Hugh Hefner, legendary founder of ‘Playboy’ magazine, dead at 91

LOS ANGELES -- Hugh Hefner, the iconic personality behind Playboy magazine, passed away on Wednesday at age 91, his media company confirmed.

Playboy sent out a statement on Wednesday:

"Hugh M. Hefner, the American icon 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 home, The Playboy Mansion, surrounded by loved ones.  He was 91 years old."

Hugh Martson Hefner was born on April 9, 1926, in Chicago, Illinois.

Hefner began his publishing career as a copywriter for Esquire magazine before launching Playboy, according to IMDB.

The first issue of Playboy hit newsstands in 1953 and featured a nude calender photo of Marilyn Monroe. It sold for 50 cents a copy and was published without a date in case there wasn’t a second issue, according to CNN.

But the Playboy brand was a success and introduced everyday Americans to Playboy bunnies, Playmates of the Month and nude centerfolds.

To his critics, according to IMDB, Hefner said Playboy exploited sex the way Sports Illustrated exploited sports.

In 1971, Hefner moved his Chicago-based empire to Southern California where he purchased the Playboy Mansion West in Holmby Hills, which soon became notorious for its star-studded risque parties.

According to IMDB, Hefner once told Esquire magazine, he’d slept with over a thousand women.

”There were chunks of my life when I was married, and when I was married, I never cheated. But I made up for it when I wasn’t married,” Hefner told the magazine.

Kansas City had its own Playboy Club in the 60s. It sat on the top-floor ballroom of the former Continental Hotel. It was a full-service restaurant that served lunch and dinner. It also had two show rooms featuring both local and nationally known entertainers.