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Hugh Hefner, Playboy founder, dead at 91

Hugh Hefner, the founding fathers of Playboy magazine, died Wednesday at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles, surrounded by loved ones, the publication said in a statement.

He was 91. He expired of from natural causes, the statement read.

With a bon vivant logic, urbane sophistication and sheer marketing brightnes, Hefner was an icon for the sexual revolution of the 1960 s, the man-about-town personification of the lifestyle he promoted with gusto and a sly wink to readers.

Asked by the New York Times in 1992 of what he was proudest, Hefner answered: “That I changed attitudes of sexuality. That nice people can live together now. That I decontaminated the idea of having premarital sex. That gives me great satisfaction.”

When he turned 85, he cheerfully detected, “You’re as young as the girl you feel.”

After a round of celebrity cheating by Tiger Woods and Jesse James was disclosed, Hefner summed up his own attitude: “I had a lot of girlfriends, but it’s not the same as cheating. I don’t defraud. I am very open about what I do . … I think that when you are in a relationship, you should be honest. The real sin of infidelity is the lying.”

The man known to millions simply as “Hef” was born April 9, 1926, in Chicago, the elder of two sons.

His parents were strict Methodists and Hefner went to Chicago academies before joining the Army, were represented at the Chicago Art Institute and graduating from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana with a degree in psychology.

“Part of the reason that I am who I am is my Puritan roots pass deep, ” he told the Associated Press in 2011. “My folks are Puritan. My tribes are prohibitionists. There was no booze in my house. No discussions among sex. And I think I ascertained the hurtful and hypocritical back of that from very early on. “

After working first as a copywriter for “Esquire”- where he had allegedly left because he didn’t get a$ 5 raise- Hefner decided to start his own publication and he raised $8,000 from 45 investors to launch “Playboy” in December 1953.( He had originally planned to call it “Stag Night, ” but was forced to change the call to avoid mark infringement .)

It was produced in his kitchen and carried no date because he wasn’t sure there would be a second issue.

But with the trademark insight and shrewdness that seemed to always ensure his success, Hefner had acquired a nude photo of Marilyn Monroe for the centerfold, taken before the start of her film career.

The magazine sold 50,000 transcripts, inducing it an immediate success.( Hefner afterward bought the crypt next to Monroe’s in a Los Angeles graveyard .)

An empire was launched, with Hefner- who divorced first spouse Mildred Williams in 1959- as its charismatic, cosmopolitan head.

Often pictured in pajamas- or a silk smoking jacket – and inhaling a tube, Hefner personally promoted the Playboy philosophy as the publication became an amalgam of nude photographs of gorgeous women and intellectual author.( “I just speak Playboy for the articles, ” was a standard, if joking, line at the time .)

“If you had to sum up the idea of Playboy, it is anti-Puritanism, ” he was quoted as saying as the country’s humor became more hedonistic.

“Not just in regard to sexuality but the whole range of play and pleasure.”

In addition to the publication, there were Playboy associations, with “bunny” waitresses, two short-lived tv series and a host of other Playboy Enterprises programmes. In 2011 a new television see based on the Playboy Club was launched.

In 1975, Hefner moved to Los Angeles and in 1985, he suffered a minor stroke.

In 1989, he wedded longtime girlfriend Kimberly Conrad and for a while became a family man with two young sons before the couple separated in 1998.

“My father lived an extraordinary and impactful life as a media and cultural rights innovator and a leading voice behind some of the most significant social and cultural the two movements of our time in preaching free speech, civil and sexual freedom, ” Cooper Hefner, Hefner’s son and director creative officer at Playboy Enterprises, said in a statement.

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