Hugh Hefner, renowned founder of Playboy, passes away at age 91

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Kristian Dowling/ AP This Oct. 13, 2011 file image reveals American publication publisher, creator and Chief Creative Officer of Playboy Enterprises, Hugh Hefner at his house at the Playboy Mansion in Beverly Hills, Calif.

Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017|8:40 p.m.

LOS ANGELES– Playboy creator Hugh M. Hefner, the pipe-smoking hedonist who revved up the sexual transformation in the 1950s and built a multimedia empire of clubs, mansions, motion pictures and tv, signified by bow-tied women in bunny outfits, has died at age 91.

Hefner died of natural causes at his house surrounded by family on Wednesday night, Playboy stated in a statement.

As much as anyone, Hefner helped slip sex from the boundaries of plain brown wrappers and into mainstream discussion.

In 1953, a time when states might legally prohibit contraceptives, when the word “pregnant” was not permitted on “I Love Lucy,” Hefner published the very first problem of Playboy, featuring naked pictures of Marilyn Monroe (taken years earlier) and an editorial guarantee of “humor, sophistication and spice.” The Great Depression and The second world war were over and America was ready to get undressed.

Playboy quickly became prohibited fruit for teens and a bible for males with time and money, primed for the magazine’s recommended evenings of dimmed lights, difficult drinks, soft jazz, deep thoughts and deeper desires. Within a year, blood circulation neared 200,000. Within five years, it had topped 1 million.

By the 1970s, the magazine had more than 7 million readers and had inspired such raunchier replicas as Penthouse and Hustler. Competitors and the web lowered circulation to less than 3 million by the 21st century, and the variety of issues published yearly was cut from 12 to 11. In 2015, Playboy ceased publishing images of naked ladies, pointing out the expansion of nudity on the internet.

However Hefner and Playboy remained brand worldwide.

Asked by The New york city Times in 1992 of what he was proudest, Hefner reacted: “That I changed mindsets towards sex. That great individuals can live together now. That I decontaminated the notion of premarital sex. That gives me great satisfaction.”

Hefner ran Playboy from his sophisticated estates, initially in Chicago and after that in Los Angeles, and became the flamboyant sign of the way of life he upheld. For decades he was the pipe-smoking, silk-pajama-wearing center of a constant celebration with stars and Playboy designs. By his own account, Hefner made love with more than a thousand females, consisting of many imagined in his magazine. One of rock n’ roll’s most decadent trips, the Rolling Stones reveals of 1972, featured a stop at the Hefner estate.

Throughout the 1960s, Hefner left Chicago just a couple of times. In the early 1970s, he purchased the 2nd estate in Los Angeles, flying in between his homes on a private DC-9 called “The Big Bunny,” which boasted a giant Playboy bunny emblazoned on the tail.

Hefner was host of a television show, “Playboy After Dark,” and in 1960 opened a string of clubs all over the world where waitresses used exposing costumes with bunny ears and fluffy white bunny tails. In the 21st century, he was back on tv in a cable television truth program– “The Girls Next Door”– with three live-in sweethearts in the Los Angeles Playboy mansion. Network television briefly embraced Hefner’s empire in 2011 with the NBC drama “The Playboy Club,” which cannot draw viewers and was canceled after 3 episodes.

Censorship was inescapable, beginning in the 1950s, when Hefner effectively took legal action against to avoid the United States Postal Service from denying him second-class mailing status. Playboy has actually been prohibited in China, India, Saudi Arabia and Ireland, and 7-Eleven shops for several years did not sell the magazine. Stores that did offer Playboy made sure to equip it on a higher shelf.

Ladies were alerted from the very first concern: “If you’re someone’s sibling, wife, or mother-in-law,” the publication declared, “and selected us up by error, please pass us along to the man in your life and return to Ladies House Buddy.”

Playboy proved a scourge, and a temptation. Drew Barrymore, Farrah Fawcett and Linda Evans are amongst those who have positioned for the publication. Several bunnies became stars, too, including vocalist Deborah Harry and design Lauren Hutton, both of whom had fond memories of their time with Playboy. Other bunnies had traumatic experiences, with a number of alleging they had been raped by Hefner’s friend Costs Cosby, who faced lots of such accusations. Hefner released a declaration in late 2014 he “would never endure this behavior.” But 2 years later, previous bunny Chloe Goins took legal action against Cosby and Hefner for sexual battery, gender violence and other charges over a supposed 2008 rape.

One bunny ended up being a journalist: Feminist Gloria Steinem got hired in the early 1960s and turned her brief employment into an article for Program publication that described the clubs as pleasure havens for guys just. The bunnies, Steinem composed, had the tendency to be badly educated, overworked and underpaid. Steinem related to the magazine and clubs not as sexual, however “pornographic.”

“I think Hefner himself wishes to go down in history as a person of sophistication and glamour. However the last person I would wish to go down in history as is Hugh Hefner,” Steinem later on said.

“Ladies are the major beneficiaries of eliminating the hypocritical old ideas about sex,” Hefner reacted. “Now some people are acting as if the sexual transformation was a male plot to get laid. Among the unexpected spin-offs of the women’s movement is the association of the erotic impulse with wanting to hurt someone.”

Hefner added that he was a strong advocate of First Amendment, civil liberties and reproductive rights and that the magazine contained even more than centerfolds. Playboy serialized Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451” and later published fiction by John Updike, Doris Lessing and Vladimir Nabokov. Playboy also specialized in long and candid interviews, from Fidel Castro and Frank Sinatra to Marlon Brando and then-presidential candidate Jimmy Carter, who confided that he had “devoted infidelity” in his heart. John Lennon spoke to Playboy in 1980, not long prior to he was killed.

The line that individuals check out Playboy for the prose, not the photos, was just partially a joke.

Playboy’s clubs likewise affected the culture, offering early breaks to such entertainers as George Carlin, Rich Little, Mark Russell, Dick Gregory and Redd Foxx. The last of the clubs closed in 1988, when Hefner considered them “passe” and “too tame for the times.”

By then Hefner had constructed a $200 million company by broadening Playboy to include international editions of the publication, gambling establishments, a cable network and a film production business. In 2006, he returned into the club business with his Playboy Club at the Palms Casino in Las Vegas. A brand-new business in London followed, along with fresh response from females’s groups, who opposed the opening with cries of “Eff off Hef!'”

Hefner preferred to state he was untroubled by criticism, but in 1985 he suffered a mild stroke that he blamed on the book “The Killing of the Unicorn: Dorothy Stratten 1960-1980,” by filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich. Stratten was a Buddy eliminated by her husband, Paul Snider, who then eliminated himself. Bogdanovich, Stratton’s sweetheart at the time, wrote that Hefner assisted bring about her murder and was unable to deal with “what he and his publication do to women.”

After the stroke, Hefner handed control of his empire to his feminist child, Christie, although he owned 70 percent of Playboy stock and continued to pick monthly’s Buddy and cover shot. Christie Hefner continued as CEO up until 2009.

He also stopped utilizing recreational drugs and tried less to constantly be the life of the party. He tearfully noted in a 1992 New york city Times interview: “I have actually invested so much of my life trying to find love in all the incorrect locations.”

Not remarkably, Hefner’s marital relationship life was also a bit of a show. In 1949, he married Mildred Williams, with whom he had two kids. They divorced in 1958. In July 1989, Hefner wed Kimberley Conrad, the 1989 Playmate of the Year, who was then 27. The couple likewise had 2 kids.

On the eve of his marital relationship, Hefner was asked if he would have a bachelor party. “I’ve had a bachelor party for Thirty Years,” he said. “Why do I require one now?”

They separated in 1998 however she continued living next door to the Playboy estate with their 2 sons. The couple divorced in 2010 and he proposed in 2011 to 24-year-old Crystal Harris, a former Buddy. Harris called off the wedding days before the event, however altered her mind and they wed at the end of 2012.

“Maybe I must be single,” he said a couple of months later. “However I do understand that I require a continuous romantic relationship. Simply puts, I am basically a really romantic individual, and all I actually was trying to find, quite frankly, with the notion of marital relationship was continuity and something to let the girl know that I truly cared.”

He acknowledged, at age 85, that “I never ever really discovered my soulmate.”

Hefner was born in Chicago on April 9, 1926, to devout Methodist moms and dads who he stated never showed “love in a physical or emotional way.”

“At a very early age, I started questioning a lot of that religious absurdity about male’s spirit and body remaining in conflict, with God primarily with the spirit of man and the Devil residence 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 informed the AP in 2011. “My folks are Puritan. My folks are prohibitionists. There was no drinking in my house. No conversation of sex. And I believe I saw the upsetting and hypocritical side of that from really early on. “

Hefner enjoyed movies throughout his life, calling them “my other household.” He evaluated timeless movies and brand-new releases at the mansion every week. Every year on his April 9 birthday, he ‘d run his favorite movie, “Casablanca,” and invite visitors to wear the fashions of the 1940s.

He was a playboy before Playboy, even throughout his first marriage, when he took pleasure in stag films, strip poker and group sex. His bunny obsession started with the figures that embellished a youth blanket. Years later, a real-life subspecies of rabbit on the threatened species list, in the Florida Keys, would be called for him: Sylvilagus palustris hefneri.

When Hefner was 9, he started releasing a neighborhood paper, which he cost a cent a copy. He spent much of his time writing and drawing cartoons, and in intermediate school started checking out Esquire, a publication of sex and substance Hefner desired Playboy to emulate.

He and Playboy co-founder Eldon Sellers introduced their magazine from Hefner’s kitchen in Chicago, although the first issue was undated since Hefner doubted there would be a 2nd. The magazine was supposed to be called Stag Celebration, until an outside magazine called Stag threatened legal action.

Hefner remembered that he initially transformed himself in high school in Chicago at 16, when he was rejected by a woman he had a crush on. He started referring to himself as Hef rather of Hugh, found out the jitterbug and started drawing a comic book, “a sort of autobiography that put myself spotlight in a life I developed for myself,” he stated in a 2006 interview with the AP.

Those comics progressed into a comprehensive scrapbook that Hefner would keep throughout his life. It spanned more than 2,500 volumes in 2011– a Guinness World Record for a personal scrapbook collection.

“It was probably just a method of developing a world of my own to show my good friends,” Hefner stated, seated amidst the archives of his life throughout a 2011 interview. “And in retrospection, in considering it, it’s not a great deal different than producing the publication.”

He did it once again in 1960, when he began hosting the TELEVISION show, bought an elegant car, began smoking a pipe and purchased the first Playboy mansion.

“Well, if we had not had the Wright bros, 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 had not been a Hefner, we ‘d still make love. However perhaps we would not be enjoying it as much. So the world would be a little poorer. Come to think about it, so would a few of my loved ones.”

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