Hugh Hefner was the founder of Playboy Enterprises, an adult magazine publishing company in the United States. With the advent of the ‘Playboy’ magazine, he is recognized with revolutionizing the adult entertainment sector, and he later expanded his business to encompass television and internet businesses. He had no clue how popular the magazine would become when he published the first issue in 1953, which featured Marilyn Monroe. ‘Playboy’ was an instant hit, with more than 50,000 copies sold in the inaugural issue, catapulting both the magazine and its founder to fame. Hefner worked as a journalist for ‘Esquire’ before launching the wildly successful but equally infamous magazine. He also served in World War II. He was born into a conservative Chicago household and went on to college to study psychology, creative writing, and art before starting a career as a writer. However, after being denied a raise, he quit his job and went on to start the adult magazine that would revolutionize the entertainment industry. Hefner, unsurprisingly, exemplifies the lifestyle espoused by his magazine and has been linked to a number of sultry models. But his life was not all about sex; he was a well-known political leader and philanthropist who generously donated to a variety of organizations.
Childhood and Adolescence
Hugh Hefner, the elder of Grace and Glenn Hefner’s two sons, was born on April 9, 1926, in Chicago, Illinois. His parents, both educators, were devout Methodists with deep roots in the Midwest. In Chicago, he attended Sayre Elementary School and later Steinmetz High School. While in high school, he had an early interest in writing and started a school newspaper, as well as serving as president of the student council, where he advocated for student interests.
He served in the United States Army for two years at the close of WWII before being discharged in 1946. He used to work for a military publication. He studied art at the Chicago Art Institute after the war before enrolling at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, where he earned a B.A. in psychology with a double minor in creative writing and art in 1949.
Career of Hugh
He worked as an assistant personnel manager for the Chicago Carton Company in 1949 and as an advertising copywriter for the Carson Pirie Scott department store before landing a job as a promotion copywriter for the magazine ‘Esquire,’ a publication for men that featured articles on topics such as men’s fashion and illustrations from pinup artists such as George Petty and Alberto Vargas. He stayed there until 1952, when he was denied a $5 raise. He mortgaged his furniture and raised capital from investors in order to begin his own publication, ‘Playboy.’
The magazine’s debut edition came out in December of 1953. It included a naked portrait of Marilyn Monroe, the famed sex symbol, from a 1949 calendar session. The journal was an instant hit, selling over 50,000 copies in its first year.
He began recruiting additional individuals to help him make the magazine more appealing to the readership and promote it, and he was ecstatic with the results. ‘Playboy’ had unprecedented success, selling over a million copies per month by the end of the decade. Hefner, inspired by his company’s extraordinary development, organized the first Playboy Jazz Festival at Chicago Stadium, which became renowned as the greatest single weekend in jazz history.
Hugh Hefner’s name had become synonymous with the “Good Life” that so many Americans desired by the 1960s—not only was he extremely wealthy, but he was also always surrounded by gorgeous and sexy young models. He expanded his business by buying the Playboy Mansion at 1340 North State Parkway and establishing the first Playboy Club. He also published multiple essays that exemplified “The Playboy Philosophy” and questioned America’s Puritan repressive history. It didn’t take long for ‘Playboy’ to become the world’s best-selling men’s magazine, thanks to its sensual graphics and engaging writing. ‘Playboy’s Penthouse’ (1959–60) and ‘Playboy After Dark’ (1969–70) were two short-lived television series Hefner hosted in the 1960s.
In the 1970s, Playboy Enterprises’ business soared to unprecedented heights, with the magazine selling more than seven million copies every month. There were also more than 900,000 members in 23 Playboy Clubs, resorts, hotels, and casinos across the world. ‘Third Girl From The Left,’ ‘The Death of Ocean View Park,’ ‘The Cop and the Kid,’ and ‘A Whale For The Killing’ were among the popular television movies made by the firm, which also controlled a record label and a television and motion picture company.
Hugh Hefner’s health declined in the 1980s as a result of the pressures of operating such a massively popular magazine, the stress of wild partying, and the continual strain of being in the spotlight, and he suffered a stroke, prompting him to change his lifestyle. He gave his daughter Christie management of Playboy Enterprises and began focused more on charity endeavors.
Major Projects of Hugh
Hugh Hefner is most known for founding Playboy Enterprises, Inc., which is responsible for the ‘Playboy’ magazine empire as well as other business enterprises. The Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles, California, is likewise owned and operated by the business. The ‘Playboy’ was a key figure in America’s sexual revolution and is still one of the most well-known brands in the world.
Philanthropic Contributions for Cinema
Hugh Hefner is interested in a number of charitable causes. He personally contributed $27,000 to the fund-raising activities that resulted to the restoration of the Hollywood Sign in 1978. He gave $100,000 to the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts to start a “Censorship in Cinema” course and $2 million to endow a chair for the study of American film. He is also an animal enthusiast who has helped to arrange fundraisers for both Much Love Animal Rescue and Generation Rescue. He also gave $900,000 to a conservation group in 2010 to help them buy land to prevent the building of the famous Hollywood Sign view.
Achievements & Awards
In 1998, he was inducted into the American Society of Magazine Editors Hall of Fame. In 2002, he received the Henry Johnson Fisher Award, the Magazine Publishers of America’s highest accolade. In 2010, Dr. Lois Lee, the Children of the Night’s founder and president, honored Hefner with the organization’s first-ever Founder’s Hero of the Heart Award in recognition of his unrelenting passion, commitment, and generosity.
Personal History and Legacy
Hugh Hefner married Mildred Williams in 1949, and they had two children: Christie, a girl, and David, a son. In 1959, the couple divorced. In 1989, he married Playmate of the Year Kimberley Conrad for the second time. From this marriage, he has two sons. In 1998, the couple split up and divorced in 2010. On December 31, 2012, Hefner married model Crystal Harris; at the time of their highly publicized wedding, Hefner was 86 and Harris was 26.
In addition to the ladies he married, he had affairs with a number of other women, the majority of whom were ‘Playboy’ models. Barbi Benton, Brande Roderick, Holly Madison, and Kendra Wilkinson were some of his well-known mistresses. He flirted with bisexuality as well. Hugh Hefner died on September 27, 2017, at his Playboy Mansion, of natural causes.
Estimated Net Worth
Hugh Hefner, the founder of Playboy magazine, was an American entrepreneur with a net worth of $50 million at the time of his death in September 2017.