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Hugh Hefner: Playboy magazine founder dies aged 91

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(BBC) Hugh Hefner, the American founder of the international adult magazine Playboy, has died at the age of 91.

Playboy Enterprises Inc said he passed away peacefully at home in Los Angeles, from natural causes.

Hefner began publishing Playboy in his kitchen in 1953. It became the largest-selling men’s magazine in the world, shifting seven million copies a month at its peak.

Cooper Hefner, his son, said he would be “greatly missed by many”.

He paid tribute to his father’s “exceptional and impactful life as a media and cultural pioneer,” and called him an advocate for free speech, civil rights, and sexual freedom.

Hefner’s trailblazing magazine helped make nudity more acceptable in mainstream publications, despite emerging at a time when US states could legally ban contraceptives.

It also made him a multi-millionaire, spawning a business empire that included casinos and nightclubs.

The first edition featured a set of nude photographs of Marilyn Monroe originally shot for a 1949 calendar that Hefner had bought for $200.

The silk pajama-clad mogul became famous for his hedonism, dating and marrying Playboy models, and throwing decadent parties at the luxurious Playboy mansion in Los Angeles.

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