One of our editors was in the office archives pulling photos for a feature set to run on Hugh Hefner’s birthday. He found some Polaroids from 1977 that showed a large excavation project at The Mansion. We asked the new general manager at The Mansion about these photos. He said, very matter-of-factly, “that’s probably when they built the tunnels in the 70s.”
When you work at Playboy, you hear a lot of stories. Some of them are true: The Playboy Mansion is, in fact, the only private residence in LA with a fireworks license and one of the few with a zookeeping permit. Some of them — such as whether there’s a secret room in the house that lets you see into the Grotto pool — we can’t verify because we’ve never actually seen that room in The Mansion. But we’d never heard anything about a tunnel.
These are the photos we found in the archive:
We decided to dig a little deeper and secured an invite to The Mansion to see if we could find out anything else. Staff led us to an unfinished basement area (rare in LA, given the earthquakes) and let us check out what can only be described as a treasure trove of old photos, plans and blueprints.
After an hour of giddy treasure hunting (you won’t believe some of the stuff down there), this caught our eye.
We then asked The Mansion staff for more info about the celebrity tunnels, and we were told Mr. Hefner did not wish to comment. We reached out to reps for Nicholson, Caan, Douglas and Beatty, and they have not agreed to comment.
This is all the info we’ve been able to dig up. So we’re asking for help. If you were at The Playboy Mansion in the 1970s or 1980s, and you (or your dad or someone you know) saw or used one of these celebrity tunnels, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.