US publisher, founder of Playboy magazine in 1953. With its centrefolds of nude women, and columns of opinion, fashion, and advice on sex, Playboy helped shape the social attitudes of the post-war generation. In the early 1960s, the huge success of Hefner's magazine led to the creation of a national chain of Playboy clubs and mansions. Its success declined in the 1980s owing to the rise of competing men's magazines and feminist protest.
Hefner produced the first issue of Playboy, featuring the famous calendar photograph of Marilyn Monroe, in 1953. It had no cover date because Hefner did not know if he could finance another edition; however, it sold 50,000 copies. By the 1960s, Playboy was selling 1 million copies a month. In 1959, Hefner presented a syndicated television show called Playboy's Penthouse and opened the first of a national chain of Playboy clubs, with ‘bunny-girl’ hostesses, and leisure resorts, in Chicago, Illinois. In the early 70s Hefner expanded into television and films. In 1985 Hefner had a stroke and control of the company passed to his daughter, Christie, although he remained the magazine's editor-in-chief, playing a key role in determining the path of Playboy Enterprises and directing other areas of the corporation.
Hefner was born in Chicago. In 1944 he joined the US Army serving as an infantry clerk and a cartoonist for US Army newspapers. He attended the University of Illinois, during which time he edited the campus magazine and produced cartoons for the Daily Illinois.
In 1949 Hefner started working for the Chicago Carton Company, and then as an advertising copywriter for the Carson, Pirie, Scott department store before joining Esquire magazine as a promotion copywriter in 1951. When the company relocated to New York City he chose to stay behind and start his own magazine. Convinced that there was a market for a men's magazine, he raised $8,000 with investments from family and friends and produced the first issue of Playboy on his apartment's kitchen table.
Hefner has also had a longstanding association with Hollywood and cinema, having supported a number of film courses at UCLAS and USC, on one of which he serves as a guest lecturer.
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