On Wednesday, September 27th, Hugh Hefner (aged 91) passed away of natural causes at the Playboy Mansion. The announcement was made by the Playboy Mansion officials, and his passing leaves behind a legacy in adult entertainment.
Despite how some might feel about the nature of his work, Hugh Hefner was a pioneer in a lot of different ways, including LGBTQ rights, Civil Rights, and protecting the First Amendment. Hugh believed that freedom of speech and thought was an important part of the American dream.
Here are 16 facts about Hugh Hefner you might not have known that take a look back at his career, his life, and the empire of adult entertainment that he created:
1. Hugh Hefner Once Worked for Esquire Magazine. His work there included being a copywriter, and apparently, when Hugh was refused a $5.00 raise on his paycheck, he immediately quit the magazine to start his own venture.
2. Shortly after leaving Esquire, Hugh filed for a Mortgage, which gave him $600, and received over $8,000 from 45 different investors, including $1,000 from his own Mother, who, although he didn’t condone his plan, had faith in him to succeed in his business.
3. In the early 90s, Hugh bought a burial plot next to Marilyn Monroe in Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery, where he is scheduled to be buried following his memorial service.
4. During WWII, Hugh served as a writer for a military magazine.
5. His first issue of Playboy sold over 50,000 copies and featured a nude Marilyn Monroe on the front cover.
6. Hefner was an early advocate for LGBTQ rights back in the 1950s when they published “The Crooked Man,” a story about a dystopian future where heterosexuality is persecuted in a homosexual-dominant society. When criticized about the story, Hefner said, “If it was wrong to persecute heterosexuals in a homosexual society, then the reverse was wrong, too.”
7. Also a Civil Rights advocate, in a bold move in the 1960s, Hefner sent black author Alex Haley to interview what most call the “American Hitler” and leader of the American Nazi Party, George Rockwell. Haley would also be asked to interview Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. to feature stories in Playboy.
8. Hugh Hefner once experimented with bisexuality. In the late 60s, discrimination started taking a backseat during the sexual revolution, and by the 1970s, people were more open to acceptance, even if there were taboos still in existence.
9. In the late 70s, Hefner helped organize a fundraiser that helped restore the Hollywood Sign. The sign was under a great deal of disrepair, and its restoration helped push Hollywood into a brighter future.
10. In 2010, Hefner donated a whopping $900,000 needed by a local conservation group to help protect an endangered species of rabbit, which is now named after him, the Sylvilagus Palustris Hefneri.
11. In his later years, Hefner reportedly used so much Viagra to treat erectile dysfunction that a side effect of the drug caused him to lose his hearing.
12. In the mid-1980s, Hefner suffered a major stroke that left him temporarily paralyzed and unable to speak. He managed to make a miraculous full recovery and vowed to live a healthier lifestyle after this occurred.
13. Hefner was once arrested for publishing and promoting obscene literature but was later released due to a deadlocked jury. It’s crazy to think how close Hugh Hefner was to being convicted of this when, nowadays, it can be found literally anywhere on the internet.
14. Among his many various partners over the years, Hugh kept company with 5 different women and was married to 3 other women. Mildred Williams from 1949 – 1959, Kimberly Conrad from 1989 – 2010, and finally Crystal Harris in 2012, who is now widowed from Hugh in 2017.
15. Hefner admitted to sleeping with upwards of 1,000 women in his lifetime. He claimed that during his marriages, he was faithful, but when he wasn’t married anymore, he made up for it.
16. Hugh Hefner holds the Guinness world record for the longest-running editor-in-chief for a published magazine.
The magazine Playboy was founded in 1953, and in the early 1960s, it was a great success, and it kept opening clubs with the same name around the world. The famous brand also moved to TV, and in the 1970s, the magazine had 5.6 million copies a month in circulation. The logo was stamped on clothes, cocktail glasses, car gadgets, and more. But how did the Playboy magazine get its name?
Few people know the interesting fact that Playboy magazine was named after a car company. That car company only functioned briefly, but at least its name lasted with the help of the super-popular magazine. Even though Hugh Hefner was not known as a passionate automotive enthusiast, he always had over-the-top cars.
According to the story, it is less known that the well-known empire was inspired by an inoperative automaker carrying the same name.
The Playboy Automobile Company was established in Buffalo, New York 1947. The business managed to stay afloat until 1951. Soon after that, in 1953, Playboy Magazine was founded. Apparently, one of the employees of the Playboy Automobile Company suggested calling the new magazine Playboy. Very similar to the auto manufacturer after which it received its name, the magazine focused on an audience dominated by men. The lifestyle brand for men was not just related to beautiful women but also to cars. Both of these were integral parts of the Playboy personality.
It is a known fact that Playboy has been ranked as one of the most recognizable magazines in the world. Unfortunately, it made a public announcement that it would stop printing the US periodical, and the spring issue of 2020 would be its last one. According to the statement made by Ben Kohn, the CEO of Playboy Enterprises, such a decision had been discussed for a certain period, and it was sped up with the occurrence of the coronavirus. They have decided to transfer to digital publishing since its printed form was no longer circulated or wanted as before. Their plans for 2021 were to make print offerings in different new forms, such as timely collections, special editions, partnerships with provocative creators, and similar.
The peak of Playboy Magazine occurred in the 1970s, with millions of copies sold. However, the actual decline started in the 1980s and gradually continued over the years. In the 1980s, they began closing down their famous Playboy clubs, and by 1986, they were all shut down completely.
In the meantime, perceptions had shifted, but Playboy didn’t fight against gender norms but remained faithful to the idea of female employees being degraded. Then, during the 90s, Playboy had tough competition on the market with magazines such as FHM Magazine, Maxim, and Stuff.
Even though the internet showed potential for their business, Playboy magazines were slow to transfer to online content. The magazine experienced its most significant decline in the 2000s when it tried to stay relevant with some good ideas online in 2004 but without much success.