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Playboy Founder Hugh Hefner Dies at 91

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Playboy founder Hugh M. Hefner, the pipe-smoking hedonist who revved up the sexual revolution within the 1950s and constructed a multimedia empire of golf equipment, mansions, films and tv, symbolized by way of bow-tied girls in bunny costumes, has died at age 91.

Hefner died of herbal reasons at his house surrounded by way of circle of relatives on Wednesday night time, Playboy stated in a commentary.

As a lot as someone, Hefner helped slip intercourse out of the confines of simple brown wrappers and into mainstream dialog.

In 1953, a time when states may just legally ban contraceptives, when the phrase “pregnant” was once no longer allowed on “I Love Lucy,” Hefner printed the primary factor of Playboy, that includes bare pictures of Marilyn Monroe (taken years previous) and an article promise of “humor, sophistication and spice.” The Great Depression and World War II have been over and America was once in a position to get undressed.

Playboy quickly changed into forbidden fruit for youths and a bible for males with money and time, primed for the mag’s prescribed evenings of dimmed lighting fixtures, laborious beverages, cushy jazz, deep ideas and deeper needs. Within a yr, circulate neared 200,000. Within 5 years, it had crowned 1 million.

Playboy founder and editor in leader Hugh Hefner receives kisses from Playboy playmates in Cannes, France, Friday, May 14, 1999 right through the 52nd Cannes Film Festival. (AP Photo/Laurent Rebours)

Playboy thinker Hugh Hefner says his 200 million greenback empire is atmosphere down after a flamboyant formative years and a tumultuous formative years, Nov. 16, 1977. (AP Photo/Carlos Rene Perez)

By the 1970s, the mag had greater than 7 million readers and had impressed such raunchier imitations as Penthouse and Hustler. Competition and the web lowered circulate to not up to three million by way of the 21st century, and the collection of problems printed once a year was once reduce from 12 to 11. In 2015, Playboy ceased publishing photographs of bare girls, mentioning the proliferation of nudity on the web.

But Hefner and Playboy remained logo names international.

Asked by way of The New York Times in 1992 of what he was once proudest, Hefner spoke back: “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.”

Hefner ran Playboy from his elaborate mansions, first in Chicago after which in Los Angeles, and changed into the flowery image of the way of life he espoused. For many years he was once the pipe-smoking, silk-pajama-wearing heart of a relentless birthday party with celebrities and Playboy fashions. By his personal account, Hefner had intercourse with greater than 1000 girls, together with many pictured in his mag. One of rock n’ roll’s maximum decadent excursions, the Rolling Stones displays of 1972, featured a forestall at the Hefner mansion.

Throughout the 1960s, Hefner left Chicago just a few occasions. In the early 1970s, he purchased the second one mansion in Los Angeles, flying between his properties on a non-public DC-Nine dubbed “The Big Bunny,” which boasted an enormous Playboy bunny emblazoned at the tail.

Hefner was once host of a tv display, “Playboy After Dark,” and in 1960 opened a string of golf equipment around the globe the place waitresses wore revealing costumes with bunny ears and fluffy white bunny tails. In the 21st century, he was once again on tv in a cable truth display — “The Girls Next Door” — with 3 live-in girlfriends within the Los Angeles Playboy mansion. Network tv in short embraced Hefner’s empire in 2011 with the NBC drama “The Playboy Club,” which did not entice audience and was once canceled after 3 episodes.

Censorship was once inevitable, beginning within the 1950s, when Hefner effectively sued to forestall the U.S. Postal Service from denying him second-class mailing standing. Playboy has been banned in China, India, Saudi Arabia and Ireland, and 7-Eleven retail outlets for years didn’t promote the mag. Stores that did be offering Playboy made certain to inventory it on a better shelf.

Women have been warned from the primary factor: “If you’re somebody’s sister, wife, or mother-in-law,” the mag declared, “and picked us up by mistake, please pass us along to the man in your life and get back to Ladies Home Companion.”

Hugh Hefner, heart, poses with a gaggle of present and previous Playboy bunnies at the Playboy Club, Tuesday, June 25, 1986, Los Angeles, Calif. (AP Photo)

In this April 26, 2010 document photograph, Hugh Hefner, left, and Crystal Harris arrive at the premiere of “Iron Man 2” at the El Capitan Theatre in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles, File)

Playboy proved an endemic, and a temptation. Drew Barrymore, Farrah Fawcett and Linda Evans are amongst those that have posed for the mag. Several bunnies changed into celebrities, too, together with singer Deborah Harry and style Lauren Hutton, either one of whom had fond reminiscences in their time with Playboy. Other bunnies had aggravating reviews, with a number of alleging that they had been raped by way of Hefner’s shut buddy Bill Cosby, who confronted dozens of such allegations. Hefner issued a commentary in overdue 2014 he “would never tolerate this behavior.” But two years later, former bunny Chloe Goins sued Cosby and Hefner for sexual battery, gender violence and different fees over an alleged 2008 rape.

One bunny grew to become out to be a journalist: Feminist Gloria Steinem were given employed within the early 1960s and grew to become her temporary employment into an editorial for Show mag that described the golf equipment as excitement havens for males best. The bunnies, Steinem wrote, tended to be poorly skilled, overworked and underpaid. Steinem seemed the mag and golf equipment no longer as erotic, however “pornographic.”

“I think Hefner himself wants to go down in history as a person of sophistication and glamour. But the last person I would want to go down in history as is Hugh Hefner,” Steinem later stated.

“Women are the major beneficiaries of getting rid of the hypocritical old notions about sex,” Hefner spoke back. “Now some people are acting as if the sexual revolution was a male plot to get laid. One of the unintended by-products of the women’s movement is the association of the erotic impulse with wanting to hurt somebody.”

Hefner added that he was once a powerful recommend of First Amendment, civil rights and reproductive rights and that the mag contained way over centerfolds. Playboy serialized Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451” and later printed fiction by way of John Updike, Doris Lessing and Vladimir Nabokov. Playboy additionally specialised in lengthy and candid interviews, from Fidel Castro and Frank Sinatra to Marlon Brando and then-presidential candidate Jimmy Carter, who confided that he had “committed adultery” in his middle. John Lennon spoke to Playboy in 1980, no longer lengthy earlier than he was once murdered.

The line that individuals learn Playboy for the prose, no longer the images, was once best partially a shaggy dog story.

Playboy’s golf equipment additionally influenced the tradition, giving early breaks to such entertainers as George Carlin, Rich Little, Mark Russell, Dick Gregory and Redd Foxx. The remaining of the golf equipment closed in 1988, when Hefner deemed them “passe” and “too tame for the times.”

By then Hefner had constructed a $200 million corporate by way of increasing Playboy to incorporate world editions of the mag, casinos, a cable community and a movie manufacturing corporate. In 2006, he were given again into the membership industry together with his Playboy Club at the Palms Casino in Las Vegas. A brand new undertaking in London adopted, in conjunction with recent reaction from girls’s teams, who protested the outlet with cries of “Eff off Hef!’”

Hefner favored to mention he was once untroubled by way of complaint, however in 1985 he suffered a gentle stroke that he blamed at the guide “The Killing of the Unicorn: Dorothy Stratten 1960-1980,” by way of filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich. Stratten was once a Playmate killed by way of her husband, Paul Snider, who then killed himself. Bogdanovich, Stratton’s boyfriend at the time, wrote that Hefner helped result in her homicide and was once not able to take care of “what he and his magazine do to women.”

After the stroke, Hefner passed keep watch over of his empire to his feminist daughter, Christie, despite the fact that he owned 70 p.c of Playboy inventory and endured to make a choice each and every month’s Playmate and canopy shot. Christie Hefner endured as CEO till 2009.

He additionally stopped the use of leisure medicine and attempted much less to at all times be the lifetime of the birthday party. He tearfully famous in a 1992 New York Times interview: “I’ve spent so much of my life looking for love in all the wrong places.”

fifth September 1969: Hugh Hefner, head of the Playboy Clubs on a consult with to his London membership in Park Lane, London. With him is his 19 yr outdated woman buddy Barbara Benton and a gaggle of Bunny Girls. (Photo by way of Central Press/Getty Images)

Hefner and Playboy bunnies arrive at the Super Bowl Playboy Party at the River City Brewing Company on February five, 2005 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Playboy founder Hugh Hefner displays off his limo out of doors Barfly March 2, 2002 in West Hollywood, CA. (David Klein/Getty Images)

Not unusually, Hefner’s marriage lifestyles was once additionally somewhat of a display. In 1949, he married Mildred Williams, with whom he had two kids. They divorced in 1958. In July 1989, Hefner married Kimberley Conrad, the 1989 Playmate of the Year, who was once then 27. The couple additionally had two kids.

On the eve of his marriage, Hefner was once requested if he would have a bachelor birthday party. “I’ve had a bachelor party for 30 years,” he stated. “Why do I need one now?”

They separated in 1998 however she endured residing subsequent door to the Playboy mansion with their two sons. The couple divorced in 2010 and he proposed in 2011 to 24-year-old Crystal Harris, a former Playmate. Harris known as off the marriage days earlier than the rite, however modified her thoughts and so they married at the top of 2012.

“Maybe I should be single,” he stated a couple of months later. “But I do know that I need an ongoing romantic relationship. In other words, I am essentially a very romantic person, and all I really was looking for, quite frankly, with the notion of marriage was continuity and something to let the girl know that I really cared.”

He stated, at age 85, that “I never really found my soulmate.”

Hefner was once born in Chicago on April Nine, 1926, to religious Methodist oldsters who he stated by no means confirmed “love in a physical or emotional way.”

“At a very early age, I began questioning a lot of that religious foolishness about man’s spirit and body being in conflict, with God primarily with the spirit of man and the Devil dwelling in the flesh,” Hefner stated in a Playboy interview in 1974.

“Part of the reason that I am who I am is my Puritan roots run deep,” he instructed the AP in 2011. “My folks are Puritan. My folks are prohibitionists. There was no drinking in my home. No discussion of sex. And I think I saw the hurtful and hypocritical side of that from very early on. ”

Hefner beloved films all the way through his lifestyles, calling them “my other family.” He screened vintage motion pictures and new releases at the mansion each and every week. Every yr on his April Nine birthday, he’d run his favourite movie, “Casablanca,” and invite visitors to decorate within the models of the 1940s.

He was once a playboy earlier than Playboy, even right through his first marriage, when he loved stag motion pictures, strip poker and staff intercourse. His bunny obsession started with the figures that adorned a adolescence blanket. Years later, a real-life subspecies of rabbit at the endangered species listing, within the Florida Keys, could be named for him: Sylvilagus palustris hefneri.

When Hefner was once Nine, he started publishing a local newspaper, which he bought for a penny a duplicate. He spent a lot of his time writing and drawing cartoons, and in center college started studying Esquire, of intercourse and substance Hefner sought after Playboy to emulate.

He and Playboy co-founder Eldon Sellers introduced their mag from Hefner’s kitchen in Chicago, despite the fact that the primary factor was once undated as a result of Hefner doubted there could be a moment. The mag was once intended to be known as Stag Party, till an out of doors mag named Stag threatened felony motion.

Hefner recalled that he first reinvented himself in highschool in Chicago at 16, when he was once rejected by way of a woman he had a overwhelm on. He started relating to himself as Hef as a substitute of Hugh, realized the jitterbug and started drawing a comic book guide, “a kind of autobiography that put myself center stage in a life I created for myself,” he stated in a 2006 interview with the AP.

Those comics developed into an in depth scrapbook that Hefner would stay all the way through his lifestyles. It spanned greater than 2,500 volumes in 2011 — a Guinness World Record for a non-public scrapbook assortment.

“It was probably just a way of creating a world of my own to share with my friends,” Hefner stated, seated amid the archives of his lifestyles right through a 2011 interview. “And in retrospect, in thinking about it, it’s not a whole lot different than creating the magazine.”

He did it once more in 1960, when he started internet hosting the TV display, purchased a posh automobile, began smoking a pipe and acquired the primary Playboy mansion.

“Well, if we hadn’t had the Wright brothers, there would still be airplanes,” Hefner stated in 1974. “If there hadn’t been an Edison, there would still be electric lights. And if there hadn’t been a Hefner, we’d still have sex. But maybe we wouldn’t be enjoying it as much. So the world would be a little poorer. Come to think of it, so would some of my relatives.”

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