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Hugh Hefner, Iconic Founder of Playboy Magazine, Dies at 91

Playboy Enterprises Inc said its founder Hugh Hefner has died of natural causes.


Updated:September 28, 2017, 11:00 AM IST
Hugh Hefner, Iconic Founder of Playboy Magazine, Dies at 91
Playboy Magazine founder Hugh Hefner smiles at the news conference at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles on February 10, 2011. (REUTERS/Fred Prouser)
Los Angeles: Hugh Hefner, the silk pajamas-wearing founder of Playboy Magazine who helped steer nudity into the American mainstream died Wednesday, his magazine announced on Twitter. He was 91 years old.

"Life is too short to be living somebody else's dream," read a quote from Hefner, whose trailblazing brand played a major role in the 20th century's shifting attitude towards sexuality.

Hefner, 91, peacefully passed away at his home, Playboy Enterprises said in a statement, adding that he was surrounded by family.

Founding the magazine in 1953, Hefner built a brand that defined the sexual culture of the second half of the 20th century.

Playboy's buxom models were the objects of millions of men's fantasies as Hefner challenged what he derided as America's "Puritanical" attitudes toward sex.

For decades, he was the pipe-smoking, silk-pajama-wearing center of a constant fantasy party at Playboy mansions in Chicago and then in Los Angeles.

Hefner, once called the "prophet of pop hedonism" by Time magazine, was sometimes characterised as an oversexed Peter Pan as he kept a harem of young blondes that numbered as many as seven at his legendary Playboy Mansion.

This was chronicled in The Girls Next Door, a TV reality show that aired from 2005 through 2010. He said that thanks to the impotency-fighting drug Viagra he continued exercising his libido into his 80s.

"I'm never going to grow up," Hefner said in a CNN interview when he was 82. "Staying young is what it is all about for me. Holding on to the boy and long ago I decided that age really didn't matter and as long as the ladies... feel the same way, that's fine with me."

Hefner settled down somewhat in 2012 at age 86 when he took Crystal Harris, who was 60 years younger, as his third wife.

He said his swinging lifestyle might have been a reaction to growing up in a repressed family where affection was rarely exhibited. His so-called stunted childhood led to a multi-million-dollar enterprise that centered on naked women but also espoused Hefner's "Playboy philosophy" based on romance, style and the casting off of mainstream mores.

That philosophy came to life at the legendary parties in his mansions — first in his native Chicago, then in Los Angeles' exclusive Holmby Hills neighborhood — where legions of male celebrities swarmed to mingle with beautiful young women.

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