Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner dies at 91
LOS ANGELES - AP
Playboy founder Hugh M. Hefner, the pipe-smoking hedonist who revved up the sexual revolution in the 1950s, has died at 91. Hefner died of natural causes at his home surrounded by family on Sept. 28 night, Playboy said in a statement.
As much as anyone, Hefner helped slip sex out of the confines of plain brown wrappers and into mainstream conversation. In 1953, a time when states could legally ban contraceptives, when the word “pregnant” was not allowed on “I Love Lucy,” Hefner published the first issue of Playboy, featuring naked photos of Marilyn Monroe (taken years earlier) and an editorial promise of “humor, sophistication and spice.”
Playboy soon became forbidden fruit for teenagers and a bible for men with time and money. Within a year, circulation neared 200,000. Within 5 years, it had topped 1 million.
By the 1970s, the magazine had more than 7 million readers and had inspired raunchier imitations such as Penthouse and Hustler. Competition and the internet reduced circulation to less than 3 million by the 21st century. But Hefner and Playboy remained brand names worldwide.
Hefner was born in Chicago on April 9, 1926, to devout Methodist parents who he said never showed “love in a physical or emotional way.”
He ran Playboy from his elaborate mansions, first in Chicago and then in Los Angeles, and became the flamboyant symbol of the lifestyle he espoused. For decades he was the pipe-smoking, silk-pajama-wearing center of a constant party with celebrities and Playboy models.
After a stroke, Hefner handed control of his empire to his feminist daughter, Christie, although he owned 70 percent of Playboy stock and continued to choose every month’s Playmate and cover shot. Christie Hefner continued as CEO until 2009.
Hefner is survived by his wife Crystal as well as his daughter, Christie; and his sons, David, Marston and Cooper.