Playboy's Penthouse was a series created by Hugh Hefner and Alan Carr (producer of Grease). The show premiered on October 24, 1959, via syndication. The setting was that of Hugh Hefner's 'penthouse' living room, complete with couches, bar, piano, fireplace and lots and lots of martinis.... It was actually a studio set at WBKB-TV studios in Chicago. The format was a hip swingin' and laid-back party of bachelors and young beautiful women with interviews of current figures in the literary world, music and comedy. Most of them getting sloshed... The controversial Lenny Bruce was a frequent comedic guest. Musical guests were often a who's who of the jazz world (being Hef's favorite genre) such as Harry Belafonte, Nat 'King' Cole, Cy Coleman (who composed the Playboy theme song), Ella Fitzgerald, Marty Ingles, Gary Morton, Pete Seeger and Sarah Vaughn. Hef sports a tuxedo, a pipe and a girl on each arm, and invites the viewer to join the party... This is no Man Show, it's all about class, sophistication and the life of a playboy, a playboy who's not afraid to like the 'finer things'.
“We like our apartment. We enjoy mixing up cocktails and an hors d'oeuvre or two, putting a little mood music on the phonograph and inviting in a female acquaintance for a quiet discussion on Picasso, Nietzsche, jazz, sex.... If we are able to give the American male a few extra laughs and a little diversion from the anxieties of the Atomic Age, we'll feel we've justified our existence.”
Hugh Hefner, first Playboy issue
An interesting note about the series is that it is the first show on television in which blacks and whites interacted in a casual, peer-to-peer manner. Remember, this was 1959. Not only does the show have many black guests, the populated party goers are of many races and religions as well. There are even clips of whites and blacks dancing the twist... yet another taboo breaker from Hef.
The show ran for two years, with an additional brief stint in 1963. Hef also created another syndicated series in the late sixties, called Playboy After Dark.