Los Angeles: Hugh Hefner, the founder of the iconic Playboy magazine has died, Playboy Enterprises announced.
He was 91.
A statement from the company read that Hefner died from natural causes surrounded by kith and kin at his home, The Playboy Mansion, reported ABC News.
“Hugh M Hefner, the American icon who in 1953 introduced the world to Playboy magazine and built the company into one of the most recognisable American global brands in history, peacefully passed away today from natural causes at his home, The Playboy Mansion, surrounded by loved ones. He was 91 years old,” the statement read.
Hefner’s son Cooper also issued a statement in which he traced back his father’s journey into spearheading a sexual revolution, along with freedom of expression in the US.
“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.”
“He defined a lifestyle and ethos that lie at the heart of the Playboy brand, one of the most recognisable and enduring in history. He will be greatly missed by many…” Cooper, 26, said of his father.
Hailing from Chicago, Hefner was born to Glenn and Grace Hefner on April 9, 1926.
After graduating from high school, he served as a writer for a military newspaper in the US Army from 1944-1946 during World War II. He enrolled in University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign and got his degree of BA in Psychology in 1949.
Hefner founded Playboy with the aim to create a niche and upscale magazine for men – which offered a spread of images of nude women, along with detailed write-ups, interviews and fiction by many a well-known writers.
The magazine came to be recongnised by its logo of the bunny face with a bow tie.
According to reports, he started the magazine with USD 600 and another USD 1,000 that he borrowed from his mother.
In its first year, Hollywood icon Marilyn Monroe featured as a Playmate on the first centrefold of the monthly magazine, which was a special feature.
In 2015, Playboy stopped publishing photographs of naked women, citing the proliferation of nudity on the internet.
Hefner also hosted a TV show “Playboy After Dark” and opened a number of nightclubs in 1960, where waitresses wore risque dresses with bunny ears and fluffy white cottontails.
He even hosted reality TV show “The Girls Next Door” with three live-in girlfriends in The Playboy mansion.
The Playboy magazine also gave its tributes to ‘Hef’ (Hefner’s nickname) on their official Twitter handle.
“American Icon and Playboy Founder, Hugh M Hefner passed away today. He was 91. #RIPHef,” the post read.
It also shared his photograph embossed with his famous quote, “Life is too short to be living someone else’s dream”.
Hefner is survived by his wife Crystal and other three children – Christie, 64, David, 62 and Marston, 27.