Hugh Hefner, the man who parlayed $8,000 in borrowed money in 1953 to create Playboy has died. He was 91.
Hef's Playboy became a multimedia empire of clubs, mansions, movies and television, symbolized by bow-tied women in bunny costumes.
Hefner also co-produced hundreds of Playboy-branded videos and a few feature films, such as Roman Polanski’s “Macbeth” and Monty Python’s first film, “And Now for Something Completely Different”, both released in 1971. He had been a sought-after guest on TV shows as far back as 1969 when he played a Control agent in an episode of “Get Smart”, and more recently he appeared on “Curb Your Enthusiasm”, “Entourage” and “Sex and the City” as well as in animated shows like “The Simpsons” and “Family Guy”.
Hefner also made cameos in several movies, most recently 2008’s “The House Bunny”, which told the fictional story of a Playboy “bunny,” played by Anna Faris, who has been kicked out of the Playboy Mansion, the famous real-life, 22,000-square-foot house in Los Angeles where Hefner lived for more than four decades and where he hosted famously decadent parties that attracted celebrities A-list through D. The house sold for $100 million in August with the provision that Hefner be allowed to live there the rest of his life.
Asked by the New York Times in 1992 of what he was proudest, Hefner responded: "That I changed attitudes toward sex. That nice people can live together now. That I decontaminated the notion of premarital sex. That gives me great satisfaction."
By his own account, Hefner had sex with more than a thousand women, including many pictured in his magazine. However, Hefner maintained he was a relative late bloomer, remaining a virgin until he was 21.
Hef married a classmate, Millie Williams, in 1949, but “the troubled marriage faced growing pressure from Hugh’s increasingly active sexual imagination”. The couple hosted risque parties that included stag films. Hefner began suggesting wife swapping, and he eventually slept with his brother’s wife, though Millie backed out of sex with his brother Keith. They had a daughter, Christie, in 1952 and a son, David, in 1955, before divorcing in 1959.
Hefner set out to create his media empire at a particularly low point in his life in 1953 when he was despondent over a marriage he knew wasn’t working and a career that had stalled. He recalled in 2004 that he stood on a bridge in Chicago in the dead of winter thinking, “I’ve gotta do something.” That year, the first issue of Playboy was published.
In 1989, Hefner married Kimberly Conrad, a former Playmate of the Year, and the couple had sons Marston and Cooper. They divorced in 2010, and Hefner married Crystal Harris two years later.
In 2011, Hefner told The New York Times that he had already chosen and paid for his final resting place — a crypt next to Monroe’s in Westwood.
Source: Hollywood Reporter, Variety