Hugh Hefner
Hefner attending Glamourcon #50, Long Beach, California on November 13, 2010
Hugh Marston Hefner

(1926-04-09) April 9, 1926 (age 97)
Alma materSteinmetz High School
University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign (B.A.)
OccupationMagazine publisher
Known forEditor-in-chief of Playboy magazine, Chief Creative Officer of Playboy Enterprises
Political partyIndependent
Board member ofPlayboy Enterprises
Spouse(s)Mildred Williams (1949–59)
Kimberley Conrad (1989–2010)
Crystal Harris (2012–present)
Partner(s)Barbi Benton (1969–76)
Brande Roderick (2000–01)
Holly Madison (2001–08)
Kendra Wilkinson (2003–08)
Bridget Marquardt (2003–08)
ChildrenChristie Hefner
David Hefner
Marston Hefner
Cooper Hefner

Hugh Marston Hefner (born April 9, 1926) is an American adult magazine publisher, businessman, and a well-known playboy. Hefner is a native of Chicago, Illinois and a former journalist for Esquire. Hefner is also a World War II veteran. He is best known for being the founder and chief creative officer of Playboy Enterprises.[1] A self-made multi-millionaire, he is now worth over $43 million. Hefner is also a political activist and philanthropist active in several causes and public issues.

Early life

Hugh Hefner was born in Chicago, Illinois on April 9, 1926.[2] He is the first child of Grace Caroline (née Swanson; 1895–1997) and Glenn Lucius Hefner (1896–1976), who both worked as teachers. His parents were from Nebraska.[3][4] He has a younger brother, Keith (born 1928).[5][6] Hefner's mother was of Swedish descent, and his father had German and English ancestry.[7][8] Through his father's line, Hefner has stated that he is a direct descendant of Plymouth governor William Bradford.[9][10] He has described his family as "conservative, Midwestern, [and] Methodist".[11]

He attended Sayre Elementary School and Steinmetz High School, then during World War II, served as a writer for a military newspaper in the U.S. Army from 1944 to 1946. Hugh graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign with a bachelor of arts in psychology and a double minor in creative writing and art in 1949. After graduation, he took a semester of graduate courses in sociology at Northwestern University but dropped out soon after.[12]


Hefner in 1966

Working as a copywriter for Esquire, he 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.[13] (Hefner, who never met Monroe, bought the crypt next to hers at the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery.[14][15])

After it was rejected by Esquire magazine in 1955, 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, 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."[16] In 1961, Hefner watched Dick Gregory perform at the Herman Roberts Show Bar in Chicago. Based on that performance, Hefner hired Gregory to work at the Chicago Playboy Club; Gregory attributes the subsequent launch of his career to that night.

On June 4, 1963, Hefner was arrested for selling obscene literature after an issue of Playboy featuring nude shots of Jayne Mansfield was released.[17] A jury was unable to reach a verdict.[18]

In the 1993 Simpsons episode "Krusty Gets Cancelled", Hefner guest-voiced himself where he played a musical piece on the wine glasses.

In 1999, 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.[19]

Hefner guest-starred as himself in a 2006 episode of Seth Green's Robot Chicken on the late-night programming block Adult Swim.

He 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. He 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.[20] 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.

Personal life

Hefner in 2014

In 1949, Hefner married Northwestern University student Mildred Williams (born 1926). They had two children: Christie Hefner (born 1952) and David (born 1955).[21] Before the wedding, Mildred confessed that she had an affair while he was away in the army. He called the admission "the most devastating moment of my life." A 2006 E! True Hollywood Story profile of Hefner revealed that Mildred allowed him to have sex with other women, out of guilt for her infidelity and in the hopes that it would preserve their marriage. The two were divorced in 1959.[22][23]

Hefner remade himself as a bon viveur and man about town, a lifestyle he promoted in his magazine and two TV shows he hosted, Playboy's Penthouse (1959–1960) and Playboy After Dark (1969–1970). He admitted to being "'involved' with maybe eleven out of twelve months' worth of Playmates" during some of these years.[24] Donna Michelle, Marilyn Cole, Lillian Müller, Shannon Tweed, Barbi Benton, Karen Christy, Sondra Theodore, and Carrie Leigh — who filed a $35 million palimony suit against him — were a few of his many lovers. In 1971, he acknowledged that he experimented in bisexuality.[25] He moved from Chicago to Los Angeles.

Hefner had a minor stroke in 1985 at the age of 59. After re-evaluating his lifestyle, he made several changes. The wild, all-night parties were toned down significantly and in 1988, daughter Christie began to run the Playboy empire. The following year, he married Playmate of the Year Kimberley Conrad. The couple had two sons: Marston Glenn (born 1990) and Cooper Bradford (born 1991).[26] The E! True Hollywood Story profile noted that the notorious Playboy Mansion had been transformed into a family-friendly homestead. After he and Conrad separated in 1998 she moved into a house next door to the mansion.

In January 2009, Hefner started dating Crystal Harris,[27] joining the Shannon Twins after his previous "number one girlfriend", Holly Madison, had ended their 7-year relationship.[28] On December 24, 2010, he became engaged to Harris, to become his third wife.[29] Harris broke off their engagement on June 14, 2011, five days before their planned wedding.[30] In anticipation of the wedding, the July issue of Playboy, which reached store shelves and customer's homes within days of the wedding date, featured Harris on the cover and in a photo spread as well. The headline on the cover read "Introducing America's Princess, Mrs. Crystal Hefner".[31] It was later covered on newsstand issues with a sticker that read "Runaway Bride". The two later reconciled, and on December 31, 2012, Harris and Hefner married at the Playboy Mansion in a small private ceremony; he was 86 and she was 26.[32][33]

Playboy Mansion

Hefner became known for moving an ever-changing coterie of young women into his mansion, including twins Sandy and Mandy Bentley. He dated as many as seven women concurrently. He also dated Brande Roderick, Izabella St. James, Tina Marie Jordan, Holly Madison, Bridget Marquardt, and Kendra Wilkinson. Madison, Wilkinson and Marquardt appeared on The Girls Next Door depicting their lives at the Playboy Mansion.[34] In October 2008, all three girls made the choice to leave the mansion. Hefner soon began dating his new "Number One" girlfriend, Crystal Harris,[35] along with 20-year-old identical twin models Kristina and Karissa Shannon.[36] The relationship with the twins ended in January 2010.[37] After an 11-year separation, Hefner filed for divorce from Conrad stating irreconcilable differences.[38] Hefner has said that he only remained nominally married to her for the sake of his children,[39] and his youngest child had just turned 18.[26] The divorce was finalized in March 2010.[40] On December 24, 2010, Hefner presented an engagement ring to Crystal Harris, publicly announcing the proposal the following day.[14] Hefner and Harris had planned to marry June 18, 2011.[41][42] Harris called off the wedding just 5 days before they were due to be wed.[43] Twenty-six-year-old Harris and eighty-six-year-old Hefner reconciled and were married on December 31, 2012.[44][45][46]

In 2012, Hefner announced that his youngest son, Cooper, would likely succeed him as the public face of Playboy.[47]

Politics and philanthropy

The Hugh Hefner First Amendment Award was created by Christie Hefner "to honor individuals who have made significant contributions in the vital effort to protect and enhance First Amendment rights for Americans."[48]

He has donated and raised money for the Democratic Party.[49] However, he has more recently referred to himself as an independent due to disillusionment with both the Democratic and Republican parties.[50]

In 1978, Hefner helped organize fund-raising efforts that led to the restoration of the Hollywood Sign. He hosted a gala fundraiser at the Playboy Mansion and personally contributed $27,000 (or 1/9 of the total restoration costs) by purchasing the letter Y in a ceremonial auction.[51][52]

Hefner donated $100,000 to the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts to create a course called "Censorship in Cinema," and $2 million to endow a chair for the study of American film.[53]

Both through his charitable foundation and individually, Hefner also contributes to charities outside the sphere of politics and publishing, throwing fundraiser events for Much Love Animal Rescue as well as Generation Rescue,[54] a controversial anti-vaccinationist campaign organization supported by Jenny McCarthy.

On November 18, 2010, Children of the Night founder and president Dr. Lois Lee presented Hefner with the organization's first-ever Founder's Hero of the Heart Award in appreciation for his unwavering dedication, commitment and generosity.[55]

On April 26, 2010, Hefner donated the last $900,000 sought by a conservation group for a land purchase needed to stop the development of the famed vista of the Hollywood Sign.[51]

Sylvilagus palustris hefneri, an endangered subspecies of Marsh rabbit, is named after him in honor of financial support that he provided.[56][57]

Hefner supported legalizing same-sex marriage and he stated that a fight for gay marriage was "a fight for all our rights. Without it, we will turn back the sexual revolution and return to an earlier, puritanical time."[58]


  1. ^ Corporate Officers. Playboy Enterprises, Inc.
  2. ^ "Hugh Hefner Biography: Producer, Entrepreneur (1926–)". (FYI / A&E Networks). Archived from the original on May 17, 2015. Retrieved June 22, 2015. ((cite web)): Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (|url-status= suggested) (help)
  3. ^ "Mr Playboy: Hugh Hefner and the American Dream". Steven Watts. Google Books. Retrieved October 10, 2009.
  4. ^ Algis Valiunas, "The Playboy and His Western World". May 2010.
  5. ^ "Hugh Hefner’s Roaring 70s". Vanity Fair. February 2001.
  7. ^ Mullen, William (August 8, 1984). "Hef". Spokane Chronicle. Retrieved July 23, 2010.
  8. ^ Roberts, Gary Boyd. "#58 Royal Descents, Notable Kin, and Printed Sources". New England Ancestors. Retrieved July 23, 2010.
  9. ^ "Mr. Playboy: Hugh Hefner tells how he created an identity in order to fulfill his dreams". Time. October 2, 2005.
  10. ^ Quintanilla, Michael (February 5, 1999). "STYLEMAKER / Hugh Hefner. The king of swingers reenters the singles scene.; Pajama Party".
  11. ^ Hugh Hefner On His Role In Fighting Segregation. (2010-07-23). Retrieved on 2012-05-03.
  12. ^ Hugh M. Hefner Playboy Enterprises. Retrieved January 2, 2009.
  13. ^ Hugh Hefner: The Ultimate Lifestyle Entrepreneur. Retrieved on 2012-05-03.
  14. ^ a b Charles McGrath (February 3, 2011). "How Hef Got His Groove Back". The New York Times.
  15. ^ Westwood Village Memorial Cemetery.
  16. ^ "Hugh Hefner, Gay Rights Pioneer",
  17. ^ Pitzulo, Carrie (2011). Bachelors and Bunnies: The Sexual Politics of Playboy. University of Chicago Press. p. 66. ISBN 978-0-226-67006-5.
  18. ^ Hugh Hefner Biography.
  19. ^ Variety, June 7, 1999
  20. ^ Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist and Rebel. (2010-12-07). Retrieved on 2012-05-03.
  21. ^ Playboy Time Line.
  22. ^ "12 Things You Never Knew About Hugh Hefner". June 25, 2015. Cosmopolitan.
  23. ^ "The Many Loves of Hugh Hefner". Fox News.
  24. ^ Acocella, Joan "The Girls Next Door", The New Yorker, March 20, 2006
  25. ^ "Faces of the week". BBC News. May 26, 2006.
  26. ^ a b Cooper Hefner.
  27. ^ Miller, Korin (January 5, 2009). "Meet Playboy founder Hugh Hefner's other girlfriend, Crystal Harris". Daily News. New York: Daily News, L.P. Retrieved January 11, 2016.
  28. ^ Miller, Korin (October 7, 2008). "'Girls Next Door's' Holly Madison splits with Playboy Hugh Hefner". Daily News. New York: Daily News, L.P. ((cite news)): Unknown parameter |accessdatedate= ignored (help)
  29. ^ Simao, Paul (December 26, 2010). "Hugh Hefner Acknowledges Engagement on Twitter". Reuters. Retrieved January 11, 2016.
  30. ^ TMZ Staff. "Crystal Harris". TMZ. Time Warner. Retrieved January 11, 2016.
  31. ^ "Cover". Playboy. July 2011. ((cite journal)): |access-date= requires |url= (help); Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  32. ^ "'Meet Mrs Hefner!': Runaway bride Crystal Harris weds Hugh in small ceremony at the Playboy mansion". Daily Mail. London: DMG Media. January 1, 2013. Retrieved January 11, 2016.
  33. ^ "'Meet Mrs Hefner!': Runaway bride Crystal Harris weds Hugh in small ceremony". Daily Mail. London: DMG Media. January 1, 2013. Retrieved January 11, 2016.
  34. ^ A New Boy for Former 'Girl Next Door'. February 10, 2009
  35. ^ Korin Miller Meet Playboy founder Hugh Hefner's other girlfriend, Crystal Harris. NYdailynews. January 5, 2009
  36. ^ Party's over for Playboy king Hugh Hefner, The Age October 18, 2008. Accessed October 30, 2008
  37. ^ Strip Scribbles: What’s next for Hef after divorce, Shannon twins?. (2010-02-15). Retrieved on 2012-05-03.
  38. ^ "Hugh Hefner Finally Files for Divorce". People. Retrieved September 9, 2009.
  39. ^ "Hugh Hefner files for divorce from wife". Reuters. September 9, 2009. Retrieved September 9, 2009.
  40. ^ "Hefner's divorce finalised in March". February 10, 2010. Retrieved November 16, 2010.
  41. ^ "Reuters: Hugh Hefner Acknowledges Engagement on Twitter". December 26, 2010. Retrieved December 26, 2010.
  42. ^ Hugh Hefner Gets Engaged During Philadelphia Blizzard on MusicMonday. December 27, 2010.
  43. ^ "Hugh Hefner's Fiancée Calls Off Wedding—Just Five Days Out!". June 14, 2011. Retrieved June 14, 2011.
  44. ^ "Playboy founder Hugh Hefner marries his "runaway bride"". Reuters. January 1, 2013.
  45. ^ "Hugh Hefner, Crystal Harris Wed at Playboy Mansion". The Hollywood Reporter. December 31, 2012.
  46. ^ D'Zurilla, Christie (January 2, 2013). "Hugh Hefner, Crystal Harris finally marry on New Year's Eve". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 18, 2013.
  47. ^ "Playboy's Hugh Hefner and son Talk Succession". The Wall Street Journal. November 29, 2012. Retrieved September 18, 2013.
  48. ^ Playboy Enterprises, Inc., "Playboy Foundation – Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Awards". Accessed 12 July 2011.
  49. ^ Hugh Hefner's Federal Campaign Contribution Report.
  50. ^ [1] Twitter.
  51. ^ a b "Hugh Hefner saves iconic Hollywood sign". London: Times Online. April 27, 2010. Retrieved December 26, 2010.
  52. ^ "The History of the Sign: 1978: A Sign is Reborn". Hollywood Sign. Retrieved December 26, 2010.
  53. ^ Hefner Gives $2M to USC Film School Associated Press, November 16, 2007.
  54. ^ "Hugh Hefner & Jenny McCarthy Fund Autism Research". Celebrity Halo. October 2008. Retrieved December 29, 2008.
  55. ^ 2010 founder’s hero of the heart Award (PDF). November 18, 2010. Retrieved May 9, 2015.
  56. ^ "My True Love Gave To Me ... A Bat Species!". CBS News. February 11, 2009. Retrieved March 30, 2012.
  57. ^ "Lower Keys Rabbit" (PDF). United States Fish and Wildlife Service. Retrieved March 30, 2012.
  58. ^ "Playboy founder Hugh Hefner writes passionate plea in support of gay marriage". August 23, 2012. Retrieved August 23, 2012.

Further reading