Hugh Hefner is a magazine publisher, as well as the founder and chief creative officer of Playboy Enterprises.
Working as a copywriter for Esquire, Hugh Hefner left in January 1952 after being denied a $5 raise. In 1953, he mortgaged his furniture, generating a bank loan of $600, and raised $8,000 from 45 investors, including $1,000 from his mother (“Not because she believed in the venture,” he told E! in 2006, “but because she believed in her son.”), to launch Playboy, which was initially going to be called Stag Party. The undated first issue, published in December 1953, featured Marilyn Monroe from her 1949 nude calendar shoot and sold over 50,000 copies. (Hugh Hefner, who never met Monroe, bought the crypt next to hers at the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery.)
After it was rejected by Esquire magazine in 1955, Hugh Hefner agreed to publish in Playboy the Charles Beaumont science fiction short story, “The Crooked Man”, about straight men being persecuted in a world where homosexuality was the norm. After receiving angry letters to the magazine, Hugh Hefner wrote a response to criticism where he said, “If it was wrong to persecute heterosexuals in a homosexual society then the reverse was wrong, too.”
On June 4, 1963, Hugh Hefner was arrested for selling obscene literature after an issue of Playboy featuring nude shots of Jayne Mansfield was released. A jury was unable to reach a verdict.
Hugh Hefner’s former secretary, Bobbie Arnstein, was found dead in a Chicago hotel room after an overdose of drugs in January 1975. Hefner called a press conference to allege that she had been driven to suicide by narcotics agents and federal officers. Hugh Hefner further claimed the government was out to get him because of Playboy’s philosophy and its advocacy of more liberal drug laws.
Hugh Hefner has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for television and has made several movie appearances as himself. In 2009, he received a “worst supporting actor” nomination for a Razzie award for his performance in Miss March.
A documentary by Brigitte Berman, Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist and Rebel, was released on July 30, 2010. Hugh Hefner had previously granted full access to documentary filmmaker and television producer Kevin Burns for the A&E Biography special Hugh Hefner: American Playboy in 1996.
Hugh Hefner and Burns later collaborated on numerous other television projects, most notably on The Girls Next Door, a reality series that ran for six seasons (2005–2009) and 90 episodes.
In 1999, Hugh Hefner financed the Clara Bow documentary, Discovering the It Girl. “Nobody has what Clara had. She defined an era and made her mark on the nation,” he stated
How Hugh Hefner Made His Money – Publishing
Estimated Net Worth: $43 Million
Birthday: April 9, 1926
[image via Toglenn]