Hugh Hefner has during his long life achieved many things. He is a self-made millionaire businessman who has made his money mainly through founding the Playboy magazine and business empire, but he will probably always be remembered for being the original fun-loving playboy.
Underneath the hard-partying exterior that Hugh Hefner has always promoted to the public, there is a shrewd intelligence that has helped him create a globally recognized brand that at its peak was worth hundreds of millions of dollars. During his life he has seen his once alternative views on sexuality and freedom become acceptable and mainstream, and also later become somewhat out-of-touch with the new politically correct times that we live in, yet Hugh Hefner has always worked to remain relevant to the media and he has shown himself to be more that just another party loving fun-seeker. Now aged 90 Hugh Hefner has had a huge impact on modern culture, but how exactly did the king of Playboy make his millions? Read on to find out.
Hugh Hefner Net Worth 2018 – $55 Million
How Did Hugh Hefner Make His Money & Wealth?
Hugh Hefner entered the World in far more modest circumstances than you would probably expect. He was born in Chicago, on April 9th 1926 to Glenn and Grace Hefner, both school teachers who were originally from Nebraska. The Hefner family were conservative and Methodist and after high school, where Hugh was described as hard-working and intelligent, he served as a writer for a military newspaper in the army during the closing years of World War II.
In 1946 Hugh left the army and returned to education. In 1949 he graduated from the University of Illinois with a bachelor of arts degree. He began working for the mens lifestyle magazine Esquire, but in early 1952 he became disillusioned with the position due to not getting a raise. The following year Hugh took a gamble and managed to raise over $8,000, including a $1,000 dollar investment from his mom, in order to launch his own mens magazine. Originally he was going to call his fledgling publication ‘Stag Party’ but fortunately he reconsidered and instead settled on the more diplomatic title of ‘Playboy’.
In December 1953 Playboy’s first issue came out and was a huge commercial success instantly, eventually selling over 50,000 copies. The success of that first issue was no doubt largely because the magazine featured some risqué, but not explicit shots of Marilyn Monroe taken from her 1949 nude calender shoot. Playboy’s début came at a time when sex and sexual attraction were rarely, if ever discussed in public and Hefner faced much criticism for the publication, but throughout the 1950’s it continued to grow a loyal readership and increases sales.
Hugh Hefner not only achieved commercial success with Playboy, but he was also happy to take on the conventional attitudes of society at the time. In 1955 a fictional short story entitled ‘The Crooked Man’ was rejected by his former employer Esquire magazine, so Hugh picked it up and published it. The story revolved around a World where homosexuality was the norm, and the main character in it was persecuted for being straight. Playboy received many angry letters about the subject material but Hefner was keen to debate the issue, writing a response in the following issue where he pointed out that if it was wrong for homosexuals to persecute heterosexuality, then the opposite was clearly true as well.
Playboy’s success was not only due to the material it covered, it was a well produced professional publication that came to be noted for the high quality of its contents. Well written interviews with celebrities and insightful political commentary helped give an air of respectability to the magazines other more controversial elements, and as the pioneering mens magazine grew to become successful and gain an air of journalistic credibility during the repressed era of the 1950’s, the sexual revolution of the swinging sixties was a perfect period for it to become a tour de force in the new attitudes of the age.
Even as the 1960’s dawned and society changed its attitudes on permissiveness and sexuality, Playboy was often singled out for criticism due to its position in the forefront of the sexual revolution. In 1963 Hugh Hefner was arrested for obscene publications offences after an issue of Playboy published nudes of an actress. The case actually made it to trial, but eventually ended when the jury could not reach a unanimous and conclusive decision on whether Hugh was guilty of anything at all.
Playboy was by now selling more than a million copies a month, far in excess of the sales figures of Esquire and other competitors. Hugh had divorced his first wife Mildred, with whom he had a daughter Christie and a son David, and he soon developed the public persona of a sophisticated millionaire, dressed in a smoking jacket with a pipe in his hand. He mixed with the rich, famous and fashionable, particularly those of the young, female and beautiful variety, and he was soon seen by many as an iconic spokesman for the sexual revolution.
The Playboy empire soon spread beyond just the magazine. Hugh began operating high-end private clubs where hostesses, the playboy bunnies, wore rabbit ears and fluffy tails. The clubs were also racially inclusive during an era when racial segregation was legally binding, and Hugh’s activism on civil rights later gained him acknowledgement from the NAACP. The newly founded Playboy enterprises company didn’t end with Playboy clubs, hotel resorts were soon bought up, modeling agencies were created and several media groups all operated under the Playboy enterprises umbrella. Hugh appeared in television series such as ‘Playboys Penthouse’ and ‘Playboy After Dark’, where high-profile guests such as James Brown, Elle Fitzgerald and Tony Bennett chatted with Hugh about various topical issues.
In 1964 Hugh founded the Playboy foundation to support the fight against censorship and to research the impact of human sexuality, which he saw as a vital issue that had long been repressed. By the 1970’s Playboy Enterprises was at its peak. The Playboy magazine was selling seven million copies per month and making over $12 million a year, the equivalent of $70 annually today. The company went public and Hugh divided his flamboyant lifestyle between the Playboy mansion in Los Angeles and another mansion in Chicago, he frequently spent time flying around the World in his customized luxury DC-30 jet, complete with disco, bar and a large circular bed for the playboy himself.
During the early 1970’s Hugh’s wealth was estimated to be around $200 million dollars, but as the permissive sixties gave way to a new decade, attitudes began to change. By the mid seventies a new wave of more explicit magazines that were far more pornographic in nature began to gain popularity, and Playboy looked tame and somewhat dated by comparison. Sales dwindled and Hugh attempted to meet the challenge by making his magazine more explicit, with more unwholesome poses from models wearing even less, but the strategy backfired. Advertisers rebelled against the new trashier style of Playboy and sales dropped to an all time low. Eventually Playboy Enterprises dropped all involvement in the unprofitable Playboy clubs and hotels, and sold off its media companies.
In 1985 Hugh had a minor stroke, and he took it as a sign to settle down. He married for a second time, to former ‘Playmate of the Year’ Kimberly Conrad, who was thirty-six years his junior, but the marriage seemed to work well for a while. The couple had two sons, and for a while the Playboy Mansion resembled a normal family home, but the couple eventually split amicably in 1998, with Kimberly moving into a house next door to the mansion after their divorce.
Hugh handed over control of Playboy Enterprises to daughter Christie in 1988, although he remains the magazines editor-in-chief to this day. In the politically correct attitudes of recent times the Playboy brand remains a profitable and instantly recognizable brand throughout the World, and Playboy magazine, although nothing like as popular as it once was, maintains modest and profitable sales even now. In January 2017 it announced that it would once again be featuring naked models after a year-long hiatus where it experimented with more respectable content, yet once again Playboy is now going back to its controversial roots in 2017.
Hugh Hefner’s Personal Life & FAQ’s
Is Hugh Hefner Married?
Stories about Hugh Hefner’s numerous relationships have given tabloid journalists endless juicy headlines throughout his life, but now at the age of 90 Hugh Hefner has once again settled into a settled and apparently happy marriage after being involved with more beautiful women than probably even he can remember. In December 2010 he became engaged to his ‘Number one girlfriend’ Crystal Harris, who promptly broke off their engagement merely five days before their planned wedding in June 2011. However the couple eventually sorted out their differences and Hugh married for the third time on New Years Eve 2012. Hugh and Crystal’s wedding was a modest and private ceremony at the Playboy Mansion attended by a select group of family and friends. Hugh was 86 at the time, Crystal was just 26.
What is Hugh Hefner’s Salary & Annual Earnings in 2017?
Hugh’s annual income is in excess of $4 million per year. Apart from interest payments, income from rental properties and other business interests at least half his income comes from Playboy, which enriches him to the tune of approximately $150,000 per month. In 2009 Hugh detailed his spending habits in a legal case where he also disclosed that he enjoys a luxury lifestyle in numerous luxury homes that he owns in Los Angeles and elsewhere around the World, and spends at least $40,000 per month on food and entertainments.
Where Does Hugh Hefner Live?
The iconic Playboy Mansion was actually owned by Playboy Enterprises as a company asset for many years, Hugh merely rented it from his own company, but in 2016 the mansion was sold to Daren Metropoulos, the heir to a fortune and co-owner of the Hostess brand. Hugh and Crystal came as part of the property for the new owner however, at least until Hugh’s death, as a condition of the sale was that they can continue to live there until the Playboy King finally hangs up his smoking jacket for good.
Hugh Hefner’s Accomplishments, Philanthropy And Charitable Work
Hugh has not only become a cultural icon and World famous celebrity through his extravagant lifestyle and business empire, he has also been hard-working and generous in supporting those issues that are close to his heart.
Hugh has made numerous TV appearances in recent years, including a guest appearance on ‘The Simpsons’, and he also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The famous Hollywood Sign owes Hugh Hefner a big debt of gratitude too. In 2010 he donated $900,000 to a conservation group in order to help preserve the vista of the famous landmark, and in 1978 he organized fund-raising parties at the Playboy Mansion in order to restore the sign. He personally contributed 10% of the costs required by purchasing the letter ‘Y’ in a ceremonial auction.
Hugh’s anti-censorship stance saw him create the Hugh M Hefner First Amendment Award to honor those who fight to protect and enhance the values of the first amendment. Hugh also donated money to the University of Southern California to fund a course called ‘Censorship in Cinema’, as well as donating $2 million to fund a position teaching American film history.
Hugh contributes to many other charitable causes. He assists organizations such as Much Love Animal Rescue by holding fund-raising events and even has an endangered special of marsh rabbit, the Sylvilagus palustris hefneri, named after him as recognition for his efforts. In 2010 Children of the Night, the organization helping children escape prostitution awarded Hugh with its first ever Hero of the Heart award for his extensive support for the charity, and his many donations of both time and money to support the cause.
Thank you for this excellent article, profiling a man who I believe rightly deserves to be credited with establishing an enduring legacy during his highly memorable life. When I was “Bunny Deana” and “Bunny of The Year” in London, over 45 years ago now, I met Hugh Hefner and spent a little time at the original Playboy Mansion in Chicago. I got the impression at the time that he felt more comfortable watching movies and being surrounded by his old male buddies, rather like Elvis and his ‘Memphis Mafia’. Pictures of me with Hefner at the Playboy mansion and in London are among many other original photos included in my unique personal collection, “Bunny Deana’s Playboy Photo Album”, now freely available to view online.