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Hugh Hefner
In this Oct. 13, 2011 photo, American magazine publisher, founder and Chief Creative Officer of Playboy Enterprises, Hugh Hefner poses for a photograph at his home at the Playboy Mansion in Beverly Hills, Calif. (AP Photo/Kristian Dowling)

Playboy founder Hugh Hefner has died. He was 91.


Hugh Hefner, the founder of Playboy magazine died Wednesday at the age of 91.

"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," Playboy confirmed in a statement.

Born on April 9, 1926, Hefner launched Playboy Enterprises, Inc., in 1953 -- the same year as the namesake magazine's first edition, featuring a nude Marilyn Monroe.

“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. He defined a lifestyle and ethos that lie at the heart of the Playboy brand, one of the most recognizable and enduring in history. He will be greatly missed by many, including his wife Crystal, my sister Christie and my brothers David and Marston, and all of us at Playboy Enterprises,” said Cooper Hefner, Chief Creative Officer of Playboy Enterprises.

After a divorce from his first wife Mildred Williams -- with whom he shared daughter Christie and son David -- Hefner was public about sharing intimacies with numerous women.

He purchased the legendary Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles in 1971 -- set of the six-season E! reality series documenting the lives of the Playmates and their relationship with Hefner -- and had lived there ever since.

Hefner suffered a stroke in 1985, causing his daughter to take on greater responsibility at Playboy.

Four years later, he married second wife Kimberley Conrad; the pair had two children together, sons Marston Glenn and Cooper Bradford, before divorcing in 2010.

Eleanor Mueller of Sinclair Broadcast Group contributed to this report.

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