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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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Since the mid-1980s, Hefner's daughter, Christie Hefner, had been working with the editorial staff of Playboy magazine. In 1988, Hefner turned over control of Playboy Enterprises to Christie, naming her chair and chief executive officer. She also served as the magazine's editor-in-chief and played a key role in directing Playboy Enterprises' ventures in cable television, video production,
and online programming. Christie Hefner stepped down from her position at Playboy Enterprises in January 2009.
Since the 1990s, Hugh Hefner has devoted much of his time to philanthropy and civic projects. He directed the Playboy Foundation to institute the Freedom of Expression Award, given annually at the Sundance Film Festival. Hefner also personally endowed the "Censorship in the Cinema" course at the University of Southern California where he is a guest lecturer, and has been a major contributor to the efforts of the UCLA Film and Television Archive to restore classic films. He also sponsored the American Cinema series on PBS.
Hefner has also received numerous awards for his contributions to society and the publishing industry. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the American Society of Magazine Editors in 1998. In 2002, Hefner received the Henry Johnson Fisher Award, the highest honor of the Magazine Publishers of America. Also in 2002, he was inducted as an honorary member of the Harvard Lampoon, which named him "Harvard Lampoon's Best Life-Form in the History of the Universe."
The year 2005 brought the premiere of The Girls Next Door, a reality series focusing on the lives of Hefner and his girlfriends at the Playboy Mansion, on the E! cable television network. Co-created by Hefner, the show's early seasons featured three of Hefner's former girlfriends, Holly Madison, Bridget Marquardt and Kendra Wilkinson, with later seasons featuring twins Kristina and Karissa Shannon, and Crystal Harris, who would later become engaged to Hefner. True to form, the series serves as a promotional vehicle for many of Hefner's projects and enterprises.
The 2009 season finale of Girls Next Door chronicled more changes in Hefner's life, as Marquardt left the mansion to begin her own TV series. Wilkinson left soon after, pursuing a relationship with NFL player Hank Baskett. Madison also vacated the mansion, unhappy about Hefner's lack of commitment to their relationship.
In recent years, Hefner has reportedly been in talks to create a biopic about his life. Director Brett Ratner has been linked to the film, and several major stars have been named as prospects for the lead role including Tom Cruise, Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert Downey Jr.
Hefner and playmate Crystal Harris became engaged in December 2010. Not long after, in June 2011, the couple made headlines when Harris called off the engagement. Hefner and Harris were back in the public eye in December 2012, after announcing their re-engagement. The couple tied the knot at a ceremony at Hefner's Playboy Mansion on New Year's Eve in 2012. After the ceremony, 86-year-old Hefner tweeted: "Happy New Year from Mr. and Mrs. Hugh Hefner" with a photo of himself and his 26-year-old bride.
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