“Hugh M. Hefner, the American icon who in 1952 introduced the world to “Playboy” magazine and built the company into one of the most recognizable American global brands in history, peacefully passed away today from natural causes in his home, surrounded by loved ones. He was 91 years old.”
Hefner’s son and chief creative officer of Playboy Enterprises, Cooper Hefner, issued the following statement:
“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.
Born in 1926 in Chicago, Hefner joined the Army as an infantry clerk after he graduated high school in 1944. He created cartoons for Army newspapers. After serving in World War II, he was honorably discharged in 1946.
Started in 1953, “Playboy” initially included short stories and cartoons, but eventually became famous and synonymous with nude centerfold photographs. Famously, the publication’s first centerfold was Marilyn Monroe.
The publication reached a height in the 1970s when it had more than 7 million readers. Its success made Hefner synonymous with silk robes, pipes and extravagant parties with women in bow-ties and bunny ears.
Although the Playboy mansion in Los Angeles is the most famous, the original mansion was bought in Chicago in 1960.
Reactions to Hefner’s death have poured in on social media: