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‘Playboy’ Founder Hugh Hefner, Champion Of Free Speech And ‘Smut’, Dies At 91

  • Hugh Hefner combined Playboy after operative as a cartoonist for Esquire. He's graphic here during a Playboy Mansion in 2010.

  • Hefner looks over explanation sheets for Playboy in 1961 in Chicago.

  • Hefner and then-girlfriend Barbi Benton arrive during France's Paris-Le Bourget Airport with Playboy playmates in 1970.

  • Hefner lounges in a backyard of his Los Angeles palace in 1975.

  • Hefner poses with Playboy playmates during a 1999 Cannes Film Festival in France.

  • Hefner, graphic here in 2011, spent a final decades of his life some-more as a informative pitch than a force.


Hugh Hefner combined Playboy during his kitchen list in Chicago. The repository was blamed for (or credited with) environment off a informative series in America, though within a few years Hefner was branded a masculine chauvinist. He was a proponent of giveaway debate and a champion of polite rights who was decried as a businessman of smut.

Hefner died Wednesday during a age of 91, a repository announced in a statement, essay that he “peacefully upheld divided currently from healthy causes during his home, The Playboy Mansion, surrounded by desired ones.”

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“My father lived an well-developed and impactful life as a media and informative colonize and a heading voice behind some of a many poignant amicable and informative movements of a time in advocating giveaway speech, polite rights and passionate freedom,” Hefner’s son Cooper, now a company’s arch artistic officer, wrote in a company’s statment. “He tangible a lifestyle and ethos that distortion during a heart of a Playboy brand.”

Playboy published superb writers (Joseph Heller, Margaret Atwood, Norman Mailer) and sold interviews with acclaimed and argumentative figures, including Fidel Castro, Miles Davis and Malcolm X. But who are we kidding? The repository done millions since critical pieces were printed on a flip side of cinema of exposed women.

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In 2007, Hefner told NPR, “The playmate of a month, a centerfold, came directly out of a influences of pinup photography and art from World War II and before. But what set them detached was what we described during a time as a lady subsequent door: It all comes from that idea of being a fresh, wholesome, all-American person, and — in a context of a playmate — a passionate icon. The approval … that good girls like sex, too. Very insubordinate in a 1950s.”

“I Get It For The Articles”

In 1952, Hefner was operative as a cartoonist for Esquire repository in Chicago. When he was incited down for a $5 raise, he motionless to try something new: Hefner collected $8,000 from 50 investors, including his mother, to emanate a antecedent for a new magazine. He found a 5-year-old shot of a bare indication in a files of a Chicago calendar company, and bought it for $500. The indication was Marilyn Monroe, before she had turn a star, and a repository sole out in days.

Michael Hainey, who has worked as an editor during GQ and Esquire, says, “The fun about Playboy is: ‘I get it for a articles.’ But in fact a broadcasting in it was profound. … [Hefner] was experimenting always with edition controversial, cutting-edge stuff.”

In 1955, Playboy published Charles Beaumont’s “The Crooked Man,” a brief story set a destiny where a infancy of a race is happy and heterosexual group are persecuted. It was creatively deserted by Esquire. “He always paid tip dollar for fiction, published a lot of authors who never would’ve found an audience,” Hainey says. ” … He fought a lot of battles in terms of a First Amendment and giveaway speech.”

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The 1950s were a buttoned-down time, though Playboy was unbuttoned — all about jazz, drink and swinging. The magazine’s success led Hefner to emanate Playboy Clubs in Chicago in 1960. He hired black comics like Dick Gregory and Bill Cosby during a time when many clubs were segregated, and he gave gigs to comic Lenny Bruce notwithstanding his many trash charges.

But Hefner’s form as a hip, magnanimous regretful was burst by a arise of feminism in a 1970s, when he and Playboy were indicted of demeaning women as sex objects. In 2003, on Playboy‘s 50th anniversary, Hefner told NPR, “I commend that we sojourn — even after half a century — a argumentative figure, though America has always had conflicts associated to things associated to sex. In other words, we sojourn radically a unequivocally Puritan people.”

He also reframed a sex intent criticism, saying, “I consider we ought to speak to a women who’ve been in a repository and see how they feel about that. we mean, what is some-more Puritan than somebody who has a clever opinion about somebody else’s life and who disapproves of it since somehow or other it’s not their sold way?”

As renouned enlightenment changed, Playboy was held between critics, who deliberate Hefner a button of anti-feminism, and competitors like Larry Flynt’s Hustler, who were pithy to a indicate of raunchy. Circulation declined, Playboy Clubs sealed and in a 1980s Hefner handed control of a repository over to his daughter, Christie Hefner. She told NPR in 2003 that she believes a craving her father founded didn’t debase women. In fact, it towering a onslaught for polite rights and giveaway speech.

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She said, “If we wish to revoke a repository to a core 3 pages, then, in effect, you’ve objectified a repository as most as anything else.”

“Sex Was Handed To Us By The Powers That Be”

Hugh Hefner spent a final decades of his life some-more as a informative pitch than a force. He relocated to a Southern Californian palace (complete with a koi pond, diversion room, grotto and film theater) to horde intemperate parties. But a horde reportedly mostly stayed in his bedroom suite, operative in silk pajamas on his turn bed.

At a time of his 2003 NPR interview, Hefner common his palace with 7 women, all immature adequate to be his granddaughters. But a male who set out to approximate himself with sexuality and extravagance looked removed and lonely. He pronounced his eventful life had assured him intrigue was an illusion:

Sex was handed to us by a powers that be, though intrigue is something that we invented, that is singular to humankind. And what’s engaging about a Western regretful tradition, of course, is that some of a classics are, we know, Romeo and Juliet, where everybody dies. … In a angel tales it’s pursuit, and afterwards ‘they lived happily ever after.’ But we never unequivocally understanding with “they lived happily ever after.”