TMZ has reported that Hugh Hefner, the founder of Playboy magazine and star of E! reality show The Girls Next Door, died in his home on Wednesday (September 27th) due to natural causes. He was 91. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Hefner's son, Cooper Hefner, released a statement on his father's passing, saying, "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." He is survived by his son and his wife, Crystal Hefner.
"Hugh M. Hefner, the American icon who in 1953 introduced the world to Playboy magazine and built the company into one of the most recognizable American global brands in history, peacefully passed away today from natural causes at his home, The Playboy Mansion, surrounded by loved ones," a rep for the Playboy Enterprises founder said in a statement.
The Playboy founder was born Hugh Marston Hefner on April 9, 1926, in Chicago. After serving in the army and attending college, Hefner got the idea for Playboy while working in the publishing industry. By putting up his furniture as collateral for a loan and borrowing the rest from family and friends, Hefner published the very first issue of Playboy in December of 1953, which featured a nude Marilyn Monroe. The same year, Hefner launched media and lifestyle company Playboy Enterprises, Inc., on which he served as a board member until the time of his death.
The magazine became known for its articles as well as the beautiful women that graced its pages, with Hefner asking some of the world's greatest and most progress literary figures to write for him including Hunter S. Thompson, John Updike, Ian Fleming, Joseph Heller, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Margaret Atwood, Jack Kerouac and Kurt Vonnegut.
Following his decade-long marriage to first wife Mildred Williams, with whom he shared daughter Christie and son David and whom he divorced in 1959, Hefner was public about sharing intimacies with numerous women.
In 1971, Hefner purchased the legendary Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles where he relocated to permanently and lived until the time of his passing. The Playboy Mansion sold to Hefner's neighbor Daren Metropoulos for $200 million in June with the stipulation that Hefner was able to live in the home until his death.
Throughout his the five decades of life in the Playboy Mansion, Hefner was recognized for housing multiple young women in the home at the same time, including Girls Next Door stars Holly Madison, Bridget Marquardt and Kendra Wilkinson. The six-season E! reality series documented the lives of the Playmates and their relationship with Hefner inside the mansion.
After his seven-year relationship with "No. 1 girlfriend" Madison ended, Hefner began dating Crystal Harris, who he married on December 31, 2012. In April, Hefner's younger brother Keith died at the age of 87 from cancer.