Wednesday, September 27, Playboy icon and founder Hugh Hefner passed away at his Hollywood home, the infamous Playboy mansion, at the age of 91.Hefner leaves behind his third wife, Crystal, four children and a legacy like no other. Known best for his freedom of expression lifestyle, young girlfriends and a magazine that changed the world, Hefner founded Playboy after leaving his job at Esquire after being denied a $5 raise.
He has been called everything from a revolutionary to a subjugator of women. Many took his magazines content and nudity, along with his lifestyle as nothing more than an expression of every mans fantasy. But nothing could be father from the truth, as Hugh Hefner was an activist for birth control for women in the 1970s, an active and vocal animal rights supporter, and donated money to various film related initiatives.
In memory of a man who was idolized by many, and criticized by equal numbers, we want to take a look at the man behind the magazine, and show that Hefner was a philanthropist above anything else. Here are 5 things you may not have known about Hugh Hefner.
He worked to end segregation.
Hefner gave many black performers opportunities others refused them, allowing them to perform in the Playboy club. He worked alongside Dr Martin Luther King and Jesse Jackson to racial equality, and once quit a job when he was asked to discriminate against black candidates (according to NYT obituary
He fought for women’s right to choose.
Hefner was a strong and vocal advocate for the legalization of birth control in the 1960’s and onward when women were not allowed to take control of their own reproductive rights. In addition, he also championed abortion rights for women in the 1960’s, publishing countless articles on the public health standpoints including the emotional and physical effects on women who were forced to seek illegal abortions and botched surgeries.
He supported the LGBTQ community.
Hefner supported the rights of gay marriage, believing that it was a ‘fight for all our rights’. Taking his first stance in 1955 with the publication of The Crooked Man by Charles Beaumont, which explored the idea of heterosexuals being persecuted in a society dominated by homosexuals, Hefner made it clear he saw no lines between sex and the rights of love and companionship. Hefner even admitted during his swinging days to bisexuality encounters.
“Without question, love in its various permutations is what we need more of in this world.” – Hugh Hefner
He was vocal about HIV/AIDS awareness
“The only thing ‘wrong’ with AIDS is the way our government responded to it. They are culpable on many, many levels,” he told The Advocate at a time when many were fearing a disease they felt was associated with homosexuality. Hefner believed that every aspect of human sexuality, including the resulting health conditions, were a concern and passion for him to address and encourage discussion an awareness.
He supported the arts.
Movie nights at the Playboy mansion are just as famous as the magazine, the girls, and those silk pajamas. But what many may not know is that Hefner was a strong supporter of film and arts, donating millions to education and film production. Some of these include $100,000 to University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts to create a Censorship in Cinema course and $2million to endow a chair for the study of American film.
Many have had their opinions and feelings regarding Hugh Hefner and the way he lived his life, and they will continue to have those opinions in his death. But no matter your opinions of those things that at the end of the day we truly have no right to have an opinion on (he hurt no one, and lived to the fullest), no one can deny the impact he has had on activism, human rights, and his desire to make the world a better place.
Rest in peace Mr. Hefner. You were loved. You will be missed.