Playboy founder, Hugh Hefner dies at 91

S*x sells and Hugh Hefner found a way to sell it perhaps better than anybody in the 20th century.

The founder of Playboy and the publishing house built up around the pioneering men's magazine, which combined s*x and intellectual stimulation, has died. He was 91.

The American icon, "Hugh M. Hefner, who in 1953 introduced the world to Playboy magazine and built the company into one of the most recognizable American global brands in history, peacefully passed away today from natural causes at his Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles, surrounded by loved ones," Playboy confirmed in a statement to E! News. "He was 91 years old."

The original Playboy Mansion was actually in Chicago, however, where Hefner launched what would become his empire and, ultimately, his legacy.

Hugh Marston Hefner was born on April 9, 1926, to strict Methodist parents. The eldest of two brothers, he served two years in the Army during World War II and then went to work at Esquire as a copywriter. But by 1953, he was ready to strike out on his own in the publishing world.

Having scraped together $8,000, Hefner put together the first issue of Playboy at home and it hit newsstands in December 1953, complete with an old nude photo of screen goddess Marilyn Monroethat Hefner had purchased to add some oomph to the centerfold. The issue sold more than 50,000 copies and a publishing house was born—as was the pop culture relevance of the Playboy centerfold, which became the playground for Hef's Playmates of the Month.

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