Playboy Founder Hugh Hefner Dead at 91

Playboy founder Hugh Hefner passed away on Wednesday at the age of 91. Playboy Enterprises announced the news this evening. He died of natural causes.

In a statement on his father’s passing, Hefner’s son Cooper said the following:

“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.”

Hefner founded the groundbreaking magazine Playboy in 1953 that became the centerpiece of a wide-ranging and provocative media empire. The first issue featured an image of a naked Marilyn Monroe on its cover and hit newsstands in December of that year, selling 54,000 copies. The following issue debuted the iconic Playboy mascot — a silhouette of a bunny in a bow tie.

Over the years, Hefner would find himself both criticized and commended by feminists. He famously got into it with Gloria Steinem on the topic of feminism in the early ’70s. However, Hefner was also a strong supporter of abortion rights and helped was lauded for helping finance the Roe V. Wade lawsuit.

Recently, Playboy has dealt with some hard times and attempted to change things by eliminating nude images in the magazines last year. That decision didn’t last long and the magazine brought back the nude pictorials. On top of that, Hefner sold his Playboy mansion this summer for $100 million with the condition that he be allowed to live the rest of his life there.

[image via screengrab]

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