Playboy founder Hugh Hefner has passed away at 91

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Hugh Hefner has passed away at the age of 91. He passed away at his LA home, the Playboy Mansion, from natural causes. He is survived by his wife Crystal Hefner (God, I forgot they got married) and his four children, Christie, Cooper, David and Marston Hefner. Christie Hefner, the oldest of his children, was the CEO of Playboy Enterprises until 2009. Cooper is Chief Creative Officer. Cooper Hefner released a statement:

“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, his son and Chief Creative Officer of Playboy Enterprises.

[From People]

While Hef no longer had much to do with the daily business of running Playboy Enterprises, his legacy at the company was felt by all. Whatever else you can say about Hef, please acknowledge that he was one of the most significant figures of the 20th century. Within the pages of Playboy, he nurtured the careers of many of the most iconic and talented writers, editors and photographers ever. He was one of the most strident defenders of the First Amendment. He was a vocal advocate for birth control, reproductive rights across the board, civil rights, racial equality, LGBT rights, and many liberal/progressive causes over the course of decades. His legacy is complicated, of course – he built an empire out of objectifying and fetishizing women, and the Girls Next Door era of Hef’s life probably wasn’t his best. Still, Hef was an icon, a pioneer and an iconoclast.

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Photos credit: WENN, PRPhotos, Pacific Coast News

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186 Responses to “Playboy founder Hugh Hefner has passed away at 91”

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  1. Sara says:

    Objectification of women is not sexual liberation.

    • Renee2 says:

      THIS.

    • Lolo86lf says:

      Are you saying he was not a good role model or human being? Of course objectification of women is not a good thing but he didn’t force any woman to do anything they didn’t want to do. Look at Paris Hilton’s cover. She looks quite happy to be on magazine’s cover doesn’t she?

      • Merritt says:

        He pressured several into doing things. And he gave women quaaludes to get what he wanted.

      • Milla says:

        well he had many bad sides, but he did some good things.

        he was old school, but he did create some opportunities for now iconic women, Kim Basinger and Debbie Harry among others.

        one thing i do admire – how he created business out of nothing. his idea was not groundbreaking, but he managed to create an empire out of it.

      • H says:

        Read some of the tell-alls of former Playmates and you’ll get an idea of what a pig Hef was. Before The Girls Next Door when he had a whole harem of “girlfriends”. Yes, some women used Hef for money and fame but he used them in much worse ways.

      • FLORC says:

        The CEO of GGW did nothing illegal. And got consent from the girls featured… that doesn’t mean there wasn’t manipulation and preying…
        Some had great experiences… many not so much. Loads of rapes that were hushed. All to protect brand and image.
        He was driven. Certain aspects of his professional life were and are extremely admirable. But, there’s the super bad side.

        Btw… because I don’t want to post twice. Didn’t his widow try and flee? Like he proposed and she ran. He offered her money, no other gfs, and a place in his Will! That got her back and she looked remorseful taking the vows even then.

        And stories of how the mansion was on curfew and lockdown. Girls needing doctors notes to not participate in the gatherings… yea… adults that knew what they were doing. Many being there was worse.

      • dannii says:

        @lolo He took naked pictures of brooke shields when she was underage and did not consent. As an adult she tried to get the pictures off him through court-the court ruled in his favour. Yes, he wasnt a good role model or human being he was a creep and you sound like a creep defending him.

      • Anna says:

        This is the stupidest thing I’ve ever read.

    • Ourobo says:

      YES.
      Good riddance to bad rubbish.
      I mean, Cosby used the mansion as a preying ground to drug and rape women. So did many other men.

      • HadleyB says:

        I agree and Hef used to say Qualudes were leg spreaders .. just gross.

        Men praise him for banging so many women – its utterly disgusting. Why did he get so many women though? Money.. power..drugs.. promises.. careers.. who knows what else…. it wasn’t his shining personality.

    • a reader says:

      AMEN!!!

    • What's Inside says:

      He is responsible for so many bad things through Playboy. So long Hef.

    • Ingrid von Sydow says:

      I hope all the Bunnies can make it to his funeral so they can hop on his grave.

    • Ingrid von Sydow says:

      I hope all of the Bunnies can make it for his funeral so they can hop on his grave.

    • Skippy says:

      This.

    • downTime says:

      I’m not impressed that he created “an empire” by twisting the idea of “sexual liberation”. Liberating men to douse women with qualludes for unprotected sex? Liberating men to idealize blonde, white and “bunny-ish” as “sexy”? I realize he did “some good things”, but so did many historical sociopathic manipulators.

    • Mari says:

      Hughman trafficker.

  2. smcollins says:

    RIP Hef

  3. Mar says:

    Paris looks good on that cover

  4. Merritt says:

    His refusal to use condoms, which has been confirmed by multiple ex-girlfriends, will always disgust me. If you don’t believe in protecting your partner then you don’t support sexual freedom or reproductive freedom.

    • Ourobo says:

      No condoms and plenty of baby oil. Among many other dangers, apparently yeast infections were an endless problem.

    • Beth says:

      If his ex-girlfriends didn’t like that he refused to use condoms, they shouldn’t have slept with him. I’ve always used protection, if a bf didn’t have any with him, I never had sex until he had condoms. If they knew that Hefner never would, why stick around?

      Some condoms actually GIVE me yeast infections, so we only use one kind

      • Merritt says:

        You cannot compare egalitarian relationships to ones with an imbalance of power.
        And the women he gave quaaludes to? Were they going to be able to refuse?

      • Clare says:

        @Beth think of the power differential in these ‘relationships’. For the most part the women he had sex with were dependent on his approval for their careers, and in some cases for the roof over their heads. He held an enormous amount of power over them to coerce them into sexual acts that they were uncomfortable with.

        Please please don’t go with the ‘well then why didn’t they leave’ or ‘why did they have sex with him’ argument. That’s not how abusive relationships work.

      • Ourobo says:

        Let’s admit we’re using the term “girlfriends” loosely here, and that most of them didn’t stop into the Mansion on the way to Harvard Law. How much choice do you think they had? How many had to, to get into the magazine? And how often did the Quaaludes he had no problem admitting to using (calls them “thigh openers”, the charming old chap) mean that consent wasn’t even a question?

      • Des says:

        If you want to understand what it was like to date Hugh, just google what his various girlfriends have had to say about living with him – esp post the 90s. They were young women he controlled financially, socially, sexually, and emotionally. Holly Madison contemplated suicide. They all had to beg him for their “allowance” per week because he was their main source of income and he used that to force them to do things. It’s gross.

      • H says:

        @Des, thank you. I actually watched a few episodes of The Girls Next Door and he also had a CURFEW for the women. An allowance and a curfew, what were they 12?

        Prior to that show, when he had like 8 girlfriends, he played them against each other. Holly Madison eventually came out on top as “main” gf. Can you imagine? The power imbalance there makes Hef an abuser, not a ‘ground-breaking’ feminist icon, as some try to claim.

      • Ally says:

        @Des you are so right. His last wife Crystal (when they had broken off their engagement at one point) had also spoken about how controlling he was. He was a horrible old man. Good riddance.

      • isabelle says:

        You must be perfect Beth, always making perfect perfect decisions when it comes to men and sex.

      • Beth says:

        @isabelle- nobody’s perfect, but I’ve always been really careful about men and sex. I think I’ve made responsible decisions about important things like that. If you have a choice, it’s not impossible to think twice before you do something you might regret

      • isabelle says:

        I agree Beth but think I made much better decisions as I’ve gotten older and that have resulted from the many dumb stuff I did do when I was young. Learning from my mistakes. Especially around the age of what was one playboy bunnies, model age. Late teens and early twenties.

    • downTime says:

      I actually read first hand accounts of the “bunny” life, and it makes me both physically and soul sick; it was glorified and legal prostitution. No thanks. We are worth MORE OF COURSE!!

  5. Clare says:

    One can argue that he did, in the early years of playboy, attempt to normalise sex and liberate female sexuality…however in his later years he very much veered towards popularizing the objectification of women and women’s bodies.

    That whole thing about having 3 live-in girlfriends competing for his attention and affections…I’m not sure there is a way to spin that as a positive.

    While I accept he launched many stars and did start a potentially important conversation about sex and women in America, I can’t help but think of him as a creep, who used his wealth and fame to prey on young women.

    • Sixer says:

      I concur. Not crying any tears here this morning.

      • AnnaKist says:

        This morning:
        Daughter: I just heard that that old Hugh Hefner bloke died.
        Me: Good. Let me know if they discover he was broke when he carked it.
        Nope, no tears here, either.

      • Sixer says:

        Someone I follow on the Twatter said, “Bet rigor mortis is the first time he’s had an erection without Viagra in decades.” I spat my tea!

      • AnnaKist says:

        Yes, Sixer, I saw many of the same on DM comments (yours is better):
        “Riker, Derbyshire, United Kingdom, 2 hours ago
        It’s the first time he has not needed viagra to make him stiff.”
        So many others glorifying the creepy old perv and his putrid “lifestyle”, and, natch, saying the women “knew what they were signing up for”… I’m starting to feel grubby and a bit sick.

      • holly hobby says:

        OMG those comments are gold!

      • Megan says:

        Do you think they will bury him in his pajamas?

    • magnoliarose says:

      He didn’t adjust with the times and he became a caricature of himself.

      • Alix says:

        So true. And I wonder about the live-in girlfriends — are they disappointed that the gravy train has stopped or are they secretly somewhat relieved?

      • Lynnie says:

        Probably both. Idk if he left anything in his will for them (I doubt it) though, so the relief might turn into panic if they have no other options.

      • Merritt says:

        Were there any remaining live-in girlfriends? I thought I heard that Crystal cleared everyone out when they got married. Not to mention, he had to pay to rent each room in the mansion out for the girlfriends, he didn’t own the mansion, the company did. There are also rumors of financial problems.

      • Amy Tennant says:

        I know he sold the mansion a few years ago with the stipulation that he could live in it for the rest of his life.

      • holly hobby says:

        Yes there were financial problems and he did not own the mansion. I heard about the stipulation too. I’m not sure how much is left in the estate.

      • FLORC says:

        Lots of talk about crystal… Idk the truth, but rumors were hef really wanted her to be his gf. She wanted to run. He offered her top status. She said no. A ring And to remove the other gfs… she said no, but then yes. Then she ended the engagement, but he added her to his will if shed marry him. So she did. And it was said she cried for days before, on the day, and after.
        I bet she’s the most relieved. Sick to say, but given the backround here…

    • detritus says:

      I don’t think he was ever good. It was all self serving, where any good to women was purely incidental.

      He said this in the late 60s:
      Clearly if you analyze all of the most basic premises of the extreme new form of feminism, you will find them unalterably opposed to the romantic boy-girl society that PLAYBOY promotes. Doing a rather neutral piece on the pros and cons of feminism strikes me as being rather pointless for PLAYBOY. What I’m interested in is the highly irrational, emotional, kookie trend that feminism has taken. These chicks are our natural enemy — and there is, incidentally, nothing that we can say in the pages of PLAYBOY that will convince them that we are not.

      • Sixer says:

        Similar to the Beat poets and free love. Entirely self-serving and, as others have said, with the same old patriarchal power imbalances.

      • third ginger says:

        PLAYBOY, as I knew it in the late 60′s and on into the 70′s [found them in frat houses and apartments of boyfriends] was about a lifestyle fantasy for men. it was crammed with ads for products no would-be playboy should be without. If a man attained this lifestyle, he won the best product of all, a woman like those in the center folds. I have no idea if it changed in any way. have not seen an issue in years.

      • FLORC says:

        I saw a very old anniversary issue once. Cigarette and alcohol ads everywhere… like every 3 pages a full page ad. The rest was mostly somewhat tasteful pics. And profiles on the girls featured… in the recent years I’d only hear of it if there was a good article.

    • sunny says:

      Yup. @clare, you totally nailed it.

    • Kitten says:

      YES you stated it perfectly, Clare. Honestly, I didn’t even bother to shrug when I heard the news.

    • isabelle says:

      What he really did…he is maybe the main reason women have bene objectified and worshipped for their bodies since he became the celluloid perfect woman. He is the reason so many of us have body image issues.

      • Ourobo says:

        Meh, body image issues pre-date Hef. There has been an “in” type of body for centuries, it just changes bit by bit so it can never be too attainable.
        He was a ghastly little creep though.

      • Jennie Hix says:

        I think what Playboy narrowed what we consider to beautiful, which is evident by the bleach blonde hair, big boobs and nose jobs most of these girls seem to have. Mass media in general, and Hugh Hefner in particular, took away the concept of “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Playboy tells YOU what is beautiful, men try to find a woman who conforms, and women try to conform to that standard.

        Imagine a world in which Playboy had never existed…

      • Jennie Hix says:

        Oops, and I forgot to mention the most prolific (and dangerous) standard: thinness.

      • Lisa says:

        If I imagined a world in which Playboy never existed, there would still be body image issues.

    • Lisa says:

      Yup. I have mixed opinions about him. He was a pioneer in some ways, but that doesn’t excuse the hell he put a lot of those girls through. You can say that they chose that life and knew what they were getting into, but why did they choose it? He sold them an image that reality couldn’t live up to. By the time they found out, they had left their old lives behind and had nothing to fall back on, and that’s how he held them for so long – not because he was some awesome, progressive guy who really cared.

    • I Choose Me says:

      Nailed it Clare. He was a total, unapologetic misogynist who preyed on many young women and as such I feel zero emotion at his passing.

      • Ksenia says:

        Agreed. He was a deeply, pathologically self centered man, and he did nothing *intentionally* progressive or beneficial for women. As far as his being an icon—yeah, for an earlier generation or two of *men*, he was. Back when the U.S. was still (largely) very sexually repressed, and men felt far more guilt and shame over their attraction to pornography than today, Hefner made porn “wholesome” for these males, and normalized the objectification of women who were not considered outright “sluts” and “whores” but “clean and good”—in other words, the so-called”girl next door.” To lust after such women was “only normal”—not perverse or abnormal. With that, for men, came a kind of sexual liberation (though they’d been the only ones repressing themselves, and women)–but he did nothing whatsoever that was purposefully helpful to women’s liberation; in fact, he was very anti-feminist. He thought “romance” for women and men were two very different things: it was fine, natural, for men to have (or long for) multiple partners, but a woman’s desire was to be sated by a single man. In fact, a woman’s entire life was to be sated by and sacrificed to men; in the 60′s, at least, he made it clear he was not fond of women with careers outside the home, that it wasn’t a “natural” female role. In many ways such as this, he was no pioneer at all, merely a hypocritical, selfish, misogynistic product of his age. His “landmark” vision was a male vision, in a male oriented and male dominated world.

      • StarBangledSpammer says:

        Wow, Ksenia – I never thought of it that way. His empire *was* sexually liberating for men, but his whole career he shoved women into a box where specific body type and personality/behavior served men’s sexual pleasure. As a GenXer, I felt the pressure to get into the box but now that I am in my 40s, I am so glad I followed my own vision for fulfillment instead of being a vehicle for men’s.

  6. detritus says:

    From what I’ve read, Hef was not good to women. Personally or at large. At one point he felt that the Playboy ethos was directly opposite to feminism and equality. Literally wrote a memo about it.

    His editors and sex experts didn’t believe in the clitoral orgasm, in its existence or intensity compared to vaginal intercourse. Coupled with their quoted philosophy that women shouldn’t be more than sex objects in their magazine, I think Playboy and it’s ilk seriously contributed to the idea that a woman’s sexual pleasure should come from pleasing her man.
    He may have offered liberation to be sexual, but it was for service of others wants, not for pleasure itself.

  7. HeyThere! says:

    Yikes. This man had always given me the creeps!! And for so, so many reasons.

  8. Ally says:

    Leaving this here (and, yes, like Cosby, he was keen on doling out Quaaludes):

    https://www.buzzfeed.com/kateaurthur/holly-madison-burns-it-down?utm_term=.afbqkGPw7R#.mmvY2rKNMk

    • Anon says:

      THIS quote…

      “The book also explicitly tears down an insidious thread in popular culture in which women have portrayed themselves on reality television as dumb and less than” in my opinion that Mr. Hefner preyed upon because he understood and perputated this as his philosphy (if you can even call it that sadly) among “his” bunnies……..

    • adastraperaspera says:

      Great read, thank you.

    • AnnaKist says:

      Thanks for the link, Ally.

  9. magnoliarose says:

    Playboy had some great journalists, and you are right we should look at the positive legacy even while acknowledging he is problematic. They had exposes that were groundbreaking, and he was against racism and pushed liberal ideals. His point of view was that nudity and sex were not equal to violence, hatred, war and bigotry but the outrage was far more fervent about Playboy even existing.
    I think there are angles to be considered about Playboy probably that don’t make sense in contemporary society but considering it started in the 50s perhaps for some women who wanted to be erotic models it was positive? I don’t know because I don’t know what happened to them or how they feel about it now.
    It will be interesting to see how different feminists frame this.

  10. GRR says:

    He preyed on young and vulnerable girls (including teen runaways with drug problems and high school age girls who had already been in psychiatric care) in order to manipulate them into becoming an “Official Girlfriend” (a woman who lives at the Mansion under a strict curfew and strict set of rules, including mandatory ‘sex nights’, in exchange for cash).

    The descriptions of the living conditions for the Official Girlfriends and especially the details of the sex nights are highly disturbing and read as pretty emotionally abusive. At the very least he coerced vulnerable extremely young women into having sex for cash and treated them badly.

    This is a guy who openly admitted he was into bestiality porn and had tried unsuccessfully to make bestiality porn. There a lot of whitewashing going on.

    • Lynnie says:

      Yeah the write up on this was kinda eyebrow raising

    • Kitten says:

      Your last paragraph–JFC. That is disgusting.

    • MrsPanda says:

      He always scared me, cold dark eyes, no life in them, like tiny black pieces of coal. Dude was a little evil I think, bestiality doesn’t surprise me, and is consistent with the nasty games he played with his ”girlfriends”. Sadistic & abusive, possibly sociopathic… plenty of sociopaths are good in business though. That’s the kindest thing I can summon up about him!

    • mayamae says:

      In Kendra’s book she described how Hef would lay on the bed with his erection, and the women would line up to jump on and off. No cleaning up between women. I cannot image the infections that man spread. Kendra also said she would use drugs and alcohol to make her nights with him easier. And this from a woman who seemed to still adore him like a father figure.

  11. lower case lois says:

    RIP Hef. I hope they bury you with a pair of bunny ears and viagra bottle, so you can go out the right way.

  12. jwoolman says:

    I wonder what Hef would have done if he hadn’t grown up in such a rigidly non-physically affectionate family. I always wondered if his obsession with sex was just an unending thirst to be touched. He certainly had a weird view of sex also and he was very much into controlling women. Look at the way his “girlfriends” ended up with huge fake breasts and blonde hair – that was to please Hef.

    If you dug a little into the background of his “girlfriends”, it wasn’t hard to find damage. One of them in The Girls Next Door became obsessed with being in Playboy when she found her father’s copy of Playboy when she was a child. Doesn’t take a psych degree to figure that one out. The famous youngest one with the TV show (Kendra?) had a mother who was just horrible. Her mom was fine with Hef including her daughter in his harem, but wanted her to abort her child with the not very successful athlete (Hank?). Her mom was just toxic. Hank’s parents seemed quite nice.

    Hef lied about Marilyn Monroe. She didn’t pose for Playboy. She posed for nude pictures at a time when she was poor and about to be evicted, because she needed the money. The photographer sold the pictures to Playboy after she was famous, and it almost derailed her career. The studio wanted to engage in some sort of coverup (how that would be accomplished, who knows), but Marilyn took the honest route and explained the circumstances instead.

    I always felt Playboy was worse than the harder core porn mags because “respectable men” (my colleagues) thought it was okay to read “for the articles”. I watched them as they salivated over the pictures, and it wasn’t the articles that attracted them. Made me wonder if they knew what real women looked like, the center of gravity seemed pretty odd to me. It was really about control and not about real sex or art. Basically a masturbation aid based on fantasy that was harmful because it involved such a strange view of half the population. The reason they didn’t use pictures of doorknobs as masturbation aids is because they valued their everyday Interaction with doorknobs more. You can’t fill your head with such images and attitudes and not be affected in your interaction with women in other contexts. I always said that if they really read it “just for the articles”, prove it by demanding an edition free of weird pictures of women and anti-women jokes, letters, and cartoons.

    • Lynnie says:

      Good points 👏🏾

    • Maum says:

      THIS TO THE WORD.

    • Zapp Brannigan says:

      Yes the Marilyn Monroe stuff is covered in a podcast called “You must remember this” she gave a teary “off the record” account of why she did the pictures to a journalist who of course published it, about how she was to be homeless, had no support and was desperate at the time, it turned public opinion around about her. If anyone is interested in old Hollywood it is a great podcast.

      • Stumpycorgi says:

        I love that podcast! For another tragic playboy story, listen to the Dorothy Stratton episode in the “Dead Blondes” series. It’s heartbreaking.

    • Kitten says:

      This is such a thoughtful and well-written comment, J Woolman. So much truth in there.

    • Meggles says:

      Kendra became a Girlfriend when she was barely over the age of consent, having previously been a teen runaway and spent time in rehab and psych wards and modelled nude underage. He basically groomed a highly vulnerable, troubled young girl.

      God only knows what was going on with Holly to make her so utterly obsessed with Hef and willing to change everything about herself to become his perfect woman.

      Bridget was probably the most well-adjusted being in her thirties, educated and married, and she came in with a pretty business-like attitude that she was having sex with him in exchange for being a centrefold. But it says something that an educated married woman would be pursuing her lifelong dream of posing nude for a magazine. The way Hef treated her, dangling being a centrefold over her head and telling her she was too old and ugly, was disgusting.

    • KLO says:

      @jwoolman I so agree with your opinion that Playboy was actually worse than the “real” porn mags.

      Guys (or girls) who sought out the porn mags knew what they were doing and had to aknowledge what their aim was when buying that kind of publication.

      Playboy made sexual objectification look fun, desirable and glamorous, something that everyone should strive for, all the while destroying the self esteem and lives of many people just like that.

    • Jennie Hix says:

      “It was really about control and not about real sex or art.”

      I’m going to repeat this every time someone praises Playboy. You elucidated what I could not. Thank you.

  13. Barrett says:

    Yeah I don’t think many positives for us women as a result of Him.

  14. smcollins says:

    You guys are almost making me regret my RIP comment. I knew he was a problematic figure and very “old school” so to speak, but some of this info is kinda new to me (not all of it, but some). Love it or hate it there’s no denying the cultural icon he was, even if he did become more of a mascot than a “revolutionary” later in life.

    • MellyMel says:

      Right?! I was just about to comment RIP and how he lived one hell of a life. But these comments just woke me up this morning. There’s a lot about him (the negative stuff) I clearly didn’t know. Time to google…

    • Sandra says:

      Yes, I thought of him as important to the sexual revolution back in the day, but unfortunately not having kept up with the times in his later years. Now I’ll have to re-think my stance. No wonder my husband looked at me strangely when I said he did important groundbreaking things in his early days!

    • Faye says:

      Wishing that someone rests in peace is not a regrettable comment. People are both good and bad, which is something we all seem to forget. Hugh did some terrible, terrible things. Hugh also launched the careers of hundreds of women, was an activist, a very large charitable contributor, and a free speech supporter.

      He was a good person and a bad person. I’m not making excuses, and I don’t particularly care about Hugh, but this weird tendency to categorize people as infallibly good or irredeemably bad on threads like this is problematic and adds to a culture that’s really toxic. We can talk about the shitty things Hugh did, while acknowledging the good. Actions aren’t points you rack up throughout your life and they don’t cancel out each other.

      • smcollins says:

        Thanks @Faye, that makes me feel better. I was starting to think there was something wrong with paying my respects to a lost icon, even though his history isn’t the greatest. Your comment was wonderfully stated and I agree.

      • Kitten says:

        Eh. The public response to his death has been largely positive with tributes from celebrities, activists, politicians, and other public figures; tweets and comments honoring him as an “icon” and freedom fighter.

        So commenters on one celeb blog choose to point out his faults in order to balance what many of us view as a whitewashed, over-the-top level of reverence and veneration and that is somehow “toxic”?

        Frankly, I disagree.

        And I don’t think C/Bers aren’t aware that people are a mixture of “good and bad”. But we ARE concerned with the overpraise and lionization of a man who was unarguably very problematic in his views and treatment of women. Downplaying and minimizing that aspect of his persona is equal to erasing a large part of his dubious and complicated legacy.

      • Faye says:

        The toxic culture I was referring to was in the same sentence-the absolution of Good and Evil. People are not entirely good, and are not entirely bad, and thinking like that puts undue pressure on your subconscious to fall into one or the other. Black and white thinking is a documented issue, specifically within the aspect of religious thinking of “good” or “bad”. I’m not advocating we whitewash, I’m just saying the commenter shouldn’t feel bad because she gave him an RIP. Idgaf about him either way, I was specifically referring to smcollins comment and the larger picture of Good and Evil.

      • Moonlampje says:

        the problem I have with this issue is that it is such a one way street compared to non famous people. I have mentioned long ago in the comments of another article that I have penfriends in American prison.

        The thing is: when I read an article about someone in prison or about to go to prison, the comments are all along the line of: let him burn in hell, starve him and throw away the key, he doesn’t deserve kindness, fry him (in case of a death sentence). Well, my penfriends are good people caught up in a bad situation (and I’m only speaking for my penfriends), but they do not get te time of day that Hef gets.
        So where are these people now? Why are they excusing Hef’s behaviour? Because he did a few good things? oh for crying out loud! An abusive misogynist is an abusive misogynist and that behaviour is inexcusable. That man has made the lives of so many young girls miserable.

        But because he is famous he can get away with it. Now that is something I can’t wrap my head around. The world has a sick view when it comes to these things. Hugh Hefner doesn’t have to RIP in my opinion… Just glad there’s one less bastard in this world. Sorry, just needed to vent. Nothing personal against anyone.

    • KiddVicious says:

      Years ago I read a quote that often when correcting social injustices, the pendulum will swing far to the opposite side and will eventually settle in the middle. That’s what I see Hugh Hefner and Playboy as, swinging far to the opposite side. Before Playboy women were invisible, they stayed at home to have babies, had to answer to men, whether it was a husband or a father, etc. Playboy brought women front and center. I think it could have been done in better way, or less of a creepy way, but it did give women a voice, especially in the sexual revolution and birth control.

      (One of) the problem with Hugh Hefner is that he lived too long. The pendulum is more towards middle while he was still on the opposite end.

      • mayamae says:

        I think it’s more accurate to say Hef brought a certain type of woman front and center.

      • kay says:

        i don’t know…his giving voice to women’s sexual revolution and birth control were entirely self serving…i wouldn’t imagine that he was concerned about birth control for any reason beyond he didn’t want to be getting anyone pregnant…or i guess gettting manyone’s pregnant.

    • KLO says:

      @smcollins I did not mind your RIP comment at all. He was human too, after all.

      What I found today was that the celebitchy comment section was the only place today that validated my actual feelings concerning this man. Where I live, all the news articles praise him as this “cultural icon” to look up to.

  15. Barrett says:

    Old fashioned views of women!

  16. JC says:

    Ugh. And that creepy Hollywood scene at that icky looking “mansion.”

  17. Amy Tennant says:

    Ah yes, another life cut tragically short by vice and sin.

  18. Lynnie says:

    Idk why I expected him to live forever.

    Will his death lead to any stylistic changes to the whole operation or will it just be business as usual?

    Side note: people overuse the word icon too much smh.

  19. willow85 says:

    After Esquire rejected a story about straight men being persecuted in a world where homosexuality was the norm, Hugh Hefner published it in Playboy. In response to angry letters, Hefner wrote: “If it was wrong to persecute heterosexuals in a homosexual society then the reverse was wrong, too.” that’s on the front page of reddit right now. yes, he was problematic at times, but to blame him for things others did, like cosby, is unfair.

  20. EOA says:

    Let’s not pretend that he didn’t exploit women’s vulnerabilities to his own advantage. Yes, many of those women were willing but it’s not as if they had a great deal of power in those relationships. It’s fine to acknowledge the complexity of his legacy – it’s not fine to think that his negative impact on women (both those that were under his control and women in general) is some minor afterthought.

  21. Dana says:

    I recently read an enlightening interview Oriana Fallaci conducted with him. For example:

    Hefner: “A girl resembles a bunny. Joyful, joking. Consider the kind of girl that we made popular: the Playmate of the Month. She is never sophisticated, a girl you cannot really have. She is a young, healthy, simple girl – the girl next door.

    The sex we fight for is innocent sex…we are not interested in the mysterious, difficult woman, the femme fatale, who wears elegant underwear, with lace, and she is sad, and somehow mentally filthy. The Playboy girl has no lace, no underwear, she is naked, well-washed with soap and water, and she is happy.

    Playboy girls have a first name, a last name, an address, a family. They belong to good respectable families from every point of view, financial, social. No, madam, we never choose poor girls. Poverty brings sadness with it, a sort of dirtiness that becomes evident even on a naked body.”

    Hefner: “I mean, I don’t feel comfortable with an intelligent woman. Simply, I don’t know what to do with her.”

    Hefner: “My special girl is Mary. It has lasted 3 1/2 years. But in the meantime I have had many less important relationships….I wouldn’t like Mary to be sexually involved with someone else…In my relationships, I do not look for equality between man and woman. I like innocent, affectionate, faithful girls who…”

    Interviewer: Do you mean you would never love a woman who has had as many men as you have had women, Mr. Hefner? A woman who accepted and applied your philosophy?

    Hefner: “Not in the least. I never looked for a woman like me. I wouldn’t know what to do with a Hugh Hefner in skirts.”

    It’s interesting seeing him praised today as a leader of the sexual revolution because it’s clear that Hefner’s sexual revolution was for men only. He pushed the idea that men should strive to be sophisticated, intellectual, and seek out worldly experience, especially sexual experience. But women who aspired to this were unappealing, “sad, and somehow mentally filthy”.

    For Hefner, the ideal woman had the personality & complexity of a pet golden retriever and was content to be sexually faithful to a man who had a harem on the side. The only “revolutionary” aspect of this was that even the innocent, nice girls Hefner favored would be willing to become Head Harem Girls without insisting on marriage.

    • JC says:

      Sidenote about Oriana Fallachi—she was a talented journalist..

    • Ally says:

      He was disgusting. I was pretty shocked to read the glowing remembrance here.

    • HK9 says:

      Very telling.

    • Va Va Kaboom says:

      WTF did I just read?!? Good God that man was even more repulsive than I thought.

    • Kitten says:

      SMFH There is just so much WRONG here.

    • Asiyah says:

      This goes in line with what I was just telling my husband. My husband, to my surprise, had VERY strong NEGATIVE views on Hef and Playboy in general, while my biggest issue with Hef was his hypocrisy and his treatment of women. Sure, there are exhibitionists out there who would love to pose for Playboy, so I won’t comment on the actual magazine, but let’s comment on his personal life. He was into polyamory ONLY FOR HIMSELF. People can say he played a hand in s*xual revolution but I call BS on that when he treated his girlfriends like personal property. He had a strict set of rules for them and they were practically prisoners (albeit willing prisoners but you know power imbalance). So no, he’s on pioneer, no revolutionist. He was a misogynist, plain and simple.

      • Honeybee Blues says:

        Preach it, Sister!

      • magnoliarose says:

        Playboy model and porn actresses are not my husband’s type at all. Way far from it, he finds them superficial and not at all sexy. He thinks Hef is repulsive too. I don’t know any men who read it or had it on their radar at all.

        But some guys want that, but I don’t believe that it began with Playboy. It just blew up and spread the idea.

  22. Amy Tennant says:

    For some reason I keep thinking about the Clarence Darrow quote about reading some obituaries with great pleasure.

    Here’s my Hef trivia: he had the world’s largest collection of personal scrapbooks and employed a full-time librarian to curate them.

    Playboy had some groundbreaking articles, and some of the photography was really artistic.

    But I wasn’t a fan of Mr. Hefner. I won’t gloat over his death. He lived a long life and apparently lived out his dream and the dreams of a lot of other… men. I won’t mourn his loss, but I’m sure plenty of other people will, so good on him.

  23. adastraperaspera says:

    I understand what you are saying about his work to maintain free speech in the U.S. The same is true of Hustler’s Larry Flynt. But the problem is that they did this by monetizing the subjugation of half of our population, and many of them undoubtedly underage, while telling us all it was about freedom. Meta gaslight. Guys like Bill Cosby were regulars at Hefner’s parties. We will never know how many young girls were abused by men at the Playboy Mansion, and even if women come forward to tell their stories, we will not believe them. Hefner’s “vision” is also the reason every Fox and CNN and Weather Channel female anchor looks like a Playmate. He crafted a fetish as a product and cynically marketed it as progressive. Many men bought what he was selling. The intentionally uncritical lauding of him today shows how far we have to go for equal rights. How free am I when studies show that currently, thin, blonde women with plastic Playmate faces do better in job interviews than other women? Is it a coincidence that this fembot image is exactly what Hefner’s girlfriends all look like? Don’t think so. Also, how free am I when I have to worry about my daughter in her new college, and warn her to stay away from “guys gone wild” rapeculture frat parties that clearly resemble Hefner’s bashes? I am not feeling charitable about Hefner. I have fought against his tawdry stereotypes my whole life.

    • third ginger says:

      Bravo. See my comment above.

    • I Choose Me says:

      Applauding every single thing you typed but ‘meta gaslight’ as a summary could not be more apt.

    • Wisca says:

      Excellent comment. I’ve known several “enlightened” men–academics, lawyers, medical doctors–who are staunch Hefner supporters in their private lives, while feigning “woke” feminist personas in their public lives. There have always been progressive pieces published in magazines that did not have naked women objectified within its pages. Hefner cloaked the most retrograde vision of women–spread eagle and compliant–a complement to barefoot and pregnant–with respectable, even forward thinking writing.

  24. hjklhgdsaa says:

    He couldnt handle the fact that his first wife had an affair before they were married and divorced his second wife in 2010 because he accused her of infidelity….after being separated for more than a decade and having multiple public girlfriends which the world knew about

    • Jennie Hix says:

      In my experience, so-called ladies’ men are rubbish in bed.

    • I just don’t buy that he started this magazine because of one woman (ex-wife), who actually appeared in some special about him, making me wonder if they weren’t on such bad terms after all. I mean, how does one man in the fifties decide he’s going to exploit ALL women and magically get his empire funded? Yes, he claimed Mom and Dad believed in him SO MUCH that they gave him the cash to get started, but that doesn’t feel like the whole story.

    • Jayna says:

      Kimberly left him.

  25. Betsy says:

    I get that he did a lot of good works, but my first thought when I read he was dead was, “good.”

    • Ally says:

      Yes. Me too.

    • Va Va Kaboom says:

      Me too. My second thought was “brace yourself for days worth of men waxing philosophical about their first wank and women trying very hard to convince you (but mostly themselves) that being reduced to a two dimensional wank-bank was really truly… no TRULY please believe me… an empowering experience”. I think condolences to his family was the third or fourth thing that occurred to me.

    • KLO says:

      @Betsy yes this was exactly my reaction too. I was reading the newspaper headlines in bed on my smartphone and when it caught my eye, I uttered “YEEEESSSS” with quiet satisfaction and glee.

  26. Butwhatif...... says:

    One thing I took away from the son’s statement was his acknowledgement of Krystal. I just assumed they hated her because she was younger than them ( I think??) and **probably** only in it for the money. That shocked me. Lol 🤔🙄

    • kay says:

      yeah, i thought that was odd too….maybe a legal move? like “we aren’t going to be fighting over this, y’all”?

  27. Ally says:

    Wait, for real? He was a disgusting old man. I remember Crystal interviewing with Howard Stern. When she was engaged to Hefner, she wanted to leave but was actually under some kind of contract that made it legally difficult. She said that he was super controlling and did not treat her well. I believe she did end up leaving, but I guess they eventually reconciled and ended up getting married after all. She did it for the money and she made her choices… but I still felt bad for her.

  28. a reader says:

    So a man who build a career on reducing women to a set of T&A has died. Big deal. He was a sexual predator and Cosby accomplice. Anyone praising him needs to have their heads examined.

  29. deebo says:

    Oh no! A glorified pimp died. So sad. Too bad.

    This guy let Cosby do what he did. I am glad he is gone. Now his “wives” can be free.

  30. word says:

    Will he stilled be buried in the grave above M Monroe? Facing downwards…

    • Amy Tennant says:

      Next to her. The guy above her is buried facing downwards, which is gross to me, but it’s what he wanted and his wife went along with it. Hef will be next to her, which is even grosser given the history, but c’est la mort.

    • adastraperaspera says:

      A Candle In The Wind, by Elton John
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NoOhnrjdYOc

      “Even when you died
      Oh the press still hounded you
      All the papers had to say
      Was that Marilyn was found in the nude”

      Ugh. This comment really got to me. I am sickened that he is going to be buried next to her. RIP Marilyn. May Hefner burn in hell.

  31. Amy Tennant says:

    Is Celebitchy commenter Miss Jupitero around? I never forgot her story about dating a Hef crony!

  32. Kym says:

    I just wanted to share that I’m really enjoying a lot of the comments that have been posted. They have been informative and incredibly thoughtful.
    Thank you.

  33. Tess says:

    Ok a disgusting exploitative old man has died, next…

  34. adastraperaspera says:

    The NYU online digital archives has a scan of Gloria Steinem’s “A Bunny’s Tale,” published in 1963. I haven’t read it since taking a women’s studies class in 1981. I think it is even a more riveting read now. The magazine called “Show” published it in two parts.

    http://dlib.nyu.edu/undercover/bunnys-tale-gloria-steinem-show-magazine

    To write the expose, Gloria went undercover as a Playboy Bunny, and she describes the conditions of the work and the culture that Hefner was creating in careful and thoughtful detail. The article is considered one of the earliest and most important investigative reporting pieces in journalism history. Of course, Hefner opposed the article and Steinem, for years after, was falsely accused of being an actual, disgruntled Playboy Bunny who just had an axe to grind. Hefner used her valid critique to construct a militant feminist strawman, that he claimed was actually anti-feminist. He (and more recently his son) have for decades claimed that feminism is actually a value that they embody in Playboy. Here is an article published this June that demonstrates this well:
    https://theoutline.com/post/1773/playboy-s-cooper-hefner-writes-an-essay-on-feminism-and-its-not-good

  35. I'm bored says:

    Wasn’t he involved with bill Cosby and the rape cases ? I remember reading something like that. Don’t be surprised when all the dirt starts coming out now that he’s dead

  36. Amy Tennant says:

    Agency. Agency is what bugs me. Agency and power. Correct me if I am wrong (and please do correct me if I am wrong), but the impression that I get from Playboy’s ideal is that the power and the agency in sex are primarily the man’s. And in a way, I get it. It’s a man’s magazine. Men are their audience. That’s their business model. But don’t say you’re doing women a favor by advancing that philosophy. Playboy is “sex-positive”, okay, but not “woman positive.” Maybe Hefner thought he was taking a step forward by not shaming women for being sexual beings, and I guess that’s a good thing. But he didn’t promote a respect for women’s sexual urges and certainly not their sexual pleasure (see his “anti-clitoral” stance, because what good is that thing if it doesn’t contribute to getting a man off). And the way he controlled his “girlfriends” was despicable. It’s true they weren’t literally forced into the arrangement (at least I hope none of them were), but he did take advantage of vulnerable young women and manipulated and controlled them with money.
    Really, I don’t like the guy. Of course I feel bad for his family now that he’s gone, but I’m not a fan. It’s the hypocrisy that makes me so mad. He didn’t have to claim to be on women’s side while exploiting them.
    I will give him a lot of credit though for discovering and nurturing literary talent. He did make a positive contribution to the world that way. In other ways, not so much.

  37. Arabella says:

    Kaiser, I was waiting to see what this site would say about him, and I really like how you framed this article. I’m not one of those people who admires him, so I like your objectivity.

    Also, funny to see his son call Crystal “his wife”. Guess I’m not used to that because if she were age appropriate, she may have been a stepmom.

  38. Jayna says:

    He controlled the women in his life. Sexually liberal? Ha. It was one-sided. He could cheat, sleep around, have multiple girlfriends. They could not, period. And in his later years, there were rules to live by in his house, curfews It was a trade-off for the women, access to a certain life, or fame, or whatever. His later years were a caricature, for sure.

  39. PleaseStop says:

    Has anyone else grown tired of “THIS” as a comment?
    I mean, why bother?
    At least “OMG! I just spit coffee all over my keyboard- LITERALLY” was somewhat creative at first.

  40. my3cents says:

    No tears.
    Sorry not sorry.

    • Flaming Oh says:

      No – not interested in a paean or praise for that pimp. CB site is one place I’d like to see free of a eulogy for someone who made adolescence harder for me coming to terms with the ubiquitous objectification of women. Suzanne Moore in the Guardian correctly identifies him as a disgusting old sleaze who threatened her free speech with litigation and was interested in men’s liberation at the expense of womens.

  41. teehee says:

    Oh good. Was my first thought. and then: Finally.

  42. Lis says:

    RIP but please let his brand of patriarchal bullshit die with him

  43. Cookiejar says:

    you know, it’s funny how this “liberation of women” never had them featured around attractive men. Instead it was always about having him, whose looks are beyond subpar, surrounded by blonde bombshells.

    I also read some disturbing tales about bunnies’ “duties”, lack of condom usages, not allowing them to have boyfriends, and weren’t paid (they received an “allowance”. Seems close to a harem….

  44. Alrighty Then says:

    Yes, I’ll agree that he had a screwed way of treating women he was in relationships with, but to say “good riddance” and sh*t like that over someone’s DEATH is awful. Especially if it’s a (flawed) someone who truly pushed for civil rights and stood his ground during an era when it could have cost him his entire business.

    For example, he used to have a televised variety show with celebrity & musical guests in which he was constantly lambasted for bringing on black guests in a time where segregation was a hot topic boiling over in America. He basically told producers and fans that disagreed to go f*ck themselves and proceeded to invite more guests like Sammy Davis Jr and Nina Simone. He also franchised Playboy Clubs all over the country and when he discovered that some of them where running segregated establishments he revoked their franchise licenses. It cost him money but he did it anyway because his stance on civil rights meant more to him than $$$.

    So yes, he may have been crappy to young vulnerable girls who were searching for an easy way in life but he DID contribute a lot to racial equality in this country. So no, not “good riddance” from me but a kind “thank you & farewell.”

    • KLO says:

      @Alrighty Then, thanks for an intereting and informative post. I did not know all that.

      It is good to hear that he at least considered black people to be humans that deserve respect (as long as it is commercially beneficial to him). He certainly did not consider women that.

      For a few years I have been noticing remarks that “women” as a group is actually more underprivileged than the “colored people” group. Someone once commented that Barack Obama got elected president because “at least he was not a woman” like his opposing candidate H. Clinton.

      I am not saying that I wholly agree with the race vs sex thing, but it is food for thought.

    • H says:

      While he may have had black performers in his Playboy clubs, he rarely used black centerfolds in his magazine. Her only wanted blondes in his magazine (in his later years). He told Holly she looked “cheap, old and hard” when she got her hair cut short. He was a despicable man.

    • Scarlett says:

      How many Bunnies were women of colour? Or ethnic of any description beyond caucasian and blonde?

  45. Anilehcim says:

    Hef was a creepy, deeply disturbed guy. I watched his E! True Hollywood Story and really thought he was pretty pitiful–he basically got his heartbroken as a kid and built the Playboy empire based upon that. What came off as “cool” in the 1960s, -70s, and -80s began look quite creepy and gross in the last decade or two. That suave bachelor persona became quite pathetic when he was an old man and the “girls” began talking about what life was really like there. He did not age gracefully.

    However, I fall short of considering his agreement or arrangement with any of his girlfriends to be controlling or exploitative. These women may have regrets now, but they willingly lived under disturbing conditions and had sex with him for money, cosmetic surgery, and exposure. This is a choice that they made. It wasn’t like it was indentured servitude. They were literally free to leave at any time.

    Something nice: Hefner played an enormous role in getting people to talk about pregnancy out of wedlock and destigmatizing the issue… he also was a financial backer for Roe v. Wade, and fought to get birth control pills made available to women all over the world. He was also an outspoken proponent of gay marriage for years.

  46. Anna says:

    Good. The sentence ‘he built an empire out of objectifying and fetishizing women’ should NOT be followed by a ‘still…’. Stop making excuses for these men.

  47. Big D says:

    Anytime you are in the business of selling sex for money you will always be viewed as creepy, twisted, bad, sick- nomatter how you want to spin it.
    And this business of giving the bunnies a pass because they were “victims”must stop. Ultimately we are all responsible for our choices and if some of them came from broken homes and had been victims of abuse, it is ultimately still down to them to decide if whatever illusions Hef was selling them was worth getting into that life. Women are always pushing for not wanting to be seen as victims. Don’t see the bunnies as victims but as women, flawed or otherwise, who ultimately decided that this is the life they wanted. They were not forced into it. If a women loathes him but is then ultimately enticed by his money although she doesn’t want to actually be with him then she has souled her soul. Plain and simple.

  48. Poppy says:

    Make a list of pros and cons and what the public knows of as cons still outweighs the pros.
    That’s only going on what is known.

    I worked for a photographer that has shot many many jobs for playboy. It is devastating what has happened to most of these girls that come into the “industry” and it goes downhill from there. If they are “special” they might make some decent money but the odds are stacked that isn’t likely to happen for most of the models.
    If you have to do a lot of scary heavy duty drugs to pose for someone it is a clear indication of just how terrible the industry is. It is truly an industry of predators and worse, they are allowed to be fairly open about it.
    It only took one job for playboy to say I would NEVER work on any production where the talent has and continues to be abused. Nothing “happened” to this model during the shoot but I shake thinking about that job. Eventually I couldn’t work for this photographer when I realized he didn’t have an issue with that aspect of his work -his attitude was in line with what I refuse to associate my name and my work with, let alone how I feel for these girls. FYI they shoot for playboy all over and if you live in a fairly populated area it (and worse) is happening in your backyard.
    I have a friend that has been in playboy 3 times. She is truly beautiful but she has had the kind of life that you would NEVER want for yourself or wish for your daughter, sister, mother, cousin. She is in a good place now but that isn’t saying much considering where she came from. And even she recognizes that getting to this better place was definitely related to her aging out of making money from her naked body (also was a stripper).
    It is a disgusting industry.
    FUCK THESE MEN. I am not sorry. GOOD RIDDANCE. There isn’t enough positive to balance the negative with HH.

    Can only hope the ladies coming into it now and the near future are more savvy and powerful or nothing is going to change.

    Do not defend this POS to me. I have seen with my own eyes. Believe.