The man synonymous to the iconic magazine Playboy passed away on 27th September 2017. Hugh Hefner was 91. The death occurred in the Playboy Mansion located in Holmby Hills, Los Angeles. The man who became a progressive icon in an era of repression was born on April 9, 1926, to Glenn and Grace Hefner. Hefner had long said that living “with a lot of repressions,” his parents were Methodists born in Nebraska, set his path in life. He even claimed that he was a descendant of William Bradford from his father’s side. William Bradford was the governor of the Puritan Plymouth Colony.
This part of Hugh Marston Hefner story is known by few. What people do know is the media and entertainment mammoth that he built with his hands. It started as a simple magazine to celebrate sexuality but soon transformed into an enterprise. The centerfold was just an iota of Hefner’s creation, later on. The umbrella company had branches that covered digital productions, cable, movies, apparel, jewelry and even clubs, casinos and resorts. If there was a way to market the famous bunny ear icon, Hefner found a way to do it.
Though many, many other publishers tried their take to the nude Playmate centerfold, none of them were as successful. Even when the fold was given a sugary coat instead of the daring attitude that Playboy projected, the magazine retained the number one position in the world list of men’s magazines. There is another side to the man whose avatar was inseparable from the brand which is rarely known. It is that Hugh Hefner had just become a father when the first issue of the magazine was published. He was 27 and married to the first lady he had slept with, at least as per his account.
It was 1953, and his timing could not have been more precise. The American world was chock full of social intolerance and tightly knit rules about sexuality. Playboy breathed a new life into this priggish society. Hefner along with his brand brought about a revolution in the society. He may have been derided, criticized and disparaged over the years, but he stuck to his principle published in the first message – “We don’t expect to solve any world problems or prove any great moral truths.”
Yes, the publication and the man projected the image of a person squirting around scantily-clad, gorgeous woman. But that was not the whole of the man who brought about a much-needed progression to the society. Playboy, along with Hefner, also supported social causes. The magazine gave the voice of many authors a platform. When few people were ready to mingle with black guests, Hefner invited them to his heavily broadcasted parties. When it came to freedom of speech and progression, Hugh Hefner was at the forefront; winning him multitudes of civil liberties awards.
The legend who created a marvel stepped down in 2016. The creative control of the publication was passed down to Cooper Hefner, his son. The hope is that a world where the internet is steadily eating into the magazine’s province, Playboy will be able to survive.