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Hugh Hefner dies at 91

Playboy founder and editor in chief Hugh Hefner (AP Photo/Laurent Rebours)

Playboy founder and editor in chief Hugh Hefner (AP Photo/Laurent Rebours)

Hugh Hefner, the silk pajama-wearing founder of Playboy who helped escort nudity into the American mainstream, died Wednesday, the company announced. He was 91 years old.

Hefner, father of the trailblazing brand that encouraged a loosening of sexual strictures, died of natural causes in his Los Angeles home — the famed Playboy Mansion — according to a statement from Playboy Enterprises.

The consummate playboy outlived both the sexual revolution he fought for as well as some of the famous buxom pin-ups who graced his groundbreaking magazine’s centerfold.

A self-proclaimed master of marketing, Hefner’s skill for self-promotion made it impossible to untangle his image from his empire.

“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,” his son Cooper Hefner, Playboy Enterprise’s chief creative officer, said in a statement.

Playboy shattered taboos in the 1950s — a time when Hollywood sets featured separate beds for married couples — with bare-breasted pictures in a mass-market magazine whose inaugural centerfold featured a nude Marilyn Monroe. (Agence France-Presse)