Hugh Hefner, who built Playboy into a multimillion-dollar adult magazine and entertainment empire tied to a Lothario lifestyle of lavish parties and beautiful women, died Wednesday at his home, the iconic Playboy Mansion in Hollywood, Playboy Enterprises Inc. said. He was 91.
Hefner’s magazine brought female nudity out of bachelor parties and into living rooms, and it played a leading role in the sexual revolution of the 1960s. His tinseled soirées at his exclusive Los Angeles pad became the stuff of legend, filled with celebrity friends and scantily clad models. Hefner often worked the room in a red smoking jacket with a pipe hanging from his mouth.
“In my wildest dreams, I could not have imagined a sweeter life,” he told The Hollywood Reporter in 2011.
Hefner, known to almost everyone as “Hef,” is survived by his wife, Crystal, and four grown children: Christie, who was chief executive of Playboy Enterprises for more than 20 years; David; Marston; and Cooper. Memorial plans weren’t immediately available, Playboy said.
Cooper Hefner, chief creative officer of Playboy Enterprises, said Wednesday night: “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,” the younger Hefner said.
Hugh Marston Hefner was born in Chicago, the son of two city schoolteachers. He joined the Army as an infantry clerk after high school and went on to become a copywriter for Esquire magazine.