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Hugh Hefner created the adult entertainment magazine Playboy. Today, the Playboy brand includes an extensive publishing, TV and internet empire.
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In 1963, Hugh Hefner was arrested and stood trial for selling obscene literature after an issue of Playboy featured nude photos of Hollywood actress Jayne Mansfield. The jury couldn't reach a verdict, and the charge was eventually dropped. The publicity didn't affect the reputation of Hefner or Playboy Enterprises. In 1965,
Hefner founded the Playboy Foundation to provide grants to nonprofit groups fighting censorship and researching human sexuality.
By 1970, Hugh Hefner had built Playboy Enterprises into a major corporation. The company went public, and the magazine's circulation hit 7 million copies a month, earning a $12 million profit in 1972. Hefner began dividing his time between two large mansions in Chicago and Los Angeles. When he wasn't home, he was globe-trotting in the "Big Bunny," a converted DC-30 jet complete with a galley, a living room, a disco, movie and video equipment, a wet bar, and sleeping quarters for 16 guests. The jet also featured a circular bed for Hefner himself.
In the mid-1970s, however, Playboy Enterprises fell on hard times. The United States hit a recession, and Playboy faced increasing competition from more explicit men's magazines such as Penthouse. At first, Hefner responded by "imitating the imitators" and presenting more revealing photos of women in less wholesome poses and circumstances. Some advertisers rebelled, and circulation fell even further. From then on, Hefner concentrated the company's operations on magazine publishing. Playboy Enterprises divested itself from the unprofitable Playboy clubs and hotels. At the film and record companies, budgets were slashed and payroll was reduced. The magazine kept its new photography standards but began featuring more "wholesome" exposés such as "Girls of the Big Ten" and placed a stronger emphasis on the quality and content of the writing.
In 1975, Hefner decided to make Los Angeles his permanent home so he could more closely supervise his interests in television and film production. He became involved in the restoration of the famed Hollywood sign and was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He also became immersed on Hollywood's creative community, producing such features as Roman Polanski's Macbeth and Monty Python's first film, And Now for Something Completely Different. In 1978, Hefner started the Playboy Jazz Festival, an annual event featuring some of the best jazz musicians in the world.
In 1985, Hefner suffered a minor stroke. The incident served as a wake-up call for the entrepreneur. He cut back on attending poolside parties at the mansion, and adopted a slower pace in his pleasurable pursuits. He married his longtime girlfriend, Kimberly Conrad, in 1989, and for a time, the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles reflected an atmosphere of family life. The marriage produced two sons, Marston and Cooper. The Hefners separated in 1998, and Kimberly and the two boys live on an estate next door to the Playboy Mansion.
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