Hugh Hefner, founder of Playboy magazine, legendary party boy, and silk pajama enthusiast, has passed away. In honor of his life, we've compiled several unusual and obscure facts that you might not have known about the playboy himself.
Hef is a world record holder two times over. His first world record is for longest tenure as the editor-in-chief of a magazine. His record is over 60 years of service. His second world record, believe it or not, is for the largest collection of scrapbooks. We kid you not, Hef had a collection of over 2,643 volumes. You probably wouldn't want to take too close of a look at those scrapbooks, but that is an impressive collection obtained over the course of his 91 years on this Earth.
There's no doubt that the Marilyn Monroe, the first person to ever grace the cover of Playboy, made quite an impression on Hugh Hefner, but who knew that Hef's love of the Blonde Bombshell would expand to the afterlife? After her death in 1962, Marilyn's ex-husband, Joe DiMaggio vowed to leave flowers on her grave every day and he did so, until his death in 1999. That's when Hef took up his mission himself. Now Hugh and the lovely lady he so admired will soon lay side by side in eternal slumber.
The year was 1955. Charles Beaumont was looking to publish his science-fiction short story "The Crooked Man" but was having trouble finding a magazine willing to print it in their publication. He even took the story to Esquire magazine in an attempt to sell the story, but they turned him down. The reason? The story was about how a heterosexual man fared in a world where they were the minority. The subject was extremely taboo in those days, so not many people would have been willing to publish such a risky piece. Hugh Hefner was willing to run the risk, however. After angry readers began sending Playboy letters detailing their outrage that such a story would be featured in his magazine, Hef said, "If it was wrong to persecute heterosexuals in a homosexual society, then the reverse was wrong, too." It was precisely this open attitude that made Hugh so far ahead of his time.
The iconic Hollywood sign could have been lost to the ages if Hugh Hefner hadn't come to the rescue. In 2010, developers wanted the 138 acres the sign sat on for luxury mansions. A nonprofit land-conservation group was given the chance to buy the land themselves for $12.5 million. The group had most of the money a week before the deadline but found themselves a little under a million dollars short of their goal. That's when Hef stepped in and donated the $900,000 the group needed. "It would have been a real shame after having restored it if it wound up sold," Hef told People. "It's become something iconic and represents not only the town but represents Hollywood dreams, and I think that's something worth preserving."
It wasn't the first time he'd come to the sign's rescue though. In 1978, Hugh, along with others, donated to help restore the Hollywood sign to its former glory after it had been neglected for many years.
As he grew older in age, it was no secret that Hef turned to pharmaceutical help him out in the bedroom. What's a little bit lesser known is that Hef's drug of choice, Viagra, was probably the cause of his hearing loss. Back in 2011, Hef's then girlfriends, 21-year-old twins Karissa and Kristina Shannon, told The Sun, "You have to lean down and talk into his good ear for him to understand you...We could sit right next to him and he wouldn't have a clue what we said." Some medical experts say that prolonged use of the drug has caused twice as much hearing loss in men that take it as opposed to men who don't, according to a US study cited by The Sun. Hef took the loss in stride, according to the Shannon twins. "He said he would rather have sex than have his hearing. He has hearing aids now and even then he can only hear out of one ear." That's a man who knows what he wants in life.
Although Hugh Hefner and Playboy magazine were an overnight sensation, getting started was what proved to be the hardest part. Hugh had to take out a loan with his furniture as collateral, but he was still short of his $8,000 goal. He went to his father, who worked as an accountant, for a little financial assistance, but his father, who was quite conservative, refused to give him the money he needed. Luckily for Hugh, another one of his family members stepped up to help him. "As I was departing," Hugh told AskMen, "my mother took me aside and said that she had some money of her own because she had worked during the war. She gave me a check for $1,000. That money went directly to purchasing the rights of the Marilyn Monroe calendar." And the rest, as they say, is history.
In 1984, Vanessa Williams made history. She was the first African-American woman ever to be crowned Miss America. It would prove to be a bittersweet crowning though, as she made history again as the first Miss America to ever resign her title. That quick turnaround was all because of a set of nude photos Vanessa had taken while still in college. The magazine Penthouse purchased the photos without Vanessa's consent and published them in their September issue under the headline, "Miss America: Oh, God, She's Nude!" Though Penthouse was the one to publish the photos, they were originally offered to Playboy first, but Hef refused to buy the photos, telling the photographer selling them, "The single victim in all of this was the young woman herself, whose right to make this decision was taken away from her. If she wanted to make this kind of statement, that would be her business, but the statement wasn't made by her." For a man who peddles smut, that was certainly the moral point to make.
Crystal Hefner (formerly Harris) married Hef on December 31, 2012. The two had planned to marry the year before, but Crystal called it off just days before the ceremony was scheduled to take place. Perhaps that case of cold feet was what influenced Hef to leave Crystal out of his will altogether. Crystal also signed a prenup, which likely cuts her off from most of Hef's fortune. The majority of Hef's money will go to his four children, (Cooper Bradford, Marston Glenn, David Paul, and Christie Ann), with the rest going to various charities and universities.
Hugh's mansions weren't exactly known for being child-friendly. Whenever his daughter, Christie Hefner, came to visit as a child, Hef made sure she wasn't exposed to anything untoward. New York magazine summarized an interview with Christie saying, "As a child, her main thought about her father's Chicago mansion was that it was wonderful not to have to put quarters in the pinball machines." Seems like all that cleaning up was worth it.
Other people connected with the Hefners also recalled the lengths the elder Hefner went through to keep his daughter away from his debauchery filled lifestyle. New York magazine also spoke with Gloria Steinem about the manner. "Gloria Steinem told me that Linda Lovelace, the star of Deep Throat, who also posed for Playboy, had said that 'when Christie would turn up, the mansion was cleaned up, the kinky stuff put away, and the Parcheesi board taken out.'" Although they took such care to keep Christie sheltered from the Playboy lifestyle, Christie ended up becoming the president of the company.
Back in the '60s, Hugh Hefner was definitely a divisive figure. Tons of people couldn't stand the bathrobe-clad playboy and thought his degenerate lifestyle was not only obscene, but criminally so. His opponents finally got the chance to take the alleged smut peddler to court after he published nude and semi-nude photos of actress Jayne Mansfield in his magazine. The photos, and by association the magazine, then went on trial to determine whether or not they were obscene materials or simply a matter of art. Ironically enough, the jury was hung on how to classify the photos, so the judge declared the case a mistrial and Playboy was allowed to go on as they were.
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