Playboy Magazine founder Hugh Hefner passed away at the age of 91 due to natural causes. He was surrounded by his loved ones at the time of his departure.
In a statement provided to Salute, his son and Chief Creative Officer of Playboy Enterprises Cooper spoke of his father’s contributions to the world-at-large.
“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. He will be greatly missed by many, including his wife Crystal, my sister Christie and my brothers David and Marston and all of us at Playboy Enterprises,” said Cooper Hefner.
Lavish and decadent parties that took place at the Playboy Mansion are of pop culture legend as is the opportunity for any shooting star to conduct their “Playboy Interview.”
It’s hard to believe that such an impactful organization was founded with less than $2,000 from a kitchen table.
When Playboy covers are thought of, visions of blonde bombshells decorate the mental landscape.
In April of 2009, comedian Seth Rogen came through with a interview that was beyond priceless.
At the time he was only the ninth man to hit the cover and as his standards found a way to poke fun at the trend he hoped to start with his appearance.
“Woody Allen created a look for small, nebbishy Jews, and I’m doing the same for chubby Jewish guys,” Rogan stated. “I created a new look for rotund Jews. I have seen more guys lately who kind of look like me. It’s an easily attainable look.”
Since then, Rogan has continued to find runaway success in just about every project that he touches. Play on playa.
The November 1972 issue still reigns supreme as the best selling effort in the magazine’s legendary run.
Standing tall with with 7,161,561, magazines sold, this issue hit the stands at a time when the brand’s lifestyle was as American as apple pie.
Playboy Clubs were the place to see and be seen, so the residual impact of excellent sales simply made sense.
Legend also has it that centerfold Lena Söderberg saw her pictorial used as test pages for a term paper being assembled by the University of Southern California Signal and Image Processing Institute.
The end result ended up being that since the images contained a mixture of detail, colour, shading, focus, textures, reflections and flat regions that allow testing of multiple algorithms, Söderberg literally in a manner of speaking donated her body to science.
Comedian/starlet Jenny McCarthy shared her pain on her XM radio show after hearing of Hefner’s death.
“He’d always say, ‘Thanks for sharing the dream, Jen.’ And when I thought about him passing last night, I just thought, I wanted one more chance to say thanks,” McCarthy said on The Jenny McCarthy Show, holding back tears.
‘Thank you for sharing your dream with me and for giving so many girls and so many people the opportunity of a lifetime.”
“I will always miss you Hef,” she said, calling him by his nickname. “You will never be forgotten.”
After appearing on multiple covers, this one from 2005 is etched in time as the classic one as it showcases both the brand’s imagery and McCarthy’s playful side.
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That is exactly what went down in June of 1965 when Ursula Andress lept out of the magazine’s pages.
The 12-page pictorial was considered by many to be shocking at the time as the mainstream was clearly still coming to terms with it’s stars outwardly pushing the envelope.
Shot in the Philippines by the legendary John Derek, Andress quipped at the time that while she was selective about sharing her skin, she was all for it if done correctly.
“I’m not against nudity when it is used for a purpose and is done with a maximum of taste, style and class,” Andress told Playboy for the interview that stood alongside her photos.
In 2017, a topless photo shoot wouldn’t even register on the radar but this issue was extremely trendsetting.
Playboy’s 60th Anniversary issue was no joke. And the powers that be did it right when they selected Kate Moss as the lead bunny for the consummate issue that celebrated their history.
Editorial Director Jimmy Jellinek told E! that Moss was the obvious choice
“Playboy‘s anniversary edition is a testament to 60 years of beautiful women, discerning taste, sexual emancipation, groundbreaking fiction and world-changing journalism,” said Jellinek. “Having Kate Moss, a global icon and the most important supermodel of the past 25 years, appear on our cover makes this issue the perfect way to launch Playboy‘s next 60 years.”
History reflects more on the epic party that accompanied the issue but with contents such as singer Tom Jones interviewing Moss, this issue was just as big as the hedonism that it inspired.
This list would not be complete without featuring a cover that celebrated the Playmate of the Year honors.
Donna Michelle was a popular actress in the 1960’s who used her natural beauty nna Ncand charm to put her into a a variety of envious positions.
As the 1964 Playmate of the Year, she held the title with grace and as a badge of honor.
With a acting resume that included the infamous Beach Blanket Bingo and the crime series The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Donna Michelle was one of the first bunnies to completely embrace the opportunities afforded to her by her association with Playboy.
Anna Nicole Smith is among the most tragic figures in American history. Her rise to stardom is directly attributable to Playboy as she told CNN’s Larry King during a interview in 2002.
“OK. There was an ad in the paper for “Playboys” playmates, and I went to the ad and took some pictures. And “Playboy” called me and flew me to Los Angeles, and I was on the March cover of 1992, and that’s the cover that (Guess Jeans’) Paul Marciano saw.”
The sultry sadness that Smith brought to her life and the pages of the publication will never be forgotten.
This one from 1993 celebrated a victory for her at a time when she was coming off a turbulent upbringing in Texas.
Hugh Hefner never shied away from embracing the beauty of all women. In 1971, the backlash from the Civil Rights movement was still in effect.
Yet that did not stop Hefner from making Darine Stern Playboy’s first solo African-American playmate to appear on its cover.
Stern’s appearance was preceded by other African -American models who previously appeared in the publication and of course the written work of Alex Haley who conducted benchmark interviews with figure such as Martin Luther King Jr.
As for Stern, she used the exposure to become a high profile model. Although she died of breast cancer in 1994, her legacy lives on forever.
Lets be honest for a moment about a few things. Yes, Playboy broke a lot of ground for a lot of people in a lot of ways that may be forgotten about from time-to-time.
In the wake of Hefner’s death, it may tacky to flip it this way so soon but the reality is it must be remembered that Playboy for all of its elegance and class was America’s number one skin book for most of its history.
The January 1972 issue was the first book to feature full frontal nudity in its centerfold setting the stage for a lot of happy days to come.
Before the internet, the only way to see a favored star ass out was Playboy and it was this issue that really got the party started.
Marilyn Monroe helped Playboy kick in the door with their very first issue. Fearless, seductive and true-to-herself, there is not much that can be said about her that has not already been said a trillion times over.
In 2017, whether they realize it or not, today’s pop idols are still trying to reach the heights that she reached both in life and death.
Yes there are some semi-obvious covers that were omitted featuring the likes of Kim Kardashian, Pamela Anderson and others.
But with a rich history that dates back to 1953, its impossible to put together a piece that would have satisfied the world.
In the meantime, celebrate the life of Hugh Hefner in the video below.
Watch: Celebrating Hugh Hefner