Playboy founder and legendary ladies’ man Hugh Hefner has died at the age of 91, according to Playboy Enterprises.
The magazine said he “peacefully passed away today from natural causes at his home.”
Hefner’s dreams of running his own magazine began while he was working as a copy editor at Esquire in 1952, and the following year he secured enough funding to launch Playboy.
The December 1953 inaugural issue featured none other than Marilyn Monroe as its cover girl, and the magazine would go on to become a multimillion-dollar empire ― including TV series, websites, DVDs and endless licensed merchandise ― and one of the most recognizable brands in the world
His death was confirmed by his son Cooper Hefner in a statement saying:
“My father lived an exceptional and impactful life as a media and cultural pioneer and a leading voice behind some of the most significant social and cultural movements of our time in advocating free speech, civil rights and sexual freedom.
“He defined a lifestyle and ethos that lie at the heart of the Playboy brand, one of the most recognizable and enduring in history. He will be greatly missed by many, including his wife Crystal, my sister Christie and my brothers David and Marston, and all of us at Playboy Enterprises.”
Hefner is survived by his wife, Crystal, and his children Cooper, Christie, Marston and David.