Publisher of Playboy, the iconic international adult magazine, Hugh Hefner, has died at the age of 91.
Playboy Enterprises Inc said he passed away peacefully at home in Los Angeles on Wednesday, from natural causes.
— Playboy (@Playboy) September 28, 2017
“Hugh M. Hefner, the American icon who in 1953 introduced the world to Playboy magazine and built the company into one of the most recognizable American global brands in history, peacefully passed away today from natural causes at his home, The Playboy Mansion, surrounded by loved ones,” Playboy confirmed in a statement. “He was 91 years old.”
Hefner began publishing Playboy in his kitchen in 1953. It became the largest-selling men’s magazine in the world, shifting seven million copies a month at its peak.
Cooper Hefner, his son, said he would be “greatly missed by many”.
He paid tribute to his father’s “exceptional and impactful life as a media and cultural pioneer,” and called him an advocate for free speech, civil rights and sexual freedom.
Hefner’s trailblazing magazine helped make nudity respectable in mainstream publications, despite emerging at a time when US states could legally ban contraceptives.
It also made him a multi-millionaire, spawning a business empire that included casinos and nightclubs.
The first edition featured a set of nude photographs of Marilyn Monroe that Hefner had bought for $200. They had originally been shot for a 1949 calendar.
The silk pyjama-clad mogul became famous for his hedonism, dating and marrying Playboy models. In his later years, he threw decadent parties at the luxurious Playboy mansion in Los Angeles.
Beyond featuring nude women, the magazine also interviewed civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr, Beatle John Lennon, and Cuban revolutionary Fidel Castro.