Hugh Hefner is a playboy— actually, he is THE original Playboy. As most people know, Hugh Hefner or ‘Hef’ as he is affectionately known, is famous for starting the world-renowned Playboy Magazine, as well as Playboy Clubs, and owner of the Playboy Mansion.
Born in Illinois on April 9, 1926, Hugh Marston Hefner transcended his modest Midwestern beginnings and became one of the most famous magazine editors in the world through his founding of Playboy Magazine in 1953. Hugh Hefner transformed the adult entertainment industry with his innovative publication that featured nude women, as monthly “Playmates” who created the concept of a centerfold, jokes, and articles that all could enjoy.
While most people know Hef as a womanizing ladies’ man, who frequently had numerous girlfriends living together at the Playboy Mansion at one time, there is much more to him than meets the eye. Here are 12 fascinating secrets you probably never knew about the original Playboy, Hugh Hefner.
12. Hef Served in the US Army
Hugh Hefner served in the US Army as a camp clerk and writer for a military newspaper at the end of WWII, after he graduated high school in Chicago, Illinois, and after graduating from high school in 1944. Hefner served two years in the Army as a noncombatant, and was formally discharged in 1946.
11. He Has Been Married 3 Times
HMH (Hugh Marston Hefner) has been married three times; in 1949, in 1989 and finally in 2012. He married Northwestern University student Mildred Williams, and divorced 10 years later in 1959. Hef married his 2nd wife, Kimberly Conrad, in 1989, and separated from her in 1998, but remained married to her for another 10 years.
Lastly, Hefner married a bride 60 years his junior, Crystal Harris, on New Year’s Eve 2012. The wedding came after Harris initially broke off their 1st engagement 5 days before their wedding in June 2011. The pair eventually reconciled, and now Harris is the only woman in Hef’s life.
10. Hef Eats All of His Meals in Bed
It is probably a surprise to hear that the Playboy Mansion has a full-service, 24-hour, gourmet kitchen that costs about $1.2 million per year. Despite having the best food in the world available at his fingertips, Hef prefers canned peas, Lipton soup, and oatmeal cookies— all served to him on a tray in bed.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner are all served to Hef in bed, on a tray by one of the Playboy Mansion butlers. Even during weekly mansion buffets, where Hefner invites his friends, family and Playmates, Hef sits with everyone but only eats when in his bedroom.
9. Hef Has Four Children
Hugh Hefner has four children from his first two marriages. With his first wife Mildred, he had two children—daughter Christie Hefner in 1952 and son David in 1955. Christie eventually took over for her father as CEO of Playboy Enterprises.
Hefner’s two youngest children came from his second marriage to Kimberly Conrad— son Marston in 1990 and Cooper in born 1991.
8. Hugh Hefner Does Not Own The Playboy Mansion
Hugh Hefner acquired the now-infamous Playboy Mansion for $1.1 million in 1971, but it is now currently owned by Playboy Enterprises, not Hefner himself. Not only has the mansion home to Hefner, his wife, children and various girlfriends throughout the years, it is also used for various corporate activities and serves as a valuable location for television production, magazine photography and for online, advertising and sales events.
Recently, Playboy Enterprises put the mansion up for sale for an estimated $200 million, with the stipulation that Hefner was allowed to stay and live in the mansion for the rest of his life.
7. He is An Avid Scrapbooker
Hefner has over 18,000 scrapbooks detailing nearly everything that has happened to him over the past 70 years, including photographs of every person who has ever visited the Playboy Mansion, been in Playboy Magazine, and every event of Hef’s life.
He began the collection as a young man, and has continued it throughout his nearly 90 years of life. Hefner’s employee, Steve Martinez, is in charge of the many volumes, and has been Hef’s full-time archivist for 22 years. The collection is stored on the third floor of the Playboy Mansion.
6. Hefner was a Civil Rights Activist
Despite being born in a time when racism and prejudice was rampant, Hefner never was exposed to that way of thinking. “No question it came from my folks. The reality is you have to be taught into being a prejudice person. And I wasn’t,” he said.
According to an interview with CBS Los Angeles, “Playboy was the first mainstream club, non-black club that actually put on stage black comedians,” Hefner said. “Even in Las Vegas Black performers that performed on, including Sammy Davis, who was a very close friend of mine, would appear on stage, but they couldn’t walk through the casino. They had to walk through the back entrance.”
The first African-American centerfold was Jennifer Jackson, in the March 1965 issue of Playboy Magazine, which was about a decade after the magazine debuted.
5. Hef Bought the Burial Plot Next to Marilyn Monroe
Did you know that Hefner is obsessed with Marilyn Monroe? Well he is! Monroe was featured on the first cover of Playboy Magazine in 1953, when Hefner purchased photos of the blonde bombshell.
Hugh Hefner also owns the burial crypt next to Marilyn Monroe at Westwood Memorial Park in Los Angeles. He bought it in 1992 for $75,000, and the plot above Monroe was sold to an anonymous bidder for $4.6 million!
4. Hefner Has a Zoo at the Playboy Mansion
The Playboy Mansion is one of the only homes in the whole of the United State of America with a private zoo license. Yes, the Playboy Mansion is not only a party palace, but a literal zoo as well.
The 5-acre property in LA’s Holmby Hills features 29 rooms, a game house, a home theater, a wine cellar, a gym, a tennis court, a swimming pool, a four-bedroom guest house, and a zoo. The private zoo is home to monkeys, cockatoos, peacocks, African cranes, parrots, toucans, pelicans, doves, rabbits and many other animals!
3. Hefner Owns Part of the Famous Hollywood Sign
In 1978, the Hollywood sign was infested with termites and on the verge of totally collapsing. Cue Hugh Hefner, who stepped up and threw a fundraiser at the Playboy Mansion to raise funds for the rebuilding costs.
Then again in 2010, 32 years after the sign was rebuilt, Hefner presented the Hollywood Sign Trust with the closing gift to ‘Save the Peak,’ to raise funds to purchase and protect the 138 acres behind the Hollywood Sign.
2. Hugh Hefner Owns Over 4,000 Movies
Hefner is a huge movie buff, even producing some of his own films when he was a teenager and young man. Due to this love of theater, he owns over 4,000 movies, and shows them at the mansion all the time.
There are three official movie nights at the Playboy Mansion: Friday nights are for classic films, Sundays for new releases, and Wednesday nights for films chosen by popular demand. During movie nights, guests are invited for a buffet dinner from the gourmet kitchen, drinks and free movies, with notes and commentary written by Hugh Hefner himself.
Every year around Hef’s birthday in April, the Playboy Mansion has a Casablanca-themed movie night, where the film is shown and everyone dresses in period costumes. Sounds fun!
1. There is a Species of Rabbit Named After Hugh Hefner
Hugh Marston Hefner, creator of the Playboy Bunny, has an actual species of rabbit named after him.
Sylvilagus palustris hefneri has the common name Lower Keys marsh rabbit, is an endangered subspecies of marsh rabbit. It was officially entered onto the endangered species list in 1990, only 6 years after being named after Hefner. These rabbits are small and short with dark brown fur and a greyish-white belly, and their tails are dark brown. How cute!