Hugh Marston Hefner (born April 9, 1926) is an American magazine publisher, founder and Chief Creative Officer of Playboy Enterprises.
Working as a copywriter for Esquire, he left in January 1952, after being denied a $5 raise. In 1953, he mortgaged his furniture, generating a bank loan of $600 (or $800—he cannot recall which) and raised $8,000 from 45 investors— including $1,000 from his mother ("Not because she believed in the venture," he told E! in 2006. "But because she believed in her son") – to launch Playboy, which was initially going to be called Stag Party. The undated first issue, published in December 1953, featured Marilyn Monroe from her 1949 nude calendar shoot. Hefner, who never met Monroe, bought the crypt next to hers at the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery.
After it was rejected by Esquire magazine in 1955, Hefner agreed to publish in Playboy Charles Beaumont's science fiction short story, "The Crooked Man," about straight men being persecuted in a world where homosexuality was the norm. After receiving angry letters to the magazine, Hefner wrote a response to criticism where he said, "If it was wrong to persecute heterosexuals in a homosexual society then the reverse was wrong, too." Hefner is portrayed as a gay rights pioneer in the documentary film, Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist and Rebel.
On June 4, 1963, Hefner was arrested for selling obscene literature after an issue of Playboy featuring nude shots of Jayne Mansfield was released. A jury was unable to reach a verdict.
His former secretary, Bobbie Arnstein, was found dead in a Chicago hotel room after an overdose of drugs in January 1975. Hefner called a press conference to allege that she had been driven to suicide by narcotics agents and federal officers. Hefner further claimed the government was out to get him because of Playboy's philosophy and its advocacy of more liberal drug laws.
Hefner is in talks about making a film about his life. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for television and has made several movie appearances as himself. In 2010, he received a "worst supporting actor" nomination for a Razzie award for his performance in Miss March.
A documentary by Brigitte Berman, Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist and Rebel was released on July 30, 2010. This was reportedly the first time that Hefner granted full access to a documentary filmmaker.