Hugh Marston Hefner, the man behind the iconic Playboy magazine has passed away at the age of 91.
The famous publication confirmed the sad news on Wednesday through official statements.
The business man and reality star rose to fame after leaving his position as a copy editor for Esquire to launch his own men's magazine in 1953. The first issue of Playboy magazine hit stands featuring Marilyn Monroe has its cover girl, and that was the start of Hefner's long reign.
He has since been a prominent figure in popular culture who changed the way America and the rest of the world viewed sex. He went on to establish Playboy Enterprises, Inc., a media and lifestyle company that helped him build a multimillion-dollar empire including TV shows, licensed merchandise, websites, and more.
Up until his death, Hefner served on the board of the company alongside his son and Chief Creative Officer Cooper Hefner.
"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," said Cooper following his legendary father's death.
"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,” he added.
Beside the recognizable bunny symbol, Hefner was known for employing plenty of young women for his brand, many of whom, like Holly Madison and Kendra Wilkinson, are now celebrities in their own right. He housed them in the Playboy Mansion which he bought in 1971.
The mansion provided the setting for the E! reality show The Girls Next Door which documented the lives of Hefner and his Playmates.
Despite being surrounded by women for most of his life, Hefner admitted at the age of 85 that he never found his soulmate. Even after going through multiple divorces, the businessman didn't give up on finding love. On Dec 31, 2012, he married model and Playmate Crystal Harris.
Over the last few years, both his empire and health started to decline.
“It’s tough to watch him struggle,” Cooper told The Hollywood Reporter. “But I’m just happy it’s physical and not mental."
According to a statement from his representative, Hefner passed away "peacefully" from natural causes surrounded by loved ones at his famed mansion.
He is survived by his wife and four children.
May he rest in peace.