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{Click on Any Image to View It Full Size in a New Window}    

We pause in our review of the Raël World, to note the passing of a true ‘prophet’ and pioneer of pulchritude, Hugh Marston Hefner—without whom Raël, Mr. Skin and Celebrity Sleuth wouldn’t exist.  

“Raël and Hugh Hefner were meant to meet one day,” Raëlian News reported in April 2005. “Both share the same vision on so many issues, including sexuality and sensuality. It happened yesterday in the beautiful surroundings of the Playboy Mansion where Raël was invited.

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A few of his more revered ‘Angels’ came along—Shizué and Sophie (at far left & right above), who’ll conclude our ode to Raël’s ‘In•Her’ Circle when we resume.  

The Raëlian leader “awarded Mr. Hefner the title of ‘Honorary Priest’ and paid tribute to him for his exemplary actions breaking social taboos and participating in the evolution of our morals.”  

And upon his death, this is Celebrity Sleuth’s tribute to the man who inspired him to make a magazine.  

His hometown headline in the Washington Post said it all:

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Much like finding Playboy under his parents’ bed was for Sleuth, “the moment that forever changed Hugh’s attitude toward life and women in particular was finding out that his high school sweetheart Millie Williams had cheated on him before their 1949 marriage (below left).

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A 22-year-old virgin on their wedding night, Hefner rebounded from what he called “the most devastating experience of my life” to quit his job at Children’s Activities magazine (!) and start Playboy—with a $1,000 loan from his beloved Methodist mom Grace (above rt.)  

The iconic first issue published in Dec. 1953—which sold out instantly {a rare signed copy below left}—was laid out by the young cartoonist in their cramped apartment …

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… and featured a centerfold of rising starlet Marilyn Monroe as ‘Sweetheart of the Month’ {below left, ‘Playmate’ wouldn’t pop up till the second issue}.

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“At that point, the MM calendar was very, very famous {posed in 1949, above right},” Hef recalled a decade later, “but almost no one had seen it. It had received all kinds of publicity, but it never appeared anywhere.”  

The legendary pose for photographer Tom Kelley was commissioned by John Baumgarth, a Chicago calendar maker who “certainly wasn’t planning to use the shot again,” explained the enterprising editor. “From his point of view, he had gotten back all his initial expense in purchasing the photographs {and similar pinups}. From my point of view, however, for $500 I got the Marilyn Monroe, and for a $300 year’s contract eleven more shots!”  

Smiles the savvy salesman: “These became our Playmates for the entire first year—simply straight calendar nudes from the Baumgarth Calendar Company.”  

As one observer put it: “Hefner had an entire inaugural year of centerfolds without talking one woman, never mind Monroe, out of her clothes.”  

But while Hugh didn’t ‘get lucky’—literally—with Marilyn {“The reality is I never met her. I talked to her once on the phone”}, the two will now be together forever. “I’m a believer in things symbolic,” Hef explained after paying $75,000 a quarter century ago to purchase the plot next to the actress’ crypt in Hollywood’s Westwood Cemetery. “Spending eternity next to Marilyn is too sweet to pass up.”  

Note the leftside lipstick smooches on the stone beneath which he was laid to rest today:

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“I feel a double connection to her,” the mag mogul maintained, “because she was the launching key to the beginning of Playboy. And we were born the same year” {1926, she too would have turned 91 in 2017—just 52 days after Hef did}! “It has a completion notion to it,” he felt.  

Playboy wasn’t the first magazine to print nude photographs,” writes The Marilyn Monroe Collection. “But it was the first to print nude photographs of a well-known personality, and that made all the difference.” As the late, great Chicago film critic Roger Ebert expounded: “It legitimized nudity by embodying it in arguably the most famous woman in America. And the results are all around us, to this day.”  

Embodied in my mag and Skin’s site.  

“Though it quickly became a cliché,” feminist historian Amber Batura believes, “many male readers really did ‘read it for the articles’” … and commendably, Hef toiled tirelessly to address many unspoken injustices (below left). And amazingly, among the essays first featured in Playboy that later became books were Alex Haley’s Roots, Larry L. King’s The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Cameron Crowe’s Fast Times at Ridgemont High, John Irving’s The World According to Garp and Bob Woodward & Carl Bernstein’s All the President’s Men.

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So hands-on that his staff called him ‘the world’s wealthiest copy editor,” Hef proved that life imitated image: “Everybody was coupling with everybody,” he admitted—his affair with devoted secretary Charlaine Edith Karalus (inset above) ended his marriage after he thrice made her the centerfold (above right) … under the name ‘Janet Pilgrim.’  

She became the prototype of the ‘Girl Next Door’ image he cultivated—and her pseudonym harkened back to being raised “with a lot of repression.” Hefner’s father was an accountant {and his son later worked with figures!}, as well as a direct descendent of ‘Pilgrim’ William Bradford, the Puritan governor of the Plymouth Colony.  

Ironically, Hugh was also 9th cousin to both John Kerry and George W. Bush—who ran against each other in the 2004 presidential election!  

Another coincidence: His favorite hangout while a student at Illinois University was a bar called Bunny’s Tavern. So when Hefner established the Playboy clubs to promote hedonism after his 1959 divorce, he dubbed the waitresses ‘Bunnies” after the bar … and designed their costume as “a saucy reference to the reputation of rabbits.”

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Among those who passed through the Bunny portals as their first job were singer Debbie Harry (below left) and supermodel Lauren Hutton.

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As well as future feminist Gloria Steinem and rejected Clinton Attorney General nominee Kimba Wood.  

“I’m the boy who dreamed the dream,” Hugh would often exclaim yet, as lauded in a full page New York Times obituary, “Friends described him as both charming and shy, even unassuming, and intensely loyal.”  

That trait yours truly can attest to: Having known—unlike Hef, not biblicallyscores of Playmates in his role as a magazine editor, Sleuth can say with certainty that they have never said a bad word about the multi-millionaire maven! And many, including past romances, regularly rushed to his side for reunions.

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Indeed, the most popular Playmate of all—in terms of letters received {mainly from Vietnam vets}—August 1967’s DeDe Lind let her good friend Sleuth know, “I love Hef. He’s been just wonderful to me!” As evidenced by her coming in for a kiss at a convention.

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“I still like to pose,” DeDe declared in sending Sleuth the bedroom session at 60 above, “because I keep myself in good shape and am proud of my body.”  

And to his credit, Hefner created a whole second act for centerfolds by sponsoring their more than 30 Glamourcon signing sessions.  

More evidence of the loyalty he engendered, was that the likely “love of his life,” Barbi Benton (below left)—who left Hef for another multi-millionaire {property developer hubby of 38 years George Gradow}—remained lovingly close to her former fiancé (below right) until his death.

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“It was a candy store for men,” the heavenly Hee Haw honey recalls of the Hollywood mansion she convinced Hugh to move to from Chicago in 1975. “It was a place where celebrities could be with other celebrities—and lots of pretty girls.” With the languid lady of the house chief among them!

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And chief among the celebrity guests was a certain comedy legend: “Bill Cosby was one of the first people I met at the Mansion, shortly after I met Hef in 1968,” Barbi reveals. “It was unusual for a ‘family man’ to be at the house—especially as regularly as Cosby was.” His pregnant wife Camille was at home with their two young children while he cavorted.  

“I saw him there so many times I couldn’t count them,” Benton continues. “He would come to be intimate with this one particular girl—I am not going to name her, but I will say that she has not come out in any of the recent accusations against Cosby.”  

Which involve multiple instances of drugging and raping at the Playboy property—charges brought by Playmates, models and mansion employees. Loyal perhaps to a fault, Hef continued to stand by ‘The Cos’ of these actions.

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And he stood by our current president … when Donald Trump introduced future first lady Melania to Hef’s Holly Madison {no relation to James}.

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“It’s hard for me to tell which of these girls are yours and which ones are mine,” the reality show star stunned his host by hinting.

Nonetheless, Hef had the other 2/3 of his harem—Kendra Wilkinson and Bridget Marquardt—join the tête-à-tit.

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“I support Donald Trump,” Kendra commented during the last election, “but I also support abortion and a women’s right to choose what to do with her body” {which he, um, doesn’t}.  

At least there’s no questioning Hefner’s ‘patriotism’: At 18 he enlisted in the Army (inset below}, but differed from the Donald in preferring to grab boobs to pubes. Yet felt-up friend of Sleuth—and former fiancée of Slash—Taimie Hannum (below left) remains as big a ‘flag waver’ as any pandering politician (below right)!

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Ass news of Hugh Hefner’s passing spread Wednesday night, fittingly foxy fans gathered at his gate.

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Butt we suspect he’d prefer the tail to END like this!

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