The founder of Playboy Hugh Hefner has passed away at the age of 91. According to Playboy Enterprises Hefner died surrounded by a group of family and friends due to natural causes.
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,” Hefner’s son Cooper said in a statement. “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.”
Hefner’s dream of running his own magazine began while he was working as a copy editor at Esquire in 1952, and the following year he secured enough funding to launch Playboy.
The December 1953 inaugural issue featured none other than Marilyn Monroe as its cover girl, and the magazine would go on to become a multibillion-dollar empire ― including TV series, websites, DVDs and endless licensed merchandise ― and one of the most recognizable brands in the world.
In the 60s, Hugh Hefner became the public face of the company and was known for his smoking jacket, his pipe, and the assurance that wherever he was, a bevy of beautiful women was around him. He then established a series of private key clubs that he staffed with hostesses known as Bunnies for their now-iconic uniforms that included ears and a tail.
Hefner was arrested in 1963 and charged with selling obscene literature after publishing nude photos of actress Jayne Mansfield. The charges were dropped after a jury was unable to reach a verdict, but the experience led Hefner to launch the Playboy Foundation, which provided funding to groups researching human sexuality and fighting censorship.
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