Hugh Hefner, the founder and original editor of Playboy, which plopped the post-war sexual revolution onto countless coffee tables around the world, died of natural causes Wednesday. He was 91. Playboy confirmed their founder’s death.
“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,” Cooper Hefner, Playboy Enterprises’ chief creative officer and Hugh’s son, said in the statement.
“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 leading men’s magazine of its age, Playboy helped bring explicit photography, embodied by its famous nude centerfolds, into the mainstream. Its iconic logo – a bunny sporting a bow tie – would eventually be emblazoned on nightclubs, a record company and TV series. And with his trademark smoking jackets and pipes – and the silk pajamas he would often wear to work – Hefner became the embodiment of a sexually adventurous yet urbane image and lifestyle, a seeming role model for generations of men.
Hefner wouldn’t have been the first person anyone would have expected to launch such an empire. Born in Chicago on April 9th, 1926, he was the son of Methodists, served as a noncombatant in World War II, earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology at the University of Illinois and didn’t lose his virginity until he was 22.
His career, however, was foreshadowed by two events: In high school he published his own comic, “School Daze,” and after college, he studied the sex-research work of Alfred Kinsey,…