Playboy founder Hugh Hefner died Wednesday night at the age of 91, and new photos reveal that the mogul had been suffering from poor health for quite some time. During his final months, Hefner went from relying on a walker to move around to becoming bedridden, due to a crippling back infection.
According to the reports Hefner began having back problems over a decade ago, but it wasn’t until two years ago when the infection began that things steadily got worse. His health started to deteriorate, and his immune system weakened. By the time he caught a bug two weeks ago, his body was too weak to fight it.
Hefner was reportedly surrounded by family when he passed, including his daughter Christie and sons, Marston and Cooper. Also by his side was his second wife and former Playboy playmate, Kimberly Conrad.
A photo released by TMZ that was taken back in January shows a frail Hef using a walker, which explains why he made limited public appearances over the past few years. One of his last was in May 2016 when he announced the Playmate of the Year. However, even though his public appearances were rare, he still hosted movie nights at the mansion.
Hefner’s body was laid to rest in a crypt at Westwood Village Memorial Park in Los Angeles next to Playboy’s first cover girl, Marilyn Monroe. Back in 1992, Hefner bought the spot next to the famous blonde for $75,000.
“I’m a believer in things symbolic,” Hefner told the Los Angeles Times when he made the purchase. “Spending eternity next to Marilyn is too sweet to pass up.”
He said he did not wear underwear. A look at High Hefner, the pajama man. https://t.co/56uNE6zkUw
— NYT Obituaries (@NYTObits) October 1, 2017
The story behind Monroe’s appearance in Playboy’s first issue is legendary, and the choices Hugh Hefner made when launching his controversial magazine ended up making him a success.
Monroe had posed for the nude photo four years before Hefner published it in his magazine in 1953. During the time between taking the picture and it appearing in Playboy, Monroe’s career took off, and she became famous.
Hefner bought the picture for $500 and his decision to make it his first centerfold was pure genius. Monroe also appeared on the cover fully clothed.
Many people had heard about the nude photo but hadn’t seen it because of the US Postal Service’s rules against sending nudity in the mail. When Monroe’s nude photo was available to see in Hefner’s magazine, sales went through the roof and it resulted in a wildly successful launch.
Hefner and Monroe never met, and in her memoir Marilyn: Her Life in Her Own Words by George Barris, she said that she only made fifty bucks on something that made millions for others and never got a thank you from anyone who profited from her embarrassment.