Hugh Hefner

external image playboy.gifexternal image playboy.gif

The Playboy Philosophy: "Championing the Rights of the Individual and challenging our heritage of Puritan repression."

Hugh Hefner


The Editor-in-Chief and Chief Creative Office of Playboy, Hugh Hefner, was born in Chicago to conservative Protestant parents and made his way to becoming an international sex symbol and household name by pursuing his interest in individual freedom, film and magazines. The first issue of Playboy magazine was produced on a kitchen table in Hef's South Side Chicago apartment and is now the world's best-selling men's lifestyle magazine. Playboy enterprises has grown to include TV and motion picture company, book publishing, modeling agency, a record label, a modeling agency, hotels, casinos and Playboy Clubs. The Playboy Philosophy: "Championing the Rights of the Individual and challenging our heritage of Puritan repression."

Hef's Opinion:

"I recognize that I remain--even after half a century--a controversial figure, but America has always had conflicts related to things related to sex. In other words, we remain essentially a very Puritan people. It was the Puritans who arrived on the Mayflower, and they came over to England because they were trying to escape from religious persecution, and the first thing they did was turn around and persecute the people who didn't agree with them."

"I have no plans to retire. It's the perfect combination of work and play that keeps you young. If I quit work it would be the beginning of the end for me." (May 2008)

Words from the Critics (of MANA 156):

  • Hugh Hefner displays the qualifications of a leader in his concepts of work. As the definition states, he looks for fresh approaches to old problems; seeks high risk positions, especially with high payoffs. The story of Hugh Hefner is the story of America in the midst of a great social and moral transformation--the Sexual Revolution. In the span of a few short decades, America rewrote the entire system of sexual ethics. What had once been condemned was now celebrated, and what was once unmentionable became material for mainstream conversation, entertainment, and debate. Few revolutions have been so comprehensive in scope and reach--from the personal to the political. And Hugh Hefner has been one of the major revolutionaries of our times during this period.

  • Hugh Hefner is truly an American anomaly - a figurehead for not only a company, but also a way of life. He is a social advocate, businessman, father and international icon. He demonstrates a certain level of charisma that entices a following among the American public and exhibits a high level of inspirational motivation as he truly lives out his vision and values in his everyday life. For these reasons, Hefner can be said to be a transformational leader. As the definition prescribes, Hefner relies on his personal attributes and vision instead of or in addition to his official position to manage followers. There is just something about this man, as he markets a way of life, that has developed and maintained his large audience and encouraged the extreme growth of his brand. Playboy products and clothing are sold worldwide and are bought by many who are enticed by the Playboy lifestyle. In this way, Hefner is not only selling a brand, but a way of life. It is the personal attributes and the way of life that Hefner exhibits that has made Playboy so successful.

  • The leader-member relations, the quality of interpersonal relationships among a leader and the group members, at Playboy are very strong. At Playboy, the work group has a very structured task structure, and Hef has a very strong position power as Playboy's leader. Although life at Playboy may seem like all fun and games, employees have very strict guidelines for getting their work done, and Hef leads this structure, especially in relation to Playboy magazine itself. As with any monthly publication, there are strict deadlines and great attention to detail that must be observed. Despite Hugh Hefner turning the title of CEO over to his daughter Christie Hefner, Hugh still remains at the top as Chief Creative Officer and Editor-in-Chief of Playboy magazine. Although some may consider Hef a figurehead for the company, ultimately what he says goes.

  • As a leader, Hugh Hefner has demonstrated escalation of commitment, the tendency to continue to support a failing course of action, while trying to start playboy and during Playboy's struggles in the 80s. But it was this escalation of commitment that kept the company going. Hef truly can be seen as a successful businessman, pioneer in the magazine industry, and social and political advocate. Hef was asked to speak out against the Vietnam War and is very involved in politics. He has turned Playboy into one of the world’s most recognizable brands, which has become synonymous with Hefner, sex, and fun. Hefner can be credited with the acceptance of sexual openness in American culture today. “Ironically, Hefner and Playboy became a symbol of women’s freedom to make choices. More than any other single figure in his era, he symbolized the combination of sexual liberation, material affluence and personal self-fulfillment that characterizes the modern American dream,” Watts said. It is this charismatic leadership, a leader's use of personal abilities and talents in order to have profound and extraordinary effects on followers, that has made the company so successful. Hef had a vision and he brought it to life. He has a way about him that draws people to him which he uses to encourage his followers. “With the exception of maybe one person, everyone I talked to – from past wives to people that work for Hefner – seemed to adore him,” Watts said.

  • Being a magazine designated mainly for men, many people would assume that Hugh Hefner would only want a male taking over the future of Playboy. However, Hugh Hefner clearly is able to answer the question of whether he thinks women or men lead more successfully. Hugh Hefner shows evidence that he believes women excel in positions of leadership in organizations and appreciates their decision making skills. According to the Glass Cliff, there is a growing trend where women are being placed in difficult leadership positions. This can be directly shown through Hugh Hefner because in 1982 Mr. Hefner made his daughter Christie Hefner president of his Playboy empire, then in 1988 she was made CEO of Playboy Enterprises.

Fun Facts:

  • The sale and distribution of Playboy is banned in India, mainland China, Myanmar, Thailand, Singapore and most Muslim countries. It was banned from 7-Eleven stores in the US for 14 years beginning in 1986, but has since been allowed to return to shelves.

  • The Playboy Foundation provides a $25,000 cash prize to one recipient of the Hugh Hefner Freedom of Expression award to "honor individuals who have made significant contributions in the vital effort to protect and enhance First Amendment rights for Americans."

  • The first issue of Playboy was undated because Hefner was unsure as to whether or not there would be a second issue.

  • Hef received his bachelor's degree in two and a half years by doubling up on classes while drawing cartoons for the Daily Illinois and editing the campus humor magazine, Shaft, where he initially introduced a new feature entitled "Coed of the Month."

  • Hugh Hefner is the ninth cousin of both George W. Bush and John Kerry. For the full story click here

  • The Playboy mansion has a staff of 70 individuals, including chefs, butlers, groundskeepers, maintenance, security and even zookeepers.

  • Hef has a species of rabbit, the Sylvilagus palustris hefneri, named after him.

  • Hugh Hefner was married on June 25, 1949 to Mildred Williams and they had two children: Christie born in 1952, and David born in 1955. Mr. Hefner and his wife Mildred divorced.

  • Mr. Hefner then married on July 1, 1989 and separated in 1999 to Kimberley Conrad; they have two children Cooper born 1991 and Marston born 1990.


Hef's Biography

The Real Women of Playboy

Hugh Hefner: A Playboy to the Bitter End

Interview with Hugh Hefner and Steven Watts about Watts’ book, “Mr. Playboy - Hugh Hefner and the American Dream.”