Hugh Hefner, the legend behind the massive Playboy empire, died this week at 91. Hefner, or "Hef," was known for creating Playboy magazine, first published in 1953.
Mr. Hefner published the first issue of Playboy at age 27. While at the time he was struggling financially and had recently moved out of his parents' home, his vision for Playboy was one of luxury and sexual liberation and freedom. The first issue, published in December 1953, featured nude photos of Marilyn Monroe from a 1949 calendar shoot and sold over 50,000 copies.
While publicly the magazine was criticized for its nudity and bold articles, circulation grew to one million by 1960, and rose to seven million in the 1970s. Eventually Mr. Hefner branched the magazine into movie and cable production, clothing and jewelry lines, and resorts and casinos.
Hefner had two children with his first wife, Mildred Williams, whom he divorced in 1959. Following the separation, Hefner gained notoriety for dating many of the "Playmates" featured in the magazine. He married Playmate of the Year Kimberley Conrad in 1989; the couple had two sons together before separating in 1998. Hef continued to be involved with many different women; at one point featuring his three live-in girlfriends on the reality television show The Girls Next Door, starring Holly Madison, Bridget Marquardt, and Kendra Wilkinson.
Christie Hefner, son of Hugh and Mildred, served as President and Chairman of the Board of Playboy Enterprises until 2009, which manages Playboy magazine. Mr. Hefner remained editor-in-chief of the magazine until his death. In 2016, Hefner handed creative control of the company over to his son, Cooper Hefner.
Hefner married then-25-year-old Crystal Harris in December of 2012. Hefner is survived by Harris and his four children. Hefner plans to be buried in Westwood Memorial Park in Los Angeles, in a mausoleum drawer directly next to Marilyn Monroe, which he purchased in 1992 for $75,000.
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