The actress Kat Denning remembered meeting Hugh Hefner at his famed mansion, where he was “very nice to my mom.”
Kim Kardashian said she was “honored to be part of the Playboy team.”
Larry King called him a “GIANT in publishing, journalism, free speech & civil rights.”
A visionary editor who for decades threw lavish parties at his home, the Playboy Mansion, Hefner lived a glamorous Hollywood life, sharing time and photo ops with a diverse cast of celebrities, civil rights leaders and journalists.
The memories, condolences and even some jokes that people shared after Hefner’s death reflect the complicated legacy of the founder of Playboy magazine, who died at 91.
“Wait, is it possible Hugh Hefner did good AND bad things? But… But… *robot head explodes, humans escape from robot hot tub*
– Joss Whedon (@joss) September 28, 2017”
Actress Jenny McCarthy tweeted her 1994 Playboy cover and thanked Hefner for “changing so many people’s lives, esp. mine.” While the magazine helped launch some women’s entertainment careers, it also outraged feminists who found his magazine’s depictions of women degrading.
“RIP #Hef Thank you for being a revolutionary and changing so many people’s lives, especially mine. I hope I made you proud. #PMOY 94
– Jenny McCarthy (@JennyMcCarthy) September 28, 2017”
Other former cover stars and Playmates, from Cindy Crawford to Donna D’Errico, offered tributes – and gratitude.
Crawford said on Instagram: “Remembering an American icon and a true pop culture trailblazer. Honored to be part of the @Playboy legacy alongside my friend @HerbRitts. Rest In Peace #HughHefner”
“Hugh Hefner put me in Playboy & ignited my career. I am forever indebted, Hef. You will forever live on as an icon of epic proportions. #RIP
– Donna D’Errico (@DonnaDErrico) September 28, 2017”
“Rest In Peace my dear sweet @hughhefner Forever in my heart and forever grateful for changing my life. I love you. #RIPHef
– Miriam Gonzalez (@miriamlgonzalez) September 28, 2017”
“I just found out @hughhefner died. Thank u for the time together, 2 covers& artistic freedom on my second shoot. you believed in my vision
– Adrianne Curry (@AdrianneCurry) September 28, 2017”
“Rest In Peace, dear Hef. I always considered my #playboy cover to be a defining moment in my career, and I’m so grateful to him for being present for so many of my early burlesque shows. I’ll never forget the night I came off stage and he offered me my first cover and pictorial. It was genuinely life-changing. I’ll always treasure my memories of seeing Hef and his bunnies in the audience at my shows, of movies at the mansion, and of our swing dance nights. It’s truly the end of an era. #hughhefner #hef
“A post shared by Dita Von Teese (@ditavonteese) on Sep 28, 2017”
As The Post’s Matt Schudel wrote: ”From the first issue of Playboy in 1953, which featured a photograph of a nude Marilyn Monroe lounging on a red sheet, Mr. Hefner sought to overturn what he considered the puritanical moral code of Middle America.
“His magazine was shocking at the time, but it quickly found a large and receptive audience and was a principal force behind the sexual revolution of the 1960s.”
Civil rights leader Jesse Jackson noted that the magazine editor was a “strong supporter of the civil rights movement,” a part of Hefner’s legacy that others also wanted to highlight.
In 1961, Hefner bought back Playboy club franchises that refused to admit African American members.
“We are outspoken foes of segregation (and) we are actively involved in the fight to see the end of all racial inequalities in our time,” he wrote.
“Hugh Hefner was a strong supporter of the civil rights movement. We shall never forget him. May he Rest In Peace.
– Rev Jesse Jackson Sr (@RevJJackson) September 28, 2017”
“Hugh Hefner changed the game with @Playboy, but those who idolize Heff should also remember him for his support of civil rights & the LGBT.
– Kaivan Shroff (@KaivanShroff) September 28, 2017”
Actor Rob Lowe reminisced about their “great conversations.”
“I had a number of great conversations and with Hugh Hefner. Was such an interesting man. True legend. What an end of an era!
– Rob Lowe (@RobLowe) September 28, 2017”
“One of the nicest men I’ve ever known. Godspeed, Hugh Hefner.
– Nancy Sinatra (@NancySinatra) September 28, 2017”
As an editor, Hefner commissioned articles by celebrated writers, including Saul Bellow, Norman Mailer, James Baldwin and Joyce Carol Oates.
As Schudel wrote for The Post: “Mr. Hefner brought nudity out from under the counter, but he was more than the emperor of a land with no clothes. From the beginning, he had literary aspirations for Playboy, hiring top writers to give his magazine cultural credibility. It became a running joke that the cognoscenti read Playboy ‘for the articles’ and demurely averted their eyes from the pages depicting bare-breasted women.”
“RIP Hef. Even though I only read Playboy for the articles. HA!
– Jason Perlow (@jperlow) September 28, 2017”
“I’m only on Twitter to look at the photos of #HughHefner I’m not reading the articles. #RIPHughHefner
– Simon Caine (@thismademecool) September 28, 2017”
Musician Belinda Carlisle remembered a “sweet kind man,” while Gene Simmons of KISS praised the “entrepreneur and innovator” who built a media empire from $600 of his own savings and investments from friends and family.
“woke up to the sad news of @hughhefner passing. such a sweet kind man – so lucky to have met him and work with him. #endofanera RIP Hef
– Belinda Carlisle (@belindaofficial) September 28, 2017”
“A great man, entrepreneur and innovator. Your legacy lives on. #Hef
– Gene Simmons (@genesimmons) September 28, 2017”
“1st met him months B4 #SW opened-Expected stereotyped swinger/wildman not the kind-thoughtful loyal friend he always was to ML & me #RIPHef
– Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself) September 28, 2017”
“We’ve lost a true explorer, a man who had a keen sense of the future. We learned a lot from you Mr. Hefner. #HughHefner
– Norman Lear (@TheNormanLear) September 28, 2017”
To Paris Hilton, Hefner was a “legend” and friend with whom she shared incredible memories.
“So sad to hear the news about @HughHefner. He was a #Legend, innovator, genius, one of a kind with a heart of gold. We had so many fun & incredible memories together. I will miss him dearly. Rest In Peace my friend.
“A post shared by Paris Hilton (@parishilton) on Sep 27, 2017”
Former SNL cast member Taran Killam looked back at a Halloween party at the Playboy Mansion with the ”best haunted maze,“ while actor Patton Oswalt poked some fun.
“Went to a @Playboy Halloween party. It was elaborate & sexy & odd. Best haunted maze I’ve ever seen. Anyway, this death is about me. #RIPHef
– Taran Killam (@TaranKillam) September 28, 2017”
“As per his wishes, Hugh Hefner’s body will be left in a fort in the woods for other kids to find & pass around.
– Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) September 28, 2017”
An aging Hef had become something of a self-caricature, strolling the grounds of the Playboy Mansion in silk pajamas, accompanied by a troupe of women who never seemed to turn 30.
Porn star Ron Jeremy chimed in with memories of more than two decades of parties. Ryan Seacrest said Hefner was a ”Hollywood legend who lived life to the fullest.“
“Today the world lost a legend. #HughHefner started my career. For 22 yrs I got to wish him happy new year at his mansion. I’ll miss him.
– Ron Jeremy (@RealRonJeremy) September 28, 2017”
“Rest in peace #HughHefner – he will forever be remembered as the Hollywood legend who lived life to the fullest.
– Ryan Seacrest (@RyanSeacrest) September 28, 2017”
Others drew attention to Hefner’s work in support of the First Amendment.
“RIP HF. Few did more for writers, inc myself, breaking boundaries and helping Lenny fight for his 1st Amend Rights.
– Richard Lewis (@TheRichardLewis) September 28, 2017”
With the praise also came criticism.
“#HughHefner led an extraordinary life. But beyond those great articles was the culture of objectification. 13/
– Victoria Brownworth (@VABVOX) September 28, 2017”
Subscribe to the Morning Review newsletter
Get the day’s top headlines delivered to your inbox every morning by subscribing to our newsletter.