Veteran US producer and publisher, Hugh Hefner, best known for his Playboy empire, has died aged 91.
He died at his home of natural causes on Wednesday night local time surrounded by family, according to reports.
Founding Playboy magazine in 1953 with a naked Marilyn Monroe, he built a brand that defined the sexual culture of the second half of the 20th century. Playboy’s buxom models, known as bunnies, were the subjects of millions of men’s fantasies as Hefner challenged what he derided as America’s “puritanical” attitudes toward sex.
For decades, he was the pipe-smoking, silk-pyjama-wearing centre at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles, famous for lavish parties attended by celebrities and his magazine models.
Playboy Enterprises grew to include television shows, jazz festivals, book publishing and an international chain of Playboy clubs, where bunnies, wore revealing satin outfits with fluffy white tails.
He previously granted full access to documentary filmmaker and television producer Kevin Burns for Hugh Hefner: American Playboy in 1996. They later collaborated on other television projects, most notably on 2005’s Girls of the Playboy Mansion which ran for 6 seasons. He also made numerous TV appearances as himself, including a guest role in the 1993 The Simpsons episode “Krusty Gets Kancelled.” He also produced a number of telemovies, mostly in the 1970s.
“I’m living a grown-up version of a boy’s dream, turning life into a celebration,” he told Time magazine in 1967. “It’s all over too quickly. Life should be more than a vale of tears.”
Hefner was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on his 54th birthday.