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In Memoriam

Hugh Hefner (1926-2017)

Hugh Hefner and Benedikt Taschen in 2009.
Hugh Hefner and Benedikt Taschen in 2009.
TASCHEN is deeply saddened by the passing of our long-time collaborator and friend, Hugh Hefner. The Playboy founder was a champion of free speech, civil rights, and sexual freedom.

Hefner began publishing Playboy from his kitchen in 1953. With its candid shots of women and open discussion of sex, it helped transform social and sexual mores in the United States, at a time when states could still legally ban contraceptives. The magazine was also a pioneering intellectual force, championing gay and civil rights and regularly publishing leading writers including James Baldwin, Margaret Atwood, Norman Mailer, and Jack Kerouac. Its trailblazing interviews were at the very forefront of the social, cultural, and political agenda and included Martin Luther King Jr., Fidel Castro, and The Beatles’ John Lennon. It was this facet of Playboy that gave the leggy Bunnies a run for their money—and elevated it above, as famously coined by Tom Wolfe, “a one-handed magazine.”

Hefner never authorized any biography to his name, but trusted TASCHEN with his only illustrated coming-of-age story, a huge, six-volume edition for which he personally curated hundreds of unpublished pages from his own scrapbook, as well as some of Playboy’s spiciest centerfolds and finest writing.