Playboy founder Hugh Hefner dies at 91
LOS ANGELES, USA (UPDATED)– Hugh Hefner, the silk pajamas-wearing founder of Playboy magazine who helped steer nudity into the American mainstream died Wednesday, September 27, his magazine announced on Twitter. He was 91 years old.
"Life is too short to be living somebody else's dream," read a quote from Hefner, whose trailblazing brand played a major role in the 20th century's shifting attitude towards sexuality.
Hefner founded Playboy in 1953, with Marilyn Monroe on the cover of the first issue.
The magazine soon became a pop culture phenomenon, ushering in a new era of sexual liberation.
More than the nudity, Playboy became a platform for writers and artists to publish their work. Under Hefner’s leadership, Playboy’s contributors include literary legends such as Jack Kerouac, Norman Mailer, Kurt Vonnegut, Margaret Atwood, and Joyce Carol Oates.
Aside from being a publishing icon, Hefner was known for his high-profile relationships, many of which were with Playboy Playmates – the models featured on the centerfold of the magazine each month.
He was married 3 times. His first wife, Millie Williams, confessed to having an affair before they married, while Hefner was in the army. To placate her guilt, she allowed Hefner to have affairs with other women while they were married. They divorced in 1959, after which Hefner changed his lifestyle and became known to be a high-rolling party boy who dated as many as seven women at once.
He married his second wife, Playmate of the Year Kimberley Conrad, in 1989. They would eventually separate in 1998.
His relationships with women became the subject of the E! reality show The Girls Next Door, which followed Hefner and his three girlfriends then, Holly Madison, Bridget Marquardt, and Kendra Wilkinson as they all lived together in the famous Playboy Mansion.
His third wife was Playmate of the month in December 2009, Crystal Harris. They married in 2012, and have a 60-year age gap between them.
Hefner’s son Cooper paid tribute to his father in a statement.
"My father lived an exceptional and impactful life as a media and cultural pioneer and a leading voice behind some of the most significant social and cultural movements of our time in advocating free speech, civil rights and sexual freedom," he said.
"He defined a lifestyle and ethos that lie at the heart of the Playboy brand, one of the most recognizable and enduring in history. He will be greatly missed by many, including his wife Crystal, my sister Christie and my brothers David and Marston, and all of us at Playboy Enterprises."
Cooper, who is Chief Creative Officer at Playboy, is Hefner’s youngest son. Hefner has three other children: David and Christie, with first wife Millie, and Marston, with second wife Kimberley.
Hefner’s fascinating life is the subject of an Amazon Original Series, American Playboy: The Hugh Hefner Story, whose first season was released on April 7. Starring Matt Whelan as Hefner, the series details the creation and rise of Playboy, as well as Hefner’s personal life, including his struggle with drugs and his fight for sexual liberation. – With reports from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com