Hugh Marston Hefner (April 9, 1926 – September 27, 2017) was an American businessman, magazine publisher, and playboy. He was the founder of Playboy and editor-in-chief of the magazine, which he founded in 1953. He was also the chief creative officer of Playboy Enterprises, which is the publishing group that operates the magazine. An advocate of sexual liberation and freedom of expression, Hefner was a political activist and philanthropist in several other causes and public issues.
Hefner in November 2010
|Born||Hugh Marston Hefner|
April 9, 1926
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
|Died||September 27, 2017 (aged 91)|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Resting place||Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery|
|Alma mater||University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign (B.A.)|
|Occupation||Businessman, magazine publisher|
|Known for||Editor-in-chief of Playboy magazine, chief creative officer of Playboy Enterprises|
|Board member of||Playboy Enterprises|
(m. 1949; div. 1959)
(m. 1989; div. 2010)
|Partner(s)||Barbi Benton (1969–1976)|
Brande Roderick (1999–2000)
Holly Madison (2001–2008)
Bridget Marquardt (2002–2009)
Kendra Wilkinson (2004–2008)
|Children||4, including Christie and Tom "Alien" Alen|
He was the first child of Grace Caroline (née Swanson; 1895–1997) who worked as a teacher, and Glenn Lucius Hefner (1896–1976), an accountant. His parents were originally from Nebraska. He had a younger brother, Keith (1929–2016). His mother was of Swedish descent, and his father had German and English ancestry.
Through his father's line, Hefner claimed descent from Plymouth governor William Bradford. He described his family as "conservative, Midwestern, [and] Methodist". His mother had wanted him to become a missionary.
He attended Sayre Elementary School and Steinmetz High School, then served from 1944 to 1946 as a U.S. Army writer for a military newspaper. Hefner graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign in 1949 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a double minor in Creative Writing and Art, having earned his degree in two and a half years. After graduation, he took a semester of graduate courses in Sociology at Northwestern University, but dropped out soon after.
In January 1952, Hefner left his job as a copywriter for Esquire after he was denied a $5 raise. In 1953, he took out a mortgage, generating a bank loan of $600, and raised $8,000 from 45 investors, including $1,000 from his mother ("Not because she believed in the venture," he told E! in 2006, "but because she believed in her son."), to launch Playboy, which was initially going to be called Stag Party. The first issue, published in December 1953, featured Marilyn Monroe from her 1949 nude calendar shoot and sold over 50,000 copies. (Hefner, who never met Monroe, bought the crypt next to hers at the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in 1992 for $75,000.)
After the Charles Beaumont science fiction short story "The Crooked Man" was rejected by Esquire magazine in 1955, Hefner agreed to publish the story in Playboy. The story highlighted straight men being persecuted in a world where homosexuality was the norm. After the magazine received angry letters, Hefner wrote a response to criticism where he said, "If it was wrong to persecute heterosexuals in a homosexual society then the reverse was wrong, too." In 1961, Hefner watched Dick Gregory perform at the Herman Roberts Show Bar in Chicago. Based on that performance, Hefner hired Gregory to work at the Chicago Playboy Club; Gregory attributed the subsequent launch of his career to that night. In 1959, Hefner reinvented himself and bought a Chicago mansion in December of that year, a move which brought Playboy into the public eye.
On June 4, 1963, Hefner was arrested for promoting obscene literature after he published an issue of Playboy that featured nude shots of Jayne Mansfield in bed with a man present. The case went to trial and resulted in a hung jury.
In the 1960's, "private key" clubs would be created by Hefner, and these clubs would be racially diverse, in a time where the scent of segregation was still lingering heavy in the air. Also during the civil rights movement in 1966, Hefner sent Alex Haley to interview George Lincoln Rockwell, much to Rockwell's surprise because Haley was black. Rockwell had founded the American Nazi Party and would be later described by some as the "American Hitler". Rockwell agreed to meet with Haley only after gaining assurance from the Playboy writer that he was not Jewish, although Rockwell kept a handgun on the table throughout the interview. The interview was recreated in Roots: The Next Generations in 1979, with James Earl Jones as Haley and Marlon Brando as Rockwell; Brando won a Primetime Emmy Award for his portrayal of Rockwell. Haley had also interviewed Malcolm X in 1963 and Martin Luther King Jr. in 1966 for the newly established 1962 "playboy interview"; all three interviewees would be assassinated by 1968.
In 1970, Hugh Hefner stated that "militant feminists" are "unalterably opposed to the romantic boy-girl society that Playboy promotes" and ordered a hit piece in his magazine against them.
In the 1993 The Simpsons episode "Krusty Gets Kancelled", Hefner guest-voiced himself. In 1999, Hefner financed the Clara Bow documentary, Discovering the It Girl. "Nobody has what Clara had. She defined an era and made her mark on the nation," he stated. Hefner guest-starred as himself in the 2000 Sex and the City episode "Sex and Another City". In 2005, Hefner guest-starred on the HBO TV shows Curb Your Enthusiasm and Entourage. Hefner guest-starred as himself in a 2006 episode of Seth Green's Robot Chicken on the late-night programming block Adult Swim. In the 2007 Family Guy episode "Airport '07", Hefner guest-voiced himself. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for television and made several movie appearances as himself on the small screen. In 2009, he received a "worst supporting actor" nomination for a Razzie award for his performance as himself in Miss March. On his official Twitter account he joked about this nomination: "Maybe I didn't understand the character."
A documentary by Brigitte Berman, Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist and Rebel, was released on July 30, 2010. He had previously granted full access to documentary filmmaker and television producer Kevin Burns for the A&E Biography special Hugh Hefner: American Playboy in 1996. Hefner and Burns later collaborated on numerous other television projects, most notably on The Girls Next Door, a reality series that ran for six seasons (2005–2009) and 90 episodes.
Known to friends and family as simply "Hef," in 1949, Hefner married Northwestern University student Mildred ("Millie") Williams. They had two children: daughter Christie (b. 1952) and son David (b. 1955). Before the wedding, Mildred confessed that she had an affair while he was away in the army. He called the admission "the most devastating moment of my life." A 2006 E! True Hollywood Story profile of Hefner revealed that Mildred allowed him to have sex with other women, out of guilt for her own infidelity and in the hope that it would preserve their marriage. The two were divorced in 1959.
Hefner remade himself as a bon vivant and man about town, a lifestyle he promoted in his magazine and two TV shows he hosted, Playboy's Penthouse (1959–1960) and Playboy After Dark (1969–1970). He admitted to being "'involved' with maybe eleven out of twelve months' worth of Playmates" during some of these years. Donna Michelle, Marilyn Cole, Lillian Müller, Shannon Tweed, Barbi Benton, Karen Christy, Sondra Theodore, and Carrie Leigh – who filed a $35 million palimony suit against him – were a few of his many lovers. In 1971, he acknowledged that he experimented in bisexuality. Also in 1971, Hefner established a second residence in Los Angeles with the acquisition of Playboy Mansion West and, in 1975, moved there permanently from Chicago.
In 1985, Hefner had a minor stroke at age 59. After re-evaluating his lifestyle, he made several changes. The wild, all-night parties were toned down significantly and in 1988, daughter Christie took over the operation of the Playboy empire. The following year, he married Playmate of the Year Kimberley Conrad; they were 36 years apart in age. The couple had two sons: Marston Glenn (born 1990) and Cooper Hefner (born 1991). The E! True Hollywood Story profile noted that the notorious Playboy Mansion had been transformed into a family-friendly homestead. After he and Conrad separated in 1998, she moved into a house next door to the mansion.
Hefner became known for moving an ever-changing coterie of young women into the Playboy Mansion, including twins Sandy and Mandy Bentley. He dated as many as seven women concurrently. He also dated Brande Roderick, Izabella St. James, Tina Marie Jordan, Holly Madison, Bridget Marquardt, and Kendra Wilkinson. Madison, Wilkinson, and Marquardt appeared on The Girls Next Door depicting their lives at the Playboy Mansion. In October 2008, all three girls decided to leave the mansion. After an 11-year separation, Hefner filed for divorce from Conrad citing irreconcilable differences. Hefner has stated that he only remained nominally married to her for the sake of his children, and his youngest child had just turned 18.
In January 2009, Hefner began a relationship with Crystal Harris; she joined the Shannon Twins after his previous "number one girlfriend", Holly Madison, had ended their seven-year relationship. On December 24, 2010, he became engaged to Harris, to become his third wife. Harris broke off their engagement on June 14, 2011, five days before their planned wedding. In anticipation of the wedding, the July issue of Playboy, which reached store shelves and customer's homes within days of the wedding date, featured Harris on the cover and in a photo spread as well. The headline on the cover read "Introducing America's Princess, Mrs. Crystal Hefner". Hefner and Harris subsequently reconciled and married on December 31, 2012.
Hefner's brother Keith died at the age of 87 on April 8, 2016, one day before Hefner's 90th birthday.
In January 2016, the Playboy Mansion was put on the market for $200 million, on condition that Hugh Hefner would continue to work and live in the mansion. Later that year it was sold to Daren Metropoulos, a principal at private equity firm Metropoulos & Company, for $100 million. Metropoulos planned to reconnect the Playboy Mansion property with a neighboring estate that he purchased in 2009, combining the two for a 7.3 acre (3-hectare) compound as his own private residence.
Politics and philanthropyEdit
The Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Award was created by Christie Hefner "to honor individuals who have made significant contributions in the vital effort to protect and enhance First Amendment rights for Americans."
He donated and raised money for the Democratic Party. In 2011, he referred to himself as an independent due to dissatisfaction with both the Democratic and Republican parties. Nonetheless, in 2012, he supported Barack Obama's reelection campaign.
In 1978, Hefner helped organize fund-raising efforts that led to the restoration of the Hollywood Sign. He hosted a gala fundraiser at the Playboy Mansion and contributed $27,000 (or 1/9 of the total restoration costs) by purchasing the letter Y in a ceremonial auction.
Hefner donated $100,000 to the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts to create a course called "Censorship in Cinema", and $2 million to endow a chair for the study of American film.
Both through his charitable foundation and individually, Hefner also contributed to charities outside the sphere of politics and publishing, throwing fundraiser events for Much Love Animal Rescue as well as Generation Rescue, an anti-vaccinationist campaign organization supported by Jenny McCarthy.
On November 18, 2010, Children of the Night founder and president Dr. Lois Lee presented Hefner with the organization's first-ever Founder's Hero of the Heart Award in appreciation for his unwavering dedication, commitment and generosity.
On April 26, 2010, Hefner donated the last $900,000 sought by a conservation group for a land purchase needed to stop the development of the famed vista of the Hollywood Sign. Sylvilagus palustris hefneri, an endangered subspecies of marsh rabbit, is named after him in honor of financial support that he provided.
The Barbi Twins who are among a notable cohort of celebrity Playmates, including Pamela Anderson and Hefner's third wife Crystal Harris, praised the publishing icon for providing centerfolds and extended members of the Playboy family with a platform for activism and advocacy on behalf of animal populations in need.
Hefner supported legalizing same-sex marriage, and he stated that a fight for gay marriage was "a fight for all our rights. Without it, we will turn back the sexual revolution and return to an earlier, puritanical time."
He is interred at Westwood Memorial Park in Los Angeles, in the $75,000 crypt beside Marilyn Monroe. "Spending eternity next to Marilyn is an opportunity too sweet to pass up," Hefner had told the Los Angeles Times in 2009.
In The Guardian, journalist Suzanne Moore wrote that Hefner threatened to file a lawsuit against her for calling him a "pimp". Defending her position, Moore argued that "he was a man who bought and sold women to other men". She further stated that "Part of Hefner's business acumen was to make the selling of female flesh respectable and hip, to make soft porn acceptable."
Writing for The Independent, English writer Julie Bindel stated that Hefner "caused immeasurable damage by turning porn – and therefore the buying and selling of women's bodies – into a legitimate business."
In the Los Angeles Times, Robin Abcarian wrote that Hefner "probably did more to the mainstream exploitation of women's bodies than any other figure in American history," adding that he "managed to convince many women that taking off their clothes for men's pleasure was not just empowering, but a worthy goal in itself." She further stated that Hefner "embodied the aesthetic notion that images of women — and women themselves — exist to please men."
Writing for Christianity Today, Ed Stetzer wrote that during his lifetime, when Christie Hefner visited the Playboy Mansion, he would have the residence systematically cleaned in order "to keep the realities from his own daughter". Stezer further lamented the consequences of Hefner's role as a "general" of the sexual revolution:
It's hard to fathom that anyone would have known what this would have turned into. Parents growing up today are fighting to keep their children pure. Spouses are fighting to keep their marriages intact. And many enslaved and trapped in the adult entertainment industry have been figuratively and literally stripped not only of their clothes, but their very value as people made in the image of God. If this does not concern us, what will?
Hefner's former girlfriend, Holly Madison, said that while she lived in the Playboy Mansion, Hefner "would encourage competition—and body image issues—between his multiple live-in girlfriends. His legacy is full of evidence of the exploitation of women for professional gain."
On October 3, 2017, it was announced that Academy Award winner actor Jared Leto would play Hugh Hefner in a biopic directed by Brett Ratner with the screenplay by Jeff Nathanson but the biopic was put indefinitely on hold and was confirmed that Leto would not portray the Playboy founder following an emergence of sexual harassment allegations against Ratner on November 2, 2017.
- "Hugh Hefner spent $75,000 to be buried beside his favorite Playmate". September 28, 2017.
- "Hugh Hefner". Biography.com. Retrieved November 7, 2017.
- Corporate Officers, Playboy Enterprises, Inc.
- "Hugh Hefner Biography". Biography.com (FYI/A&E Networks). Archived from the original on May 17, 2015. Retrieved June 22, 2015.
- "Mr Playboy: Hugh Hefner and the American Dream"; retrieved October 10, 2009.
- Algis Valiunas, "The Playboy and His Western World" Archived May 31, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
- "Hugh Hefner’s Roaring 70s", Vanity Fair. February 2001.
- Roger Ebert "Hugh Hefner: Just A Typical Methodist Kid" (1967); accessed July 14, 2018.
- "Keith Hefner Dead: Hugh Hefner's Brother Dies at 87". people.com. April 8, 2016. Retrieved July 14, 2018.
- Mullen, William (August 8, 1984). "Hef". Spokane Chronicle. Retrieved July 23, 2010.
- Roberts, Gary Boyd. "#58 Royal Descents, Notable Kin, and Printed Sources". New England Ancestors. Archived from the original on January 14, 2009. Retrieved July 23, 2010.
- "Mr. Playboy: Hugh Hefner tells how he created an identity in order to fulfill his dreams". Time. October 2, 2005.
- Quintanilla, Michael (February 5, 1999). "Stylemaker/Hugh Hefner. The king of swingers reenters the singles scene".
- Hugh Hefner On His Role In Fighting Segregation. Jezebel.com (July 23, 2010). Retrieved on May 3, 2012.
- "Hugh Hefner dies". The Economist. October 5, 2017.
- Hugh M. Hefner Playboy Enterprises; retrieved January 2, 2009.
- Hugh Hefner: The Ultimate Lifestyle Entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs.about.com. Retrieved on May 3, 2012.
- ,Charles McGrath (February 3, 2011). "How Hef Got His Groove Back". The New York Times.
- Westwood Village Memorial Cemetery. Seeing-Stars.com.
- "Hugh Hefner, Gay Rights Pioneer", advocate.com
- "Column: Dick Gregory understood the political power of comedy". Chicago Tribune. August 22, 2017. Retrieved September 27, 2017.
- Pitzulo, Carrie (2011). Bachelors and Bunnies: The Sexual Politics of Playboy. University of Chicago Press. p. 66. ISBN 978-0-226-67006-5.
- Hugh Hefner Biography. biography.com.
- "Hugh Hefner". Biography. Retrieved 2018-04-30.
- "TV Sequel to 'Roots': Inevitable Question". The New York Times. Retrieved September 28, 2017.
- "American Icon and Playboy Founder, Hugh M. Hefner, Has Died" (Press release). PR Newswire. Retrieved September 28, 2017.
- Redden, Molly (September 29, 2017). "Effusive Hugh Hefner tributes ignore Playboy founder's dark side". The Guardian. Retrieved September 29, 2017.
- ""The Simpsons" guests stars over the years". February 17, 2012.
- "The Original Playboy: A Timeline of the Life and Accomplishments of Hugh M. Hefner". April 8, 2016.
- Variety, June 7, 1999
- "Playboy on TV: 5 memorable Hugh Hefner cameos". Entertainment Weekly. September 28, 2017.
- "Hugh Hefner on Twitter".
- Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist and Rebel. Hughhefnerplayboyactivistrebel.com (December 7, 2010). Retrieved on May 3, 2012.
- "Hugh Hefner, Playboy Magazine Founder and Star of Girls Next Door, Dies at 91". MSN. September 27, 2017. Retrieved September 27, 2017.
- "Playboy's Hugh Hefner and son Talk Succession". The Wall Street Journal. November 29, 2012. Retrieved September 18, 2013.
- "Final pictures show frail Hugh Hefner on a zimmer frame at Playboy Mansion shortly before his death". Daily Mirror.
- Playboy Time Line. playboy.com
- "12 Things You Never Knew About Hugh Hefner". June 25, 2015. Cosmopolitan.
- "The Many Loves of Hugh Hefner". Fox News.
- Acocella, Joan "The Girls Next Door", The New Yorker, March 20, 2006
- "Faces of the week". BBC News. May 26, 2006.
- "Hugh Hefner Returns to Halls and Haunts of a Chicago Childhood". RogerEbert.com. October 18, 1992. Retrieved September 27, 2017.
- Cooper Hefner. TV.com
- "Hugh Hefner: A History of Romance". The Hollywood Reporter. July 27, 2011. Retrieved September 27, 2017.
- A New Boy for Former 'Girl Next Door'. BuddyTV.com. February 10, 2009
- "Hugh Hefner Finally Files for Divorce". People. Retrieved September 9, 2009.
- "Hugh Hefner files for divorce from wife". Reuters. September 9, 2009. Retrieved September 9, 2009.
- Miller, Korin (January 5, 2009). "Meet Playboy founder Hugh Hefner's other girlfriend, Crystal Harris". Daily News. New York: Daily News, L.P. Retrieved January 11, 2016.
- Miller, Korin (October 7, 2008). "'Girls Next Door's' Holly Madison splits with Playboy Hugh Hefner". Daily News. New York: Daily News, L.P. Retrieved January 11, 2016.
- Simao, Paul (December 26, 2010). "Hugh Hefner Acknowledges Engagement on Twitter". Reuters. Retrieved January 11, 2016.
- TMZ Staff. "Crystal Harris". TMZ. Time Warner. Retrieved January 11, 2016.
- "Cover". Playboy. July 2011.
- Coughlan, Maggie (January 1, 2013). "Hugh Hefner Marries Crystal Harris". People.
- "Playboy founder Hugh Hefner marries his "runaway bride"". Reuters. January 1, 2013.
- "Hugh Hefner, Crystal Harris Wed at Playboy Mansion". The Hollywood Reporter. December 31, 2012.
- D'Zurilla, Christie (January 2, 2013). "Hugh Hefner, Crystal Harris finally marry on New Year's Eve". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 18, 2013.
- "Keith Hefner Dead: Hugh Hefner's Brother Dies at 87". PEOPLE.com. April 8, 2016. Retrieved September 28, 2017.
- "Washington Post: Playboy Mansion for sale but Hugh Hefner wants to stay put". January 12, 2016. Retrieved January 16, 2016.
- "Hugh Hefner's Playboy Mansion sells for $100 million". Reuters. Retrieved August 17, 2016.
- "Hugh Hefner Crippling Back Infection Started Decline in Health". TMZ. September 29, 2017. Retrieved November 11, 2017.
- Playboy Enterprises, Inc., "Playboy Foundation – Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Awards". Accessed July 12, 2011.
- Hugh Hefner's Federal Campaign Contribution Report Archived December 31, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
- Hefner, Hugh [@hughhefner] (July 30, 2011). "My parents were Republican, I'm a registered Democrat, but these days I'm an Independent, not happy with either Party" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- Hefner, Hugh [@hughhefner] (November 7, 2012). "While I was playing dominoes with the girls, we got the news that Obama had been re-elected. We're celebrating at the Mansion" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- "Hugh Hefner saves iconic Hollywood sign". London, UK: Times Online. April 27, 2010. Retrieved December 26, 2010.
- "The History of the Sign: 1978: A Sign is Reborn". Hollywood Sign. Archived from the original on November 25, 2010. Retrieved December 26, 2010.
- Hefner Gives $2M to USC Film School Associated Press, November 16, 2007.
- "Hugh Hefner & Jenny McCarthy Fund Autism Research". Celebrity Halo. October 2008. Retrieved December 29, 2008.
- 2010 founder's hero of the heart Award (PDF). November 18, 2010. Retrieved May 9, 2015.
- "My True Love Gave To Me ... A Bat Species!". CBS News. February 11, 2009. Retrieved March 30, 2012.
- "Lower Keys Rabbit" (PDF). United States Fish and Wildlife Service. Retrieved March 30, 2012.
- "Playboy founder Hugh Hefner writes passionate plea in support of gay marriage". NYDailyNews.com. August 23, 2012. Retrieved August 23, 2012.
- Mansnerus, Laura (September 27, 2017). "Hugh Hefner, Who Built Playboy Empire and Embodied It, Dies at 91". The New York Times. Retrieved September 28, 2017.
- Schudel, Matt (September 27, 2017). "Hugh Hefner, visionary editor who created Playboy magazine, dies at 91". Washington Post. Retrieved September 28, 2017.
- "Cardiac arrest, infections listed as causes of Hugh Hefner's death". The Los Angeles Times. October 3, 2017. Retrieved October 4, 2017.
- "Hugh Hefner's Cause of Death Revealed". New York Daily News. October 3, 2017. Retrieved October 4, 2017.
- "Hugh Hefner: Drug-Resistant E. Coli Infection Contributed to Death". People. October 3, 2017. Retrieved October 4, 2017.
- Kogan, Rick. "Hugh Hefner, Playboy founder who built his empire in Chicago, dies at age 91". chicagotribune.com.
- Suzanne Moore (September 28, 2017). "I called Hugh Hefner a pimp, he threatened to sue. But that's what he was". The Guardian. Retrieved September 29, 2017.
- Julie Bindel (September 28, 2017). "Hugh Hefner was the ultimate enemy of women – no feminist anywhere will shed a tear at his death". The Independent. Retrieved September 29, 2017.
- 'Hugh Hefner preached sexual liberation, but he never stopped exploiting women's bodies'.
- Ed Stetzer (September 28, 2017). "Hugh Hefner, Mourning, and Legacies: Beyond the Pipe and the Robe". Christianity Today. Retrieved September 29, 2017.
- Drexler, Peggy (September 29, 2017). "Hugh Hefner's legacy has a dark side". CNN. Retrieved September 29, 2017.
- "Jared Leto to star in Hugh Hefner biopic". BBC News. October 3, 2017.
- "Brett Ratner's Hugh Hefner Biopic is Dead in the Water". Screen rant. November 2, 2017.
- Watts, Steven (2008). Mr. Playboy: Hugh Hefner and the American Dream. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-0-470-52167-0.
- Miller, Russell (1985). Bunny: The Real Story of Playboy. London: Henry Holt and Company. ISBN 978-0-03-063748-3.
- St. James, Izabella (2006). Bunny Tales: Behind Closed Doors at the Playboy Mansion – Reprint Edition–2009. Philadelphia: Running Press. ISBN 978-0-7624-3230-1.
- Vile, John R.; Hudson, David L.; Schultz, David Andrew (2009). Encyclopedia of the First Amendment. Washington, D.C.: CQ Press. p. 564. ISBN 978-0-87289-311-5.