Hugh Hefner and Playboy: The Early Years

Playboy quickly expanded into a multimillion-dollar enterprise after hitting newsstands in 1953. Hugh Hefner epitomized the lifestyle promoted in his magazine. Surrounded by beautiful women, Hefner made a name for himself as a charismatic icon and a spokesperson for sexual revolution.

15 photos
Hugh Hefner, publisher and owner of Playboy Magazine, and his girlfriend Barbara Benton, 19-year-old coed turned actress, are surrounded by Bunny Girls at the Playboy Club in London, on September 5, 1969.
The cover of Playboy's first edition, published in 1953. Image courtesy of Taschen's "Hugh Hefner's Playboy"
Amanda Martinez/AP
Playboy magazine magnate Hugh Hefner, second from left, is shown with stewardesses in bunny-style costumes as they arrive in his five-and-a-half million-dollar black jet plane in Chicago, Ill., Tuesday, Feb. 17, 1970. The private DC-9 jet includes a bedroom in the tail.
Some of the Playboy bunnies, who staged a demonstration on Wednesday, June 18, 1975 in Chicago, display their signs for all to see. The bunnies protested the clubs rules governing their social lives, and they pushed for more personal freedom.
Amanda Martinez/AP
Hugh Hefner, center, is honored in Los Angeles with the placing of his star in the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Honorary Mayor of Hollywood, Monty Hall, right, holds the rope with Hefner on Oct. 4, 1980.
Corrie Lacey/AP
Here, publisher Hugh Hefner looks over proof sheets for a 1961 issue of Playboy. Since starting publicaton in1953, circulation of his magazine had grown to more than one million in eight years.
Lennox McLendon/AP
Hugh Hefner posed with actresses Vivian Blaine (left) and Rita Hayworth in front of a replica of the Hollywood sign during a fund-raising party to save the landmark in 1978. Hefner stepped in again in 2010, donating $900,000 to stop the sign from being torn down.
An image from the 1960s from "Hugh Hefner's Playboy," published by Taschen.
Hugh Hefner during the early years of Playboy. Hefner cultivated a persona that would become inextricably linked to his creation.
Hugh Hefner and girlfriend Barbara Benton arrive in Germany in 1969. Barbi Benton was just 18 when she started dating 42-year-old Hefner. The couple lived together for eight years, during which Benton appeared on the Playboy cover four times.
Corrie Lacey/AP
Hugh Hefner opened the first Playboy Club in 1960 in Chicago, Illinois. The club introduced the first "Playboy Bunnies" -- waitresses who wore a bunny suit costume consisting of a corset, bunny ears, a collar, cuffs and a fluffy tail.
Elayne Lodge/AP
Donning his signature red-satin pajamas, here Hefner holds the first issue of Playboy, which featured actress Marilyn Monroe. The magazine has since grown into Playboy Enterprises, Inc., with a presence in nearly every medium.
Ron Galella/WireImage
Christie Hefner kissed her father at the "Special 25th Annual Awards Winners" party in 1979. Christie, the former chairwoman and CEO of Playboy Enterprises, stepped down from her position at Playboy in January 2009.
Getty Images
Playboy editor and tycoon Hugh Hefner is greeted by a group of bunny girls from his Playboy Clubs, upon his arrival at London Airport. (Photo by Dove/Getty Images)
EMPTY_CAPTION"Hugh Hefner's Playboy" is a six-volume set published by Taschen.
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