Hugh Hefner, who founded the legendary Playboy in 1953, a magazine whose at times scintillating writing has been eclipsed by its photoshoots, died of natural causes at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles on Wednesday. He was 91.
Hefner’s son and Chief Creative Officer of Playboy Enterprises, Cooper Hefner, wrote a statement about his father’s passing, “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.”
Playboy’s legacy stands defined by Hefner’s advocacy for the First Amendment, in tandem with his very specific vision of what a beautiful woman is (which was also defined by his battles with feminists of many generations over what that vision meant for society at large). Though the recent strength of the company has been tenuous, Playboy Enterprises became much more than just a magazine; Hefner’s achievements across many forms of media were hosting the ’50s and ’60s TV show Playboy’s Penthouse and co-producing hundreds of Playboy-branded videos and other feature films (Roman Polanski’s Macbeth; Monty Python’s And Now for Something Completely Different). And speaking of media, many young people’s first introduction to Hefner was through watching E!’s reality show about his numerous young blonde girlfriends, The Girls Next Door.
Hefner is survived by his wife Crystal, and his children Cooper, Marston, and David, as well as his daughter Christie, former CEO of Playboy Enterprises. Friends, admirers, culture vultures, celebs, partisans and everyone else is chiming in on the Internet:
Whatever you think of him after tallying the good and the bad, his legacy, his brand, and the musty (I’m assuming) smell of his smoking jackets were so strong that his passing feels immediately uncanny. What I wouldn’t give to ponder this momentous occasion from the foaming depths of a hot tub, but a tumbler of something will have to do.