Playboy founder Hugh Hefner dies aged 91

He began the international adult magazine in 1953

Playboy founder Hugh Hefner has died at the age of 91.

Playboy Enterprises Inc said he passed away peacefully at home in the early hours of this morning (September 28), from natural causes.

Hefner began publishing Playboy in his kitchen at home in 1953. It became the largest-selling men’s magazine in the world, shifting seven million copies a month at its peak.

Cooper Hefner, his son, said he would be “greatly missed by many”.

Over the years, the adult magazine interviewed huge icons including John Lennon, civil rights leader Martin Luther and Cuban revolutionary Fidel Castro.

Kim Kardashian West, who appeared on the cover of the adult magazine, was one of the first to pay tribute to Hefner. She wrote: “RIP to the legendary Hugh Hefner! I’m so honored to have been a part of the Playboy team! You will be greatly missed! Love you Hef! Xoxo”

Hefner’s adult magazine helped make nudity respectable in mainstream publications, despite emerging at a time when US states could legally ban contraceptives.

It also made him a multi-millionaire, spawning a business empire that included casinos and nightclubs.

The first edition featured a set of nude photographs of Marilyn Monroe that Hefner had bought for $200. They had originally been shot for a 1949 calendar.

Over the following decades, the magazine published nude photos of its Playboy Bunnies along with shots of stars Pamela Anderson, Kate Moss, Madonna and Cindy Crawford.

Hefner’s late-1960s talk-variety show, Playboy After Dark, hosted musical guests such as the Grateful Dead, James Brown, Linda Ronstadt and an early, pre-Buckingham-Nicks edition of Fleetwood Mac.

Apart from his talk shows Hefner made a series of cameo appearances in a number of television shows including: Fresh Prince of Bel-AirThe Bernie Mac ShowLas VegasKeeping Up with The Kardashians, Whose Line is it Anyway and the reality show Girls of the Playboy Mansion. He also made a brief appearance in the 1987 movie Beverly Hills Cop II.

The silk pyjama-clad mogul became famous for his hedonism, dating and marrying Playboy models.

In his later years he threw decadent parties at his luxurious mansions in Chicago and Los Angeles.

He claimed to have slept with more than 1,000 women, and credited the impotence drug Viagra with maintaining his libido, reports BBC News.

In 2012, aged 86, he married his third wife Crystal Harris – who was 60 years his junior.