Publisher, editor, businessman and icon Hugh Hefner has died. He was 91 years old.
Hefner was best known as the longtime editor of Playboy magazine, which he founded in 1953. From Wikipedia:
While he was working as a copywriter for Esquire, Hefner left in January 1952 after being denied a $5 raise. In 1953, he took out a mortgage, generating a bank loan of $600, and raised $8,000 from 45 investors, including $1,000 from his mother (“Not because she believed in the venture,” he told E! in 2006, “but because she believed in her son.”), to launch Playboy, which was initially going to be called Stag Party. The first issue, published in December 1953, featured Marilyn Monroe from her 1949 nude calendar shoot and sold over 50,000 copies.(Hefner, who never met Monroe, bought the crypt next to hers at the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in 1992 for $75,000.)
After the Charles Beaumont science fiction short story “The Crooked Man” was rejected by Esquire magazine in 1955, Hefner agreed to publish it in Playboy. The story highlighted straight men being persecuted in a world where homosexuality was the norm. After the magazine received angry letters, Hefner wrote a response to criticism where he said, “If it was wrong to persecute heterosexuals in a homosexual society then the reverse was wrong, too.”
Following Hefner’s death at home on Wednesday, Cooper Hefner, Hef’s son and the current chief creative officer of Playboy Enterprises, released a statement remembering his father:
My father lived an exceptional and impactful life as a media and cultural pioneer and a leading voice behind some of the most significant social and cultural movements of our time in advocating free speech, civil rights and sexual freedom. He defined a lifestyle and ethos that lie at the heart of the Playboy brand, one of the most recognizable and enduring in history. He will be greatly missed by many, including his wife Crystal, my sister Christie and my brothers David and Marston and all of us at Playboy Enterprises.
In the same statement, it was remarked upon that Playboy magazine was always “more than just the beautiful women featured in its pages. Mr. Hefner took a progressive approach not only to sexuality and humor, but also to literature, politics and culture. Within its pages, Playboy published fiction by such writers as Ray Bradbury, Charles Beaumont, John Updike, Ian Fleming, Joseph Heller, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Margaret Atwood, Jack Kerouac and Kurt Vonnegut.”