Hugh Hefner, Playboy Founder, Buried in Private Funeral

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In the days since Hugh Hefner passed away, after the tributes from many who saw someone other than the pajama clad ladies man who insisted his empire celebrated women, a darker side of the men’s magazine founder has emerged.

Playboy Magazine made its debut in 1953 with Marilyn Monroe, the sex symbol of the era on the cover, billed as a Men’s Magazine celebrating the life of the modern bachelor, right down to his trademark long stem pipe. which included a sexual lifestyle that was not spoken of, at least in mixed company, in the 1950’s.

Hefner, born in Nebraska to strict protestant parents, in a house that allowed no affection and no swearing, Hefner, broke free from the restrictiveness of the repressed life his parents lived and moved to Chicago.

Sexuality, during the Mad Men era, divided women into two classes those who did and those whom one married. For Hefner, his future would depend on those who did and embraced the freedom waiting in the wings.

His scandalous magazine, which he published monthly kept its secrets between the relatively tame cover pages, shocked moral America with the Playboy philosophy. Moral America, at the time had yet to experience the violence that would change the world, Hefner, the Pin-up and move Playboy into the reputation that would hold it for the next fifty years.


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1963, Playboy was celebrating a decade of liberating the sexual freedoms of the population, when tragedy struck on a late fall day, in Dallas, Texas, and a nation wept.

What followed this event has been called by historians as the actual beginning of the revolutionary 1960’s. A decade filled with an explosion of expression breaking the bonds, chains and mental constraints of the 1950’s.

A nation witnessed the unimagined and what followed is a nation gripped in PTSD. Hefner notwithstanding moved the cover of his magazine from the now famous bunny logo, and alluring women, to bolder imaging and styling pushing the previously unexplored boundaries.

Hugh Hefner’s personal life and lifestyle changed again after he moved from Chicago to sunny LA and purchased the infamous Playboy Mansion.

The dark days of his hedonistic lifestyle, which was probably worse that the majority of the population could have imagined, has recently, since his death, been revealed.  The world knew of Dorothy Stratten and Anna Nicole Smith, a murder and a suicide, and in even more relevant headlines, an alleged rape at the mansion by now dethroned comedic giant and accused serial rapist, Bill Cosby.

Hefner sex-success brought women to his door, all with the hope of stardom and the mansion was the first stop. Few made the change from Playboy bunny and centerfold to genuine celebrity.

The one principal of the Playboy lifestyle, which progressed as society did was boundaries; if they were to be pushed Hef did it first, if they moved ten degrees south; Hef pushed twenty; raising the bar of nude magazines, which Playboy was, and yes, the world’s best writers also saw gold in the pages.

As Hefner aged, the women didn’t. The rules of mansion lifestyle living also changed. Once again societies boundaries pushed and Hef pushed his further. The darkness of the interior lifestyle, a well-kept secret until recently, has begun to leak through the pristinely manicured lawn.

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Even the most conservative understood no one lives for free, and for Hefner and his bunnies the stories are emerging of group sex, sex ratings, decades of copious notes detailing exploits one can only imagine. No one has mentioned the inner security system that one assumes someone who enjoyed voyeurism and sexual games as much as Hefner, wouldn’t have had installed which allowed him at any given time to see throughout the home and gardens.

His wall of pictures, a personal celebration of the rich and famous that have at one time or another made the pilgrimage to the iconic playboy mansion including President Trump and First lady Melania to nearly every celebrity in Hollywood.

Hefner, wasn’t all about sex, even for a man who went to work in his pajamas and was vocal about sexuality, his use of Viagra after his libido faltered with age, he did weekly host movie screenings, on Monday and Thursdays and even from time to time allowed the mansion to be used for events, fund raisers and studio screenings.

Hefner was never the last stop for charities; his financial support for Hollywood and First Amendment Freedoms were well known and funded by the mogul.

Playboy enterprises created one of the most widely recognized branded images in the world, a publishing empire, that even in the age of digital maintain a solid share in the industry. Writers still hope to be published in the tome and girls, fresh from anywhere and everywhere still show up, hoping.

Thrice married, his first for ten years, to his childhood sweetheart, Mildred "Millie" Williams, the mother of David and Christie, both of whom are active in their late father’s empire.

And, in the spirit of his image his next two marriages to women considerably younger, Kimberley Conrad, from 1989 to 2010, that produced two sons, Marston and Cooper, and also ended in divorce. His third marriage to Crystal Harris ended with his death.

Hugh Hefner died this week, peacefully, in his famed mansion, from natural causes. He was 91. He was laid to rest, beside his first cover girl, Marilyn Monroe, in a quiet private funeral attended by his widow, his four children, and key staff. 

Image: Wikipedia

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