Play­boy founder Hefner dies

Hugh Hefner, 91, was leg­endary mag­a­zine pub­lisher

Pawtucket Times - - FRONT PAGE -

LOS AN­GE­LES (AP) — Hugh Hefner turned silk pa­ja­mas into a work uni­form, women into cen­ter­folds and sex­ual de­sire into a world­wide mul­ti­me­dia em­pire that spanned sev­eral gen­er­a­tions of Amer­i­can life.

With Play­boy, he helped slip sex out of the con­fines of plain brown wrap­pers and into main­stream con­ver­sa­tion.

In 1953, a time when states could legally ban con­tra­cep­tives and the word "preg­nant" was not al­lowed on "I Love Lucy," Hefner pub­lished the first is­sue of Play­boy, fea­tur­ing naked pho­tos of Mar­i­lyn Mon­roe and an ed­i­to­rial prom­ise of "hu­mor, so­phis­ti­ca­tion and spice."

The Great De­pres­sion and World War II were over and Play­boy soon be­came for­bid­den fruit for teens and a bi­ble for men with time and money, primed for the mag­a­zine's pre­scribed evenings of dimmed lights, hard drinks, soft jazz, deep thoughts and deeper de­sires. Within a year, cir­cu­la­tion neared 200,000. Within five years, it had topped 1 mil­lion.

Hefner, the pipe-smok­ing em­bod­i­ment of the life­style he touted, died at his home of nat­u­ral causes on Wed­nes­day night, Play­boy said in a state­ment. He was 91.

Hefner and Play­boy were brand names world­wide. Asked by The New York Times in 1992 of what he was proud­est, Hefner re­sponded: "That I changed at­ti­tudes to­ward sex. That nice peo­ple can live to­gether now. That I de­con­tam­i­nated the no­tion of pre­mar­i­tal sex. That gives me great sat­is­fac­tion."

By the 1970s, Play­boy mag­a­zine had more than 7 mil­lion read­ers and had in­spired raunchier im­i­ta­tions such as Pen­t­house and Hustler. Com­pe­ti­tion and the in­ter­net re­duced cir­cu­la­tion to less than 3 mil­lion by the 21st cen­tury, and the num­ber of is­sues pub­lished an­nu­ally was cut from 12 to 11. In 2015, Play­boy ceased pub­lish­ing im­ages of naked women, cit­ing the pro­lif­er­a­tion of nu­dity on the in­ter­net, but re­stored its tra­di­tional nu­dity ear­lier this year.

Hefner was an on­go­ing ad­ver­tise­ment for his own prod­uct, the pipe-smok­ing, silk-pa­jama-wear­ing cen­ter of an A-list, X-rated party. By his own ac­count, Hefner had sex with more than a thou­sand women, in­clud­ing many pic­tured in his mag­a­zine. One of rock 'n' roll's most deca­dent tours, the Rolling Stones shows of 1972 fea­tured a stop at the Hefner man­sion.

Through­out the 1960s, Hefner left Chicago only a few times. In the early 1970s, he bought the sec­ond man­sion in Los An­ge­les, fly­ing be­tween his homes on a pri­vate DC-9 dubbed "The Big Bunny," which boasted a gi­ant Play­boy bunny em­bla­zoned on the tail.

Luke Ford

Hugh Hefner in 2007.

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