Hugh Hefner, founder of Playboy, dies at 91
Hugh Hefner, the man who made sex mainstream in American cultural arena, died of natural causes at his famous Beverly Hills mansion at the age of 91.
The founder of Playboy, the magazine which unleashed a sexual revolution in America, was a strong advocate of freedom of speech, civil rights and sexual freedom.
Hefner launched Playboy in 1953 at a time when the social order was dominated by conservative thought. His flamboyant style and demeanour, which spilled into the pages of Playboy, jangled the nerves of many Americans.
Hollywood icon Marilyn Monroe was the first model to feature in Playboy. The enterprise achieved stunning success as its readership zoomed dramatically reaching over seven million in 1970s.
Controversy surrounding Playboy
Hefner courted controversy when a former Playmate, Holly Madison, in her book, Down the Rabbit Hole: Curious Adventures and Cautionary Tales of a Former Playboy Bunny, opened up about considering suicide inside the Playboy Mansion.
She wrote about facing instances of abuse inside the mansion where Hefner liked to pit Playmates against each other.
‘Changed attitudes towards sex’
‘Playboy’ Hefner brought the curtains down on the nudity on offer in Playboy’s centrefolds in 2015 citing competition from internet.
But Playboy had achieved cult status by then as a media enterprise which promoted the idea of sexual freedom. In a New York Times interview, Hefner said he was proud that he “changed attitudes towards sex and decontaminated the notion of premarital sex”.
An iconoclast, a hedonist
Hefner’s married thrice in his lifetime. His last marriage was with Crystal Harris, a former Playmate. But, Hefner, at 85, said that “he never found his soulmate”.
The man leaves behind a legacy which turned nudity and sex from taboo to something which is acceptable. Hefner was an iconoclast who challenged cultural mores. He was the ultimate hedonist.