Playboy founder Hugh Hefner dies aged 91

The publishing mogul and former reality TV star passed away at the Playboy Mansion in Beverly Hills

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Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner has passed away in his home – the legendary Playboy Mansion – of natural causes at the age of 91.

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The announcement was made by his company Playboy Enterprises, along with a statement from his son Cooper, who added that he would be “greatly missed by many” and paid tribute to his father’s “exceptional and impactful life as a media and cultural pioneer”, calling him an advocate for free speech, civil rights and sexual freedom.

Hefner, who was renowned for donning silk pyjamas at any hour of the day,  started Playboy in 1953, and with it brought nudity to mainstream publishing. Initially reviled by conservatives in the 1950s and later, feminists, his success in the industry was undeniable. Playboy became a cultural phenomenon – it’s circulation peaked at 7 million in the 1970s.

From 2005-2010 he was the subject of reality TV show The Girls Next Door (re-titled, Girls of the Playboy Mansion in the UK), a glimpse inside the playboy mansion and the life he lead with his harem of blonde playmates.

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Tributes for the mogul have poured out on social media since the news was announced early this morning, from friends, likely attendees of the various parties at the mansion, and former cover stars including Kim Kardashian West.