Hugh Hefner: The world loses man who built a business empire from nudity

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Yesterday, Wednesday September 27, 2017, Playboy  founder, Hugh Hefner died at the age of 91. According to a statement from Playboy, Hefner died of natural causes.

Hugh Hefner pioneered the men’s lifestyle magazine with his introduction of Playboy, launching a sexual revolution in the United States and across the world. Today, Playboy is one of the largest global brands in entertainment and lifestyle, spanning television, fashion, night clubbing and philanthropy.

Hugh Marston Hefner was born in Chicago in April 1926, to strict Methodist parents. After serving as an army officer during the second world war, he got a job as a copywriter as Esquire magazine. In 1952, Hefner left the magazine after being denied a $5 raise. In 1953, he took out a mortgage, generating a bank loan of $600, and raised $8,000 from 45 investors, including $1,000 from his mother.

He published the first edition of Playboy magazine in December 1953, featuring a nude picture of American actress, Marilyn Monroe. This first edition sold more than 50,000 copies, creating a reputation as a serious entertainment magazine. By 1971, the magazine was selling 7 million copies. Playboy is popular for showcasing nude phones of beautiful women from around the world. Over the years, the brand expanded to include TV, film, resorts, night clubs, and charities.

Hugh Hefner surrounded by girls of the playboy mansion

Hefner claimed he wanted to liberate women as sexual beings. Asides the sexually explicit content it features, Playboy magazine also published articles from popular writers such asRay Bradbury, Ian Fleming, Joseph Heller, Jack Kerouac and Margaret Atwood. Miles Davis was the magazine’s first interview. Other interviews included Fidel Castro, Frank Sinatra, Marlon Brando and the then-presidential candidate Jimmy Carter, who confided that he had “committed adultery” in his heart.

The magazine and Hefner’s lifestyle often provoked criticism, from feminists and conservatives alike. Also in 1963, Hefner was arrested on obscenity charges after publishing nude photos of Jayne Mansfield but the charges were dropped after the jury failed to reach a verdict.

In 1949 he married his first wife, Mildred Williams, with whom he had two children. They divorced in 1959, and Hefner shifted to a more ostentatious lifestyle, buying an enormous house in Chicago. He lived there and then at a second Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles, wearing silk pyjamas and talking openly about his promiscuity. He claimed to have had sex with 1,000 women. Many of the magazine’s centrefold models stayed at the mansion while they were working for the publication. His last wife’s name is crystal.

Hefner has always said he would never grow up. He is an icon as much as a fun lover. One commentary on him says that he continued to take Viagra until he lost his hearing but he said he would rather have sex than hear. There has been an outpouring of tributes and comments alike on the life and legacy of this revolutionary.

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