Playboy founder Hugh Hefner dead
American Playboy founder Hugh Hefner has died age 91.
He died peacefully at his home in Los Angeles, his son Cooper Hefner said in a Playboy Enterprises statement.
Playboy magazine was founded more than 60 years ago to create a niche upscale men's magazine, combining images of nude women with in-depth articles and interviews.
"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," a rep for the Playboy Enterprises founder said in a statement to People magazine."
American Icon and Playboy Founder, Hugh M. Hefner passed away today. He was 91. #RIPHef pic.twitter.com/tCLa2iNXa4— Playboy (@Playboy) September 28, 2017
Hefner rose to fame after the first issue of Playboy was published in December 1953, featuring Marilyn Munroe. The same year he launched Playboy Enterprises, a media and lifestyle company. Hefner served on its board until his death.
With the founding of the magazine, Hefner built a brand that defined the sexual culture of the second half of the 20th century.
Playboy's buxom models were the objects of millions of men's fantasies as Hefner challenged what he derided as America's "puritanical" attitudes toward sex.
"We enjoy mixing up cocktails and an hors d'oeurve or two, putting a little mood music on the phonograph, and inviting in a female acquaintance for a quiet discussion on Piscasso, Nietzsche, jazz, sex," Hefner wrote in its inaugural issue.
For decades, he was the pipe-smoking, silk-pajama-wearing centre of a constant fantasy party at Playboy mansions in Chicago and then in Los Angeles.
His son Cooper Hefner released the following 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 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, including his wife Crystal, my sister Christie and my brothers David and Marston, and all of us at Playboy Enterprises."
2. Statement from Hugh Hefner's son @cooperhefner on the passing of his father. pic.twitter.com/HVJOQKhiAY— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) September 28, 2017
Over the years, Hefner was sometimes characterised as an oversexed Peter Pan as he kept a harem of young blondes that numbered as many as seven at his legendary Playboy Mansion. This was chronicled in The Girls Next Door, a TV reality show that aired from 2005 through 2010. He said that thanks to the impotency-fighting drug Viagra he continued exercising his libido into his 80s.
"I'm never going to grow up," Hefner said in a CNN interview when he was 82. "Staying young is what it is all about for me. Holding on to the boy and long ago I decided that age really didn't matter and as long as the ladies ... feel the same way, that's fine with me."
Hefner settled down somewhat in 2012 at age 86 when he took Crystal Harris, who was 60 years younger, as his third wife.
He said his swinging lifestyle might have been a reaction to growing up in a repressed family where affection was rarely exhibited. His so-called stunted childhood led to a multi-million-dollar enterprise that centered on naked women but also espoused Hefner's "Playboy philosophy" based on romance, style and the casting off of mainstream mores.
That philosophy came to life at the legendary parties in his mansions - first in his native Chicago, then in Los Angeles' exclusive Holmby Hills neighbourhood - where legions of male celebrities swarmed to mingle with beautiful young women.
Long before the Internet made nudity ubiquitous, Hefner faced obscenity charges in 1963 for publishing and circulating photos of disrobed celebrities and aspiring stars but he was acquitted.
Hefner created Playboy as the first stylish glossy men's magazine and in addition to nude fold-outs, it had intellectual appeal with top writers such as Kurt Vonnegut, Joyce Carol Oates, Vladimir Nabokov, James Baldwin and Alex Haley for men who liked to say they did not buy the magazine just for the pictures.
In-depth interviews with historic figures such as Fidel Castro, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and John Lennon also were featured regularly.
"I've never thought of Playboy quite frankly as a sex magazine," Hefner told CNN in 2002. "I always thought of it as a lifestyle magazine in which sex was one important ingredient."
Hefner proved to be a genius at branding. The magazine's rabbit silhouette became one of the best known logos in the world and the "bunny" waitresses in his Playboy nightclubs were instantly recognisable in their low-cut bathing suit-style uniforms with bow ties, puffy cotton tails and pert rabbit ears.
Hef, as he began calling himself in high school, also was a living logo for Playboy, presiding over his realm in silk pajamas and a smoking jacket while puffing on a pipe.
"What I created came out of my own adolescent dreams of fantasies," he told CNN. "I was trying to redefine what it meant to be a young, urban unattached male."
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