Hugh Hefner is dead at 91 years old.
The founder of the Playboy empire was rumored to be in failing health for a while, but on Wednesday (September 27) it was confirmed that the media mogul had passed away. It’s said Hugh died from natural causes.
He is survived by third wife Crystal Hefner and son Cooper Hefner, whom Hef handpicked to take over as the public face of the Playboy empire in 2012. In fact, Cooper even made an official statement about his father’s passing to The Hollywood Reporter:
“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 Enterprises.”
Hef certainly was not afraid of controversy.
He was considered by many to be a womanizer for decades. Later in life, he was accused of emotional abuse by Holly Madison, whom he dated at the same time as Bridget Marquardt and Kendra Wilkinson, as documented in the reality show The Girls Next Door.
But there’s another side of the controversy coin.
Besides being the creator and editor-in-chief of the world’s most famous men’s magazine, Hefner frequently used his platform and wealth to support various causes.
He was a longtime advocate of civil rights and free speech. His daughter Christie Hefner created the Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Award in his honor in 1979.
Hef was also an early proponent of marriage equality and other LGBT rights, speaking out on the subject as far back as 1955. We know he’ll be greatly missed.
Rest in peace, Hef.
[Image via Adriana M. Barraza/WENN.]