A man who has lived a full life, Playboy magazine founder and publisher Hugh Marston Hefner (1926-) was born on this day in Chicago, Illinois, the eldest son of conservative Christian parents who traced their roots to the Puritans of the Mayflower.
Hef created the first issue of Playboy in 1953 on his apartment's kitchen table and published it for under $10,000. He spent $500 to buy the rights for the first centerfold--Marilyn Monroe, photographed before she was famous. The nude sprawl helped make the magazine an instant sensation. Over 50,000 copies sold.
"Playboy's message -- sex is for recreation, not just procreation -- arrived at the same historical moment as the birth control pill, and the magazine became the unofficial house organ, so to speak, of the sexual revolution," explained writer Peter Carlson in the Washington Post.
"It was never my intention to be a revolutionary," Hefner said. "My intention was to try to create a mainstream men's magazine that included sex in it. That turned out to be a very revolutionary idea."
With an openness about sexuality, the trailblazer sought to make Playboy "a little diversion from the anxieties of the Atomic Age." It worked. Playboy swiftly became the world's must-read magazine for men.
With a reported IQ of 152, Hef called Edgar Allen Poe and F. Scott Fitzgerald his favorite writers and has a species of rabbit named in his honor, Sylvilagus palustris hefneri.
The world's greatest party-giver once told Vanity Fair magazine that the talent he would most like to have is "to sing like Frank Sinatra."
Today Playboy Enterprises, Inc. sells multimedia entertainment to hundreds of countries worldwide. Playboy remains America's best-selling men's magazine, selling millions of copies monthly.
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