Mary O’Connorwho spent more time with Hefner Hugh More than anyone else, his trusted secretary, confidant and mentor at Playboy Mansion for more than four decades, has passed away. She is 84 years old.
O’Connor died January 27 at Sherman Oaks Hospital after a brief illness. She worked for Hefner until she was hospitalized a week before her death.
“We love her more than words can say,” Hefner said in a statement. He runs the Playboy empire from her tiny second-floor office from the couch looking up at her desk.
O’Connor was serving on the board for a hotel magazine when a colleague offered her the position of manager of Chicago’s first Playboy Mansion. She moved there in 1969.
O’Connor recalls: “There were 24 rabbits living in the house at the time. “It was a whole new experience and a lot of fun.”
Hefner, now 86, bought Playboy Mansion West in Holmby Hills in 1971 for $1.1 million. He and O’Connor went back and forth until they moved to Los Angeles permanently. “It was a pleasure to furnish this house,” she once said. “It’s fun to go into a store when money isn’t an issue.”
In the 1998 book Inside the Playboy Mansion: If You Don’t Shake, Don’t RingO’Connor is quoted as saying how much she enjoys having so many friends playing in the 22,000 square foot home.
“It’s just the vitality of it, how beautiful they are,” she said. “For me, it is invigorating. It makes me feel young. The playmates bring everything to life, with all the craziness and everything, and the way they dress and their little souls…it’s amazing.”
“In the past, I still loved its promiscuousness. I think it’s very fun. If you want to go to bed with someone on your first date, I think you should.”
Hefner credits O’Connor for the role she played in his rekindled love affair and New Year’s Eve marriage to his third wife, Crystal Harris. Despite his ill health, O’Connor served as an honor guard at the wedding, which was held inside the mansion.
Friends say O’Connor never raises her voice, rarely changes her expression, and is known to have an X-rated sense of humour. She is kind, even when called upon to scold people. misbehaving in Hef’s playground.
A 2008 episode of E! series The girls next door had Hefner’s women spend a day at the secretary’s house. The episode is titled “There’s Something About Mary O’Connor,” but it does provide some clues on the subject, as O’Connor rarely wants to pay attention to her.
She was born Mary Eugenia Feuchtinger on August 8, 1928, in Chicago. She grew up in Marion, Ind.
O’Connor first married at the age of 18 to a man 11 years her senior. Her second husband introduced her to auto racing, and she promoted races around the country.
After their divorce, O’Connor moved to California in 1953. “I always wanted to go to Los Angeles, to go to Hollywood,” she said. “My dad’s sister is a screenwriter and gets into movies and that’s what fascinates me.”
She married two more times, and her fourth husband was named O’Connor.
The true love of her life came when she met Robert F. Gentert in 1982. They remained companions for 30 years until he died of pneumonia at the age of 82 on April 28.
Before retiring, “Captain Bob,” as he was known, sailed for 43 years with Getty Oil and Maritime Overseas Corp. He and O’Connor live in the Valley Village area of Los Angeles.
Survivors include brother James, sister-in-law Sheila and several nieces and nephews.
A private memorial service at Playboy Mansion will take place at 2pm on Friday.
Donations can be made in O’Connor’s memory to the Best Friends Animal Society or the Bailey Baio Angel Foundation.
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