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HUGH HEFNER, FOUNDER OF PLAYBOY, DEAD AT 91

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Hugh Hefner, the founder of Playboy magazine, died Wednesday at the Playboy Mansion surrounded by loved ones, the magazine said in a statement. He was 91. He died of from natural causes, the statement read. After working first as a copywriter for “Esquire” – where he reportedly left because he didn’t get a $5 raise – Hefner decided to start his own publication and he raised $8,000 from 45 investors to launch “Playboy” in December 1953. (He had originally planned to call it “Stag Night,” but was forced to change the name to avoid trademark infringement.) It was produced in his kitchen and carried no date because he wasn’t sure there would be a second issue. But with the trademark intuition and shrewdness that seemed to always ensure his success, Hefner had acquired a nude photo of Marilyn Monroe for the centerfold, taken before the start of her film career. The magazine sold 50,000 copies, making it an immediate success.  An empire was launched, with Hefner – who divorced first wife Mildred Williams in 1959 – as its charismatic, cosmopolitan head.