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Playboy founder Hugh Hefner dies aged 91

Mr. Playboy Hugh Hefner dies aged 91 with debatable legacy - sexual liberator or exploiter?

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Playboy founder Hugh Hefner dies aged 91

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The perpetually pyjama-wearing founder of the Playboy brand Hugh Hefner has died aged 91.

He died from natural causes at his Playboy Mansion in Chicago, which since his arrival there with the second of his three wives had become a hub for his pornography and entertainment empire.



The comments show the division over his legacy

He most famously founded Playboy magazine in 1953, with nude Marylin Munroe pictures in the first December issue, which sold over 50,000 copies. In a sign of Playboy’s pretentions to also be a chronicler of the times, there were interviews from the early sixties, the first being with Miles Davis by a certain Alex Haley, the author of “Roots”. While many feminists see Hefner’s cultural influence as an unmitigated disaster, it is not the same for some voices in the African American community.

Circulation grew to 200,000 by the end of the first year, and by the start of the 1970s Playboy shifted north of seven million copies a month.

The magazine has suffered in the internet age as its business model has been undermined by free online porn.


In its heyday the magazine also featured debut works from writers like Ray Bradbury, Margaret Atwood or Ian Fleming. It also interviewed a who’s who of the greatest celebrities of the age, from Sinatra to Lennon, Castro to Carter.


Branding and franchising made the Bunny motif ubiquitous on everything from mugs to clubs to naughty knickers and it all made Hefner rich. At the time of his death the Playboy brand claimed annual sales of one billion dollars.



Hefner’s last tweet. Not a great tweeter in 2017, but there were more in September than any other month, all making similar appeals.

He leaves his wife Crystal, a former Playmate, and four adult children.