Hugh Hefner, Playboy Founder Dies At 91

Updated Thursday 28 September 2017 10:38
Hugh Hefner, Playboy Founder Dies At 91
Hugh Hefner, the Playboy founder and icon of the sexual revolution, died on Wednesday at the age of 91. Playboy Enterprises announced that he “peacefully passed away today from natural causes at his home, The Playboy Mansion, surrounded by loved ones.”

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Playboy launched in 1953 when Hefner was a 27-year-old new father, married, according to him, to the first woman he ever slept with. After serving in the U.S. Army as a writer for a military magazine, the native Chicagoan had graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in psychology. In 1953, shortly after quitting his job as a copywriter at Esquire, he borrowed $8,000 to produce Playboy’s inaugural issue.

Playboy’s debut featured nude photos of Marlyn Monroe from a 1949 calendar shoot, which Hefner purchased for $200. “If you’re a man between the ages of 18 and 80, Playboy is meant for you,” Hefner wrote in his first publisher’s message. He declared it wasn’t a “family magazine” – or anything like the other men’s magazine’s currently on the market in puritanical post-war America.

“Most of today’s ‘magazines for men’ spend all their time out-of-doors - thrashing through thorny thickets or splashing about in fast-flowing streams,” he said. “We enjoy mixing up cocktails and an hors d’oeuvre or two, putting a little mood music on the phonograph, and inviting in a female acquaintance for a quiet discussion on Picasso, Nietzsche, jazz, sex.”

Hefner was so concerned that his magazine wouldn’t sell that he left the date off the cover of the first issue, in case there wasn’t a second – but Playboy was a hit. After a year circulation was near 200,000, and within five years it was over 1 million. It peaked with the November 1972 issue, which sold 7.16 million copies. By then Playboy had a slew of raunchier competitors, such as Penthouse and Hustler, and sales gradually declined.

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