Los Angeles – Hugh Hefner, the silk pajamas-wearing founder of Playboy who helped steer nudity into the American mainstream, died Wednesday, the magazine announced. He was 91 years old.
Hefner, who in 1953 founded a trailblazing brand that would help usher in the 20th century’s shifting attitude towards sexuality, died of natural causes in his Beverly Hills home — the famed Playboy Mansion — according to a statement from Playboy Enterprises.
“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,” his son Cooper Hefner, Playboy Enterprise’s chief creative officer, said in a statement.
After being struck by fears that he would end up following his parents’ zipped-up lifestyle, Hefner — who had worked in jobs ranging from assistant personnel manager to promotion copywriter at Esquire magazine — decided to take dramatic action and start his own magazine in 1953.