Hugh Hefner, founder of the international adult magazine Playboy, has died at the age of 91.
Playboy Enterprises Inc said he passed away peacefully at home, 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”.
He paid tribute to his father’s “exceptional and impactful life as a media and cultural pioneer,” and called him an advocate for free speech, civil rights and sexual freedom.
Hefner’s trailblazing magazine helped make nudity respectable in mainstream publications and made him a multi-millionaire. It spawned a business empire that included casinos and nightclubs.
The silk pyjama-clad mogul became famous for his hedonistic lifestyle, dating and marrying Playboy models. In his later years he threw huge parties at his luxurious mansions.
He claimed to have slept with more than 1,000 women, and credited the impotence drug Viagra with maintaining his libido.
From 2005-10, a reality TV show called “The Girls Next Door” showcased Hefner’s libertine lifestyle – and the harem of young blonde women who shared it.
In 2012, aged 86, he married his third wife Crystal Harris – who was 60 years his junior.
Analysis: Loved and loathed, a rebel who lived his dreams
By James Cook, BBC Los Angeles Correspondent
Hugh Hefner was born into a strict Methodist family in Chicago. He rebelled, spectacularly, producing the first issue of Playboy in 1953. With Marilyn Monroe as its first centrefold the magazine was an instant hit.
Its huge sales were driven by glossy colour pictures of nude “playmates” but it also developed a reputation for fine writing – Norman Mailer, Kingsley Amis and Ray Bradbury – were among its contributors.
Hugh Hefner lived the lifestyle portrayed in the magazine. His Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles, where he died surrounded by friends, epitomised an adolescent’s dream.
He was attacked by feminists – accused of reducing women to sexual toys – but he styled himself as the godfather of the sexual revolution.
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