playmate bonnie large floats through the air, gets sawed in half and hangs out with a robot -- but it's all just part of her job
Bonnie has this weird boyfriend named Ralph whose idea of a good time is to hang around shopping centers, where he likes to greet customers -- "Good evening, ma'am, that's a lovely dress you're wearing" -- then shake hands, answer questions and do a commercial for some product or other. And when he talks, you listen: Ralph is an eight-and-a-half-foot robot. He and Bonnie Large, a slender but well-organized five feet, five and a half, both work for Hill-Davies Productions in Sherman Oaks, California. The company -- sometimes with the assistance of name entertainers and vaudeville acts -- puts on shows to entertain businessmen and help them market their wares. Bonnie's dates with Ralph -- who speaks and moves with the help of a concealed accomplice who operates the remote-control buttons and the microphone -- are but a small part of what she does for Hill-Davies. She handles their secretarial chores and makes occasional out-of-town trips to help set up shows. And she performs, too -- as a dancer, a model and a "straight girl" for magician Chuck Jones. In their act, Bonnie floats through space -- not with the greatest of ease, perhaps, but convincingly -- and in another routine, she gets sawed in half. After getting herself back together, Bonnie hops into her Beetle for the 45-minute drive to her apartment in Alhombra. "It's nothing fancy," she says, but it's distinguished by the numerous antiques Bonnie has collected at local thift shops and "swap-ins"; among them are a four-poster bed and a pre-1900 Singer sewing machine. A confirmed animal lover who once worked as a veterinarian's assistant, Bonnie also keeps a variety of pets: two great Danes, three cats and a gopher snake who stays safely locked in his tank. Because her job is as demanding as it is exhilarating, Bonnie has had to shelve plans to take night courses in shorthand and industrial drawing this year. She'd like to do more modeling, though. In 1969 she was a finalist in the competition for the court of the Rose Queen but was disqualified when the officials learned that she was too young. "I'd been told that they make exceptions," she says, "but they didn't make one in my case." Now Bonnie hopes that her Playmate appearance will inspire some modeling offers. We'd bet on that -- but, of course, we're a little biased.
Photography by Bill Figge, Mel Figge