American legend and cultural icon Hugh Hefner died last night at the age of 91.
According to a press release from Playboy Enterprises, Hefner passed away of natural causes in his home.
The founder of Playboy magazine, Hugh Hefner self-published the very first issue, all on his own.
By selling his furniture to get collateral for a loan, and borrowing funds from friends, Hefner got the cash together to release the very first issue of Playboy in 1953.
Marilyn Monroe appeared on the cover and in a centre-fold spread. The magazine was an instant success, starting the cultural empire that is the Playboy brand.
Now, many of us youngins only remember Hugh Hefner through references in TV shows, random cameos, or as “that old guy who lives in a mansion of beautiful women.” Towards the end of Hefner’s life, that was true, but the man was quite a revolutionary.
Fighting for civil rights, free speech, and gay rights, Hefner used his media empire to the benefit of many marginalized communities. Conservative North Americans, of course, hated Hefner and his “sinful” way of life, not that it really stopped him.
Playboy magazine has also distinguished itself from other like titles for the quality of its articles. Esteemed writers like Margaret Atwood, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Kurt Vonnegut have written in the pages of Playboy.
Today the Playboy brand is internationally recognized, with the magazine published in over 20 countries. The company rakes in more than $1 billion in annual sales.