He was business savvy, knew the intricacies of the challenging world of business on both national and international scales, and was also a champion when it came to ‘women affairs’. Hugh Hefner relaxed the once intense censure surrounding sex and women in the society. He practically invented the word ‘playboy’ which gained more weight with the publication of his nude and sex-themed Playboy magazine managed by his lifestyle company Playboy Enterprises.
Hefner brought about the idea of sexual liberation which with his influence, has been injected into the veins of the present society. For a man who was born in the prohibition era, this is of huge significance. To further dwell on the Hugh Hefner impact on the society, here are the things one ought to know about him.
Early Life and Career
Hugh was born on April 9, 1926, in Chicago Illinois to his parents; Grace Caroline (née Swanson) and Glenn Lucius Hefner. Hefner who came from a conservative and religious family always felt different from the rest of his family due to his liberal stands. He could have been a missionary but for his adamant nature and alien quest. Moreso, being born in the prohibition era when the flexible life was not attainable, Hugh managed to stick his own beliefs to his head until he was old enough to act on it.
As he was always inclined to writing, after his high school at Steinmetz High School, Hugh worked in the US Army as a writer for a military newspaper. He then proceeded to the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign where he got a degree in Psychology as well as in Creative Writing and Art.
He was not going to stop there, he worked briefly as a copywriter for Esquire magazine before establishing his Playboy Magazine which faced a lot of castigations. It was called Stag Party at first before it was then changed to Playboy. Hefner was not going to be deterred by the oppositions, he went ahead to feature Marilyn Munroe using her nude calendar shoot which he rented for $200 in the magazine’s first issue. It grossed more than he expected, selling over 50,000 copies and becoming a big source of encouragement and motivation for Hefner.
Further making clear his stands on sexuality and the liberal life, Hugh featured Charles Beaumont’s gay awareness short story which was rejected by other magazines on Playboy. The story rejected by Esquire magazine sparked controversy when it was featured on Playboy. But for Hefner, the uproar meant more popularity and good business. In 1963, he featured nude photos of actress Jayne Mansfield on an issue of Playboy. With this, he sparked another episode of controversy which saw him arrested for promoting obscene literature. But to his own advantage, the jury in the trial failed to reach a consensus leading to his exoneration.
It is believed that Hefner was never racist and also subscribed to the opinions of the Civil Rights Movement. Reports have it that in the 60s, the Playboy established “private key” clubs which embraced all and sundry regardless of their racial status. He also worked with people from different racial backgrounds, preaching the message of civil rights and liberation. The man’s desire for an inclusive society became apparent when he brought in Dick Gregory, an African-American comedian and activist to perform in his Chicago Playboy club. He also worked with Alex Haley, a black American writer he sent to interview American Neo-Nazi George Rockwell.
Hefner made several appearances as himself in movies and series like Sex and the City (2000), Family Guy (2007), and many others. In 2005, Hefner and producer Kevin Burns collaborated to create the Girls Next Door series also called Girls of the Playboy Mansion which aired on E! channel from 2005 to 2010.
The reality series featured Hefner and his girlfriends Holly Madison, Bridget Marquardt, and Kendra Wilkinson who lived with him in the Playboy Mansion.
What Is His Net Worth?
Hugh Hefner amassed great wealth doing what he loved and preaching what he believed in. His net worth was estimated at $45 million at the time of his death. This excluded the value of his Playboy mansion which will amount to millions of dollars when converted. According to reports, the Playboy mansion was placed on a $200 million auction in 2016.
Making sales of over 6 million copies of Playboy magazine at the peak of his life, Hugh’s net worth climaxed to over $200 million in the 70s. It wasn’t just his magazine, The Playboy empire integrated TV shows, clubs, and various entertainment platforms, creating a fountain of income for its founder. Hefner’s children according to reports, are to inherit their father’s fortune.
Hugh Hefner’s Family: Meet His Wives and Kids
While he swam in the midst of concubines and the ‘good life’, Hefner also deemed it fit to get married. He was first married to Mildred Williams in 1949. However, reports have it that before their wedding, Mildred confessed to cheating on him while he was away in the army. Guilt-ridden Mildred allowed her husband to sleep with other women due to her own infidelity. The couple had two children (Christie and David) before they divorced in 1959.
After the divorce, Hugh was involved with several girlfriends and playmates. In 1986, he married American model and actress Kimberley Conrad who was Playmate of the Year at the time. They had two sons together; Marston Glenn born in 1990 and Cooper Hefner born in 1991. The couple separated in 1998 and Conrad moved out of the playboy mansion.
Hugh dated all kinds of women. Apart from Holly Madison, Bridget Marquardt, and Kendra Wilkinson who were featured on The Girls’ Next Door, Hugh also dated Brande Roderick, twins Sandy and Mandy Bentley, Izabella St. James, Tina Marie Jordan, Shannon Tweed, Donna Michelle, Marilyn Cole, Barbi Benton, Lillian Müller, Karen Christy, Sondra Theodore and tons of others.
Hugh Hefner died of natural causes on September 27, 2017. He died at the age of 91 at his Playboy Mansion, in Holmby Hills, Los Angeles, California. Mr Hugh was laid to rest in the crypt beside Marilyn Monroe, at Westwood Memorial Park in Los Angeles. Hefner had purchased the crypt for $75,000 and requested to be buried there – beside the woman who formed the foundation of his success.