Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, who helped usher in the 1960s sexual revolution with his groundbreaking men’s magazine and built a business empire around his libertine lifestyle, died on Wednesday at the age of 91.
Playboy Enterprises said in a statement that, Hefner, once called the “prophet of pop hedonism” by Time magazine, peacefully passed away at his home.
Hefner was sometimes characterized as an oversexed Peter Pan as he kept a harem of young blondes that numbered as many as seven at his legendary Playboy Mansion. This was chronicled in “The Girls Next Door,” a TV reality show that aired from 2005 through 2010.
He said that thanks to the impotency-fighting drug Viagra he continued exercising his libido into his 80s.
“I‘m never going to grow up,” Hefner said in a CNN interview when he was 82. “Staying young is what it is all about for me. Holding on to the boy and long ago I decided that age really didn’t matter and as long as the ladies … feel the same way, that’s fine with me.”
Hefner settled down somewhat in 2012 at age 86 when he took Crystal Harris, who was 60 years younger, as his third wife.
He said his swinging lifestyle might have been a reaction to growing up in a repressed family where affection was rarely exhibited. His so-called stunted childhood led to a multi-million-dollar enterprise that centered on naked women but also espoused Hefner’s “Playboy philosophy” based on romance, style and the casting off of mainstream mores.
That philosophy came to life at the legendary parties in his mansions – first in his native Chicago, then in Los Angeles’ exclusive Holmby Hills neighborhood – where legions of male celebrities swarmed to mingle with beautiful young women.
Long before the Internet made nudity ubiquitous, Hefner faced obscenity charges in 1963 for publishing and circulating photos of disrobed celebrities and aspiring stars but he was acquitted.