Los Angeles, Sep 28: The greatest playboy of them all, and the man who gave millions of hormone charged guys of all ages lasting memories filled with anticipation, ecstasy, and dread has left us. Hugh Hefner, the founder of the iconic Playboy magazine has died. He was 91. But his spirit lives on.
A statement from the company read that Hefner died from natural causes surrounded by kith and kin at his home, The Playboy Mansion, reported ABC News.
“Hugh M Hefner, the American icon who in 1953 introduced the world to Playboy magazine and built the company into one of the most recognisable American global brands in history, peacefully passed away today from natural causes at his home, The Playboy Mansion, surrounded by loved ones. He was 91 years old,” the statement read.
Hefner’s son Cooper also issued a statement in which he traced back his father’s journey into spearheading a sexual revolution, along with freedom of expression in the US.
“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 defined a lifestyle and ethos that lie at the heart of the Playboy brand, one of the most recognisable and enduring in history. He will be greatly missed by many…” Cooper, 26, said of his father.
Hailing from Chicago, Hefner was born to Glenn and Grace Hefner on April 9, 1926.
After graduating from high school, he served as a writer for a military newspaper in the US Army from 1944-1946 during World War II. He enrolled in University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign and got his degree of BA in Psychology in 1949.
Hefner founded Playboy with the aim to create a niche and upscale magazine for men – which offered a spread of images of nude women, along with detailed write-ups, interviews and fiction by many a well-known writers.
The magazine came to be recongnised by its logo of the bunny face with a bow tie.
According to reports, he started the magazine with USD 600 and another USD 1,000 that he borrowed from his mother.
In its first year, Hollywood icon Marilyn Monroe featured as a Playmate on the first centrefold of the monthly magazine, which was a special feature.
In 2015, Playboy stopped publishing photographs of naked women, citing the proliferation of nudity on the internet.
Hefner also hosted a TV show “Playboy After Dark” and opened a number of nightclubs in 1960, where waitresses wore risque dresses with bunny ears and fluffy white cottontails.
He even hosted reality TV show “The Girls Next Door” with three live-in girlfriends in The Playboy mansion.
The Playboy magazine also gave its tributes to ‘Hef’ (Hefner’s nickname) on their official Twitter handle.
“American Icon and Playboy Founder, Hugh M Hefner passed away today. He was 91. #RIPHef,” the post read.
It also shared his photograph embossed with his famous quote, “Life is too short to be living someone else’s dream”.
Hefner is survived by his wife Crystal and other three children – Christie, 64, David, 62 and Marston, 27.
As news of Hugh Hefner’s death spread, the women featured in his Playboy magazine paid tribute to the man who helped launch their careers.
He started the men’s magazine in 1953 and built it into a multimillion-dollar empire that included TV shows and Playboy Clubs, the latter featuring cocktail waitresses dressed in bunny ears and fuzzy tails.
Over the years, Hefner introduced the world to a bevy of women through his magazine and television show “The Girls Next Door” on E! channel. Many of the women tweeted their tributes early Thursday.
“Thank you for being a revolutionary and changing so many people’s lives, especially mine. I hope I made you proud,” said Jenny McCarthy, who was on the cover of Playboy magazine in 1993, and was named Playmate of the Year.
Actress Donna D’Errico was a regular on “Baywatch,” and posed for Playboy magazine in 1995.
“Hugh Hefner put me in Playboy & ignited my career. I am forever indebted, Hef,” she tweeted. “You will forever live on as an icon of epic proportions.”
The daughter of legendary musician Frank Sinatra described Hef as “one of the nicest men” she’s ever known. Nancy Sinatra posed for Playboy in 1995.
“Godspeed, Hugh Hefner,” she tweeted, along with a picture of the two of them hugging.
Miriam Gonzalez, who graced the magazine in 2001, thanked Hefner and credited him with changing her life. So did Michelle McLaughlin — a Playmate seven years later.
“Rest In peace my dear sweet Hugh Hefner Forever in my heart and forever grateful for changing my life. I love you,” Gonzalez said.
Model Adrianne Curry said she was featured on Playboy magazine’s cover twice. She thanked the magazine titan for believing in her vision and giving her artistic freedom.
When the magazine launched in 1953 during the Eisenhower administration, Hefner’s image of the “Playboy lifestyle” championed a more libertine view of sexuality that went against the puritanical elements of the times.
But he also turned Playboy, as a publication and an ideal, into a forum for sexual freedom and progressive politics, advocating for civil rights and free speech.
It was a common joke for someone to say that they “just read Playboy for the articles.” But Hefner’s commitment to quality authors and journalism showcased some of the best of both worlds, including works by Ray Bradbury, John Updike and Kurt Vonnegut.
Hefner once said in a CNN interview that he would “like to be remembered as somebody who has changed the world in some positive way, in a social, sexual sense, and I’d be very happy with that.”
With or without nudity, that’s a pretty clear image of Hefner’s legacy.