Hugh Hefner has died at the Playboy Mansion of natural causes aged 91, it has been confirmed.
The iconic founder of Playboy magazine, founded more than 60 years ago with $600 of his own money and $1,000 borrowed from his mother, is said to have lived an ‘impactful life’.
In a statement by Playboy Enterprises, Cooper Hefner, the company’s chief creative officer and Hugh’s son, said:
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.
— Playboy (@Playboy) September 28, 2017
Hefner is survived by his wife Crystal and four children – Christie, who served as CEO of Playboy Enterprise for more than 20 years, David, Marston and Cooper.
Hefner was born in April 1926 in Chicago to strict religious parents. He was an intelligent child with an IQ supposedly around 152, but his teachers called him ‘unenthusiastic’.
In high school he began a student newspaper and took up various humanitarian causes. He graduated in 1944 where he joined the Army as an infantry clerk and continued writing and drawing cartoons in military newspapers. He was discharged in 1946 and came up with the idea for Playboy.
After the Army he did a course at the Art Institute of Chicago before moving to the University of Illinois where he edited a campus magazine called Shaft. There he created the ‘Coed of the Month’ section which would later shape his ideas for Playboy.
Hef focused on the issues of personal freedom and wrote a lengthy paper about sex laws in America. Despite struggling after college, Hefner managed to get a job at Esquire copywriting and moved to the offices in New York.
He asked for a $5 raise but was turned down and so Hef left. And then, in 1953, he managed to scrape together the money from family and friends to start Playboy.
The rest, as we know, is history.