that had ever been done with him. The interview was published in the December 1964 issue of PLAYBOY.