Hugh Hefner, the pipe-smoking, pajama-wearing founder of the Playboyempire -- and exemplar of its lifestyle -- died Wednesday of natural causes at the Playboy mansion in Los Angeles, according to a representative. He was 91.
- Hugh Hefner was born on April 9th, 1926 in Chicago.
- He founded Playboy in 1953 and made an instant splash by featuring Marilyn Monroeas the centerfold of his first issue.
- Hef’s extravagant lifestyle -- exemplified through the legendary Playboy mansion and the TV show The Girls Next Door -- was the fantasy of men (and women) everywhere.
- Hefner had multiple girlfriends through his life -- including a set of twins -- but was married only twice.
Hugh Marston Hefner was an aspiring cartoonist in Chicago in 1953 when he raised $8,000 from 45 investors -- including his mother -- to start a men’s magazine. He picked up some nude pictures of Marilyn Monroe taken when she was a starlet to use as his first centerfold. By the time the first issue hit newsstands, Monroe was a star and Playboy was an instant sensation. In that issue, Hefner laid out the Playboy philosophy, writing, “We like our apartment. We enjoy mixing up cocktails and an hors d'oeuvre or two, putting a little mood music on the phonograph and inviting in a female acquaintance for a quiet discussion on Picasso, Nietzsche, jazz, sex... If we are able to give the American male a few extra laughs and a little diversion from the anxieties of the Atomic Age, we'll feel we've justified our existence.”
Playboy’s mix of highbrow fiction, interviews with artistic and political movers and shakers, and shopping guides to the good life -- all chased with a strong dose of nudity, sex advice and suggestive humor -- soon typified a lifestyle for the 1950s male. And Hef did his best to embody that lifestyle. With a succession of Playboy mansions, he threw exclusive shindigs that, like his magazine, mixed celebrities, politicians and naked women. Those parties turned him into a celebrity. The magazine spawned nightclubs (where waitresses were dressed as bunnies), television shows and, eventually, a publishing empire.
Despite a long string of girlfriends -- including a bevy of blonde beauties while he was in his 80s -- Hefner married only twice. Each marriage resulted in two children, including his oldest daughter, Christie, who took over as head of the Playboy Enterprises in 1982 but left the company in 2008. His plans for a third wife blew up in June 2011, when just days before the wedding, 25-year-old fiancee Crystal Harris dumped Hef.
Hugh Hefner is survived by his daughter Christie, her brother David, and two children with second wife Kimberley Conrad, Marston and Cooper.