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Anna McCadd, 94, Chicago woman made sure Playboy bunnies looked just right


Anna McCadd

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Updated: October 29, 2012 6:44AM

Anna McCadd had an important job in the Playboy empire.

As a wardrobe mistress at Chicago’s Playboy Club, it was up to her to zip the curvaceous young women into their bunny costumes.

She stitched up rips and made sure collars and cuffs were crisp and that the bunny cufflinks faced in the direction commanded by the Bunny Bible (that would be forward).

And, in the midst of supervising all that inhaling, tucking and zipping, she also acted as a mother hen and psychiatrist.

When she hobnobbed with Playboy Club performers like Sammy Davis Jr. and Bill Cosby, it seemed a long way from her hometown of Shannon, Miss., where the sidewalks of her girlhood were made from wooden planks.

Mrs. McCadd, 94, died last month at Little Company of Mary Hospital in Evergreen Park.

Her family came to Chicago for work. Her father, Langford Dean, a doughboy in France in World War I, labored on the city subway system, mixing and smoothing concrete in the tunnels, according to Mrs. McCadd’s daughter, Angelyn Chester.

Young Anna liked getting dolled up at night to watch Billie Holiday, Count Basie and Cab Calloway at nightspots like the Club DeLisa, the Regal Theater and the Parkway Ballroom.

Nat King Cole was the one who got away. He asked her out when they were both at Wendell Phillips High School, but, in her teenage mind, a little acne rendered him undateable.

For decades afterward, whenever she’d see the singing superstar on TV, her children braced themselves for the refrain.

“M-a-a-a-n,” she’d say. “I shoulda gone out with him.”

But she had a happy first marriage to Arthur Logan Sr. They had three children before he died suddenly, leaving her a widow.

Blessed with a lovely voice, she had hoped to study opera, her daughter said. But given the many doors shut to African Americans at the time, she worked as a maid.

She did sing — but not onstage.

“She would sing during housework, she would sing as she bathed us, and tell us Aesop’s Fables. That’s how I learned a lot of things about character and personal ethics,” Mrs. McCadd’s daughter said.

She married Harold McCadd Sr., an Army drill sergeant, and had three more children.

During the 1970s, Mrs. McCadd began working as a wardrobe mistress at the Playboy Club at the Palmolive Building, 919 N. Michigan. Each bunny’s costume was tailor-made, with her name inside.

“She made sure the costumes were ready to go, cleaned,” Chester said. “She would inspect them. She would get the bunny tails ready — she would comb them. We had bunnies who were unbelievably petite, to bunnies who were almost 6 feet tall. She just had the biggest kick out of being there.”

“She would zip us up, and hook us at the top, and make sure everything was covered and proper,” said her daughter, who also was a bunny — named International Bunny of the Year in 1974. “The whole idea was to leave enough to the imagination.”

If a bunny had problems, Mrs. McCadd was ready with advice, her daughter said.

“She’d say, ‘I’ve lived through some times that were not so nice, and you make it; you make it.’ And she always encouraged the bunnies to put it in perspective: ‘You’re too pretty for that. You’re too good. So move away from it.’ ”

When Sammy Davis Jr. performed at the club, he made a point of visiting Mrs. McCadd, sometimes talking with her about the bad old days, her daughter said. “He would remember the times he could not go through the front door or stay at the best hotels, even being a big entertainer.”

Bill Cosby remembered her fondly. “I always looked forward to having her grace backstage at my Chicago area shows,” he said in a statement. “She will continue to do so in spirit.”

Later in life, Mrs. McCadd became a foster grandparent through a city program. Until several months ago, she worked with 2- and 3-year-olds at Creative Mansion Children’s Academy at 47th and Ellis, said academy directors Myke Gerring and Marjorie Jones.

If a child cried when their mother left, Mrs. McCadd knew what to do for her “babies,” Gerring said. “She’d get them to come to her, rubbing their back and talking to them.”

She loved crossword puzzles and played three Bingo boards at a time.

Three of Mrs. McCadd’s children died before her: Arthur Logan Jr.; Joyce Logan and Ronald Logan. In addition to Angelyn Chester, she is survived by two sons, Harold McCadd Jr. and Lucius McCadd; a stepdaughter, Bernadette McCadd; and nine grandchildren, four step-grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren and step-great-grandchildren; and one great-great grandchild and one step-great-great grandchild. Services have been held.

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