The smoking jacket and silk pajamas, the tobacco pipe, the luxurious and legendary mansion full of beautiful women… there are few individuals in the world of adult entertainment more iconic than Playboy founder Hugh Hefner. On Wednesday, September 27, Playboy confirmed that 91-year-old Hefner had died at his mansion in Holmby Hills, California.
After serving as a military newspaper reporter for the US Army in World War II, Hefner earned a college degree in 1949 and, a few years later, created Playboy magazine in his own living room in Chicago. The first issue, published in December of 1953, famously featured Marilyn Monroe in photos from her 1949 nude calendar and sold more than 50,000 copies. Although Hefner never met Marilyn, in 1992, he bought the crypt next to hers at Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery. It was only the first of many times Playboy would feature famous women in its pages.
Featuring nude photos of beautiful women as well as serious articles and short stories by some literary giants, Playboy was no stranger to social commentary alongside the eye candy. The likes of Vladimir Nabokov, Margaret Atwood, Chuck Palahniuk, Harvey Kurtzman, and Shel Silverstein had stories and cartoons published in the magazine. The late comic legend Dick Gregory, who passed away in August, credited Hefner for launching his career by booking him at the Chicago Playboy Club in 1961.
Hefner and his magazine were a driving force in the sexual revolution and made waves in the publishing world. The post-WWII economic and cultural boom was a good time for a men’s entertainment magazine, the first to reach mainstream status and spawn an empire of print, online, and broadcast media as well as clothing, collectibles, and more. Around the world, the company has also operated clubs, casinos, and resorts.
Hefner was born Hugh Marston Hefner in Chicago on April 9, 1926. He married several times and had relationships with numerous Playmates. As the face of Playboy, Hefner became a household name and appeared in movies and TV shows from Miss March to The Simpsons. Until his death Hefner still worked as editor in chief of Playboy magazine, saying that the combination of work and play was one of the things that kept him young.
Hefner is survived by his wife, Crystal Harris, and four children — daughter Christie and son David from his first wife, Mildred Williams; and sons Marston and Cooper from his second wife, Kimberly Conrad.Back