Hugh Hefner and the fate of Playboy Enterprises Inc.
Bethany Montgomery Section Editor
On Sept. 27, billionaire and founder of Playboy Enterprises Inc. Hugh Marston Hefner died of cardiac arrest at the age of 91. Hefner, born and raised in Illinois, got his initial idea for Playboy magazine while working for a publishing company, not long after he attended college and served in the military. After borrowing money from family and friends and scraping up a small loan, Hefner released the first issue of Playboy at the end of 1953, featuring scandalous pictures of Marilyn Monroe. Immediately after, he launched Playboy Enterprises Inc. as a media and lifestyles company. According to People Magazine, the iconic bunny logo that currently represents Playboy was developed in 1967 because, according to Hefner, bunnies have “fresh, shy, vivacious” qualities. Although Hefner was married several times, he was known to have shared his iconic Playboy mansion with numerous women with which he had intimate relationships with.
The magazine’s rise to fame was contributed to a combination of pictures of beautiful women and literary pieces by leading authors of the time. Hefner remained a board member up until his death, but he took a step back from management due to medical conditions in 1985, which promoted his daughter Christie to President then CEO until 2009.
Following his death, many begin to wonder who would inherit his fortune and legacy. According to ET, Hefner’s fortune is estimated to be worth 50 million dollars. His third wife and widow Crystal Harris is said to have no stake in his fortune, a fact that she was reportedly “well aware of” when they married. Currently, there is only speculation as to which of Hefner’s four children will receive an inheritance. His daughter Christie and second oldest son Cooper were involved in the company for many years, but no one knows if they will receive special benefits. The five-acre Playboy mansion was sold to Hefner’s neighbor in 2016 under the condition that the billionaire would live there until his death.
Hefner will be buried next to Monroe, his first Playboy feature girl, in Westwood Village Memorial Park. According to the Daily News, he purchased the crypt in 1992 for 75,000 dollars, often stating that he found it rather “poetic” to be buried next to the actress.
His son Cooper, Chief Creative Officer for Playboy Enterprises offered the following statement regarding his father’s legacy: “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.”
In its 60 years of existence, Playboy has shaped the social world with its risqué images and controversial articles by legendary authors and celebrities. Although the fate of the company is uncertain, its legacy and founder are unmistakable icons of the twentieth century.