He will be missed…
In an interview released on Monday, the publisher’s long time love — and former magazine model — Barbi Benton spoke to People about her relationship with the legend.
When the 67-year-old heard the news of his passing, she was a total “basket case.” She confessed:
“I cried all night [when I found out].”
Although she married real-estate developer George Gradow in 1979, Benton kept in touch with Hugh through the years, and even saw him six months ago.
“As he was getting older, his hearing was diminishing, and he had a hard time talking on the phone… This started a couple of years ago, so my only contact was in person.”
During their in-person meeting at the famous Playboy Mansion, the two had a rare heart-to-heart where they reminisced about old times.
“I went up to the Mansion, and rather than sit where other people were, he wanted to sit with me privately… When I was there for a party or a small get-together, I never got to talk to Hef. So we went to one of the rooms in the Mansion, and behind closed doors we had the most amazing conversation about old times… We just had a great talk… I felt like he kind of knew that it was coming to an end. When I left, he said, ‘I hope you come up and see me more often.”‘
Although the businessman was ‘in poor health,’ he was certain he had more time than he did.
“He didn’t think he was going to die anytime in the immediate future… He was upset [with reports] that said he didn’t have much time left. He said, ‘I have plenty of time left! I’m not going anywhere just yet.”‘
Even though he “wasn’t looking forward to death,” he took comfort in the fact that he was going to be buried next to fellow icon Marilyn Monroe.
“He has a plot next to Marilyn Monroe, so he was looking forward to lying next to the gal who kicked off Playboy. That’s kind of the way he looked at death ├óΓé¼ΓÇ¥ nothing could be better than his life. And even though his health had deteriorated, he was still living a good life. He still had most of his faculties.”
[Image via WENN.]