Hugh Hefner, the founder of Playboy magazine has died.
Though he was most famous for Playboy, Hefner played in all forms of media, including hosting his own TV show, beginning with Playboy’s Penthouse. He followed that with Playboy After Dark, with more rock n rollHefner headquarters and home, The Playboy Mansion, the 22,000-square-foot house in Los Angeles where he lived for more than four decades was sold for $100 million in August with the provision that Hefner be allowed to live there the rest of his life.
Hef, as he was known, became the unofficial spokesman for the sexual revolution and was a staunch supporter of abortion – including helping to finance the landmark Rowe v. Wade decision in 1973 — and more recently was an outspoken advocate of same-sex marriage, and his dedication to such issues (along with his distribution of pornography) made him a pariah in some religious circles. He wrote in ’63 that,
“By associating sex with sin, we have produced a society so guilt-ridden that it is almost impossible to view the subject objectively.”
Hefner set out to create his media empire at a particularly low point in his life when he was despondent over a marriage he knew wasn’t working and a career that had stalled. He recalled in 2004 that he stood on a bridge in Chicago in the dead of winter thinking,
“I’ve gotta do something.”
Playboy, though, was Hefner’s bread and butter and his first love. He borrowed $1,000 from his mom and $7,000 from more than 40 other investors for a publication he was set to call Stag Party until he discovered a magazine called Stag already existed. He bought a picture of Marilyn Monroe that was taken before she was famous and put it on the cover and the first issue hit newsstands in December ’53, although he didn’t bother putting a date on it because he was doubtful there’d be future issues.
It sold 54,000 copies – 80 percent of the total he had printed and that issue, needless to say is a MAJOR collectable.
In 2011, Hef told The New York Times that he had already chosen and paid for his final resting place — a crypt next to Marilyn Monroe’s in Westwood.
They often say it but in this case, boy is it ever true.
“What a life!”
Hugh Hefner was 91.
(Photo, Playboy publicity; via THR)