Hugh Hefner, who built a multimillion-dollar entertainment empire after founding Playboy magazine in 1953 with $600 of his own money, has died. The AP reports that Hefner died Wednesday night at his home in L.A., the storied Playboy Mansion.
Hefner reportedly died of natural causes. He was 91.
“In 1953, a time when states could legally ban contraceptives and the word ‘pregnant’ was not allowed on ‘I Love Lucy,’ Hefner published the first issue of Playboy, featuring naked photos of Marilyn Monroe and an editorial promise of ‘humor, sophistication and spice,'” the AP reports. “The Great Depression and World War II were over and Playboy soon became forbidden fruit for teens and a bible for men with time and money, primed for the magazine’s prescribed evenings of dimmed lights, hard drinks, soft jazz, deep thoughts and deeper desires. Within a year, circulation neared 200,000. Within five years, it had topped 1 million.”
With his pipe and silk pajamas, Hefner himself became the symbol of the lifestyle the magazine promoted.
“Hefner and Playboy were brand names worldwide,” the AP notes, quoting Hefner telling The New York Times in 1992 that the thing he was proudest of was “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.”
Here’s a report on Hefner’s death by Inside Edition …