Hugh Hefner, the massively influential publisher and leader of the 1960s sexual revolution, died of natural causes Sept. 27 at age 91.
He is survived by his wife Crystal Harris, ex-wife Mildred Harris, partner Anna Sophia Berglund, partner Jenna Bentley, partner Kristina Shannon, girlfriend Holly Madison, girlfriend Kendra Wilkinson, girlfriend Bridget Marquardt, partner Brande Roderick, ex-wife Kimberly Conrad, girlfriend Shannon Tweed, partner Sheila Levell, partner Melissa Dawn Taylor, and many other women he was openly involved with at the same time that he was married to his three wives.
Hefner touted his pornographic magazine as "breaking barriers," which cannot be denied. In the decades since the first issue, America has discarded the norm of monogamous marriage as a lifetime commitment oriented toward family formation. Among the victims of this baneful change to which Hefner dedicated his life are the nation's 13 million single mothers and 20 million fatherless children, representing a tenfold increase in out-of-wedlock births between Playboy's launch and its progenitor's death.
While lucratively transforming human sexuality into a marketable commodity from which he could up-sell consumer goods, Hefner probably made his impact mostly on the working class. In this cohort, marriage rates have fallen by half, suicides, overdoses, and deaths from alcohol have skyrocketed, and 7 million men have totally dropped out of the workforce. Many of them have dropped out of society altogether.
Hefner, through marketing savvy, made himself a cultural icon and business partner to the powerful. Future President Trump was a guest (with his first wife) at Hefner's mansion, appeared on the cover of Playboy magazine, and appeared in a handful of Playboy videos.
Hefner, whose business ventures reached into hard-core pornography, was also predeceased by millions of victims of venereal disease including more than half a million who have died of AIDS since 1981.
His remains are to be interred at Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles, symbolically next to the plot of Marilyn Monroe, whom Hefner made the centerfold of his debut issue, without paying her and without her foreknowledge or consent.
The pornographer's legacy fittingly includes the 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, where he helped fund challenges to laws curbing abortion, since which 59 million babies have been aborted.
We hope Hefner rests in peace. But, to borrow a phrase from Lord Byron, as to lamenting his death, it will be time enough when our culture has ceased to mourn for his birth.