Legendary publishing icon Hugh Hefner has passed away at the age of 91. The Playboy founder started the magazine 60 years ago as a “niche upscale men’s magazine” according to NBC News, but soon transformed it into a massive adult entertainment empire that stood on both sides of the spectrum in many eyes.
The late founder’s son and current Playboy Enterprises CCO, Cooper Hefner, released a statement on the passing and his father’s iconic legacy:
“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…
“He defined a lifestyle and ethos that lie at the heart of the Playboy brand, one of the most recognizable and enduring in history.”
People added that Hefner reportedly died of natural causes in his home at The Playboy Mansion while surrounded with friends and family.
While the famous mansion had sold in June for $200 million to Hefner’s neighbor, the late Playboy founder was allowed to live there until his passing. The locale took on a life of its own over the years, almost becoming as synonymous with the brand as Hef and the Playboy logo thanks to lavish parties, celebrity guests, and its stint as a reality television set. Hefner and many others brought a lot of history to it since its purchase back in 1971.
It is undeniable that Hefner leaves behind a legacy that is both influential and controversial. Playboy has been treated as classy over the years and it has been treated like pornography, but its success helped it grow beyond behind just a magazine. It now helps to define an era in a way, one worth reflecting on for its triumphs and its problems, and Hefner is part of that reflection. He found himself a place in the story, donned a robe, and lived the lifestyle until the end. Rest in peace.