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Playboy founder and dressing-gown wearer Hugh Hefner dead at 91

A moment of silence, please, for the godfather of the jazz mag

As all unabashed masturbators love to point out, pornography has historically driven technological uptake. But before the internet, Playboy was the most famous source in the world. Yesterday its founder, Hugh Hefner, died peacefully at home of natural causes, aged 91.

The godfather of the wank mag was born in Chicago in 1926 and founded Playboy in 1953, which he published from his kitchen table.

Despite the ubiquity of online porn, the magazine is still published in 20 countries and the brand, with all its associated merch, turns over $1bn (£740m) sales per year.

In 2015 Playboy announced it would stop publishing pictures of naked women because it had become "passé" in the internet age, but they returned in 2017.

Back in the day, the magazine was also well known for its literary output, publishing fiction by such writers as Ray Bradbury, John Updike, Ian Fleming, Joseph Heller, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Margaret Atwood, Jack Kerouac and Kurt Vonnegut.

It also ran interviews with iconic figures such as Frank Sinatra, Marlon Brando, Fidel Castro and John Lennon, who spoke to Playboy in 1980, not long before he was murdered.

Hefner's son Cooper said: "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. He will be greatly missed by many, including his wife Crystal, my sister Christie and my brothers David and Marston and all of us at Playboy Enterprise."

However, in later life Hefner became a caricature, always wearing his trademark velvet dressing gown, and attended by a gang of women known as "the girlfriends". He claimed to have had sex with 1,000 women.

Hefner was married three times and is survived by his wife, Crystal, a former Playmate, and four grown children. ®

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