How 13 Playboy Bunnies & Models Are Remembering Hugh Hefner & His Legacy
The controversial media mogul who launched Playboy in 1953, Hugh Hefner, died on Wednesday at the age of 91. Hefner, known for wearing silk pajamas and being flanked by hordes of women, was a divisive figure. He at once represented bold progressivism and, arguably, the reductive and frustrating familiar over-sexualization of women. Some have argued over the years that Playboy simply provided fodder for the male gaze, while some believe that Hefner made room for women to take charge of their sexuality.
Marked by the iconic centerfold photo in each magazine, the first of which featured none other than Marilyn Monroe under less than great circumstances, many women credited Hefner with launching their modeling careers. Some, however, have spoken out over the years, telling of crude, stifling practices mandated for those who lived with Hefner in the infamous Playboy Mansion, located in Los Angeles. There have been reports of perfunctory group sex, strict 9 p.m. curfews, and extreme isolation.
Polarizing in life and in death, responses to Hefner's death has provided for a litany of op-eds about his legacy. Meanwhile, many current and former Playboy bunnies, models, and Playmates have taken to social media to express sadness over a death of a man many of them say they admired and respected. Below are some of the responses circling in the days immediately following his death.
Model Jenny McCarthy looked back on the media mogul with a sense of reverence.
Changed My Life
One Playboy bunny expressed her extreme dismay at the news.
Privileged To Meet Him
One Playboy bunny recalled meeting Hefner at the opening of one of the many Playboy clubs, where waitresses don the iconic bunny costume.
Not Just A Brand
A self-described retired bunny-turned-fashion-blogger credited Hefner with the chance to leave her hometown and begin her career.
London bunny Shievonne Robinson recalled fond memories working for Playboy.
On Instagram, actress and model Pamela Anderson posted a video of herself crying, along with a lengthy poem-caption about Hefner. "Everything anyone loves about me is because you understood me," she wrote.
"Part Of Such An Icon's Creation"
Taking to Instagram to commemorate Hefner, Penny Delbaugh described Hefner as "a legend."
"I am so privileged to have spent this Summer enjoying all you have created and seeing your Beautiful home," Delbaugh wrote.
Kim Kardashian West tweeted that she was honored to have worked for Hefner.
"An American Icon"
On Instagram, Cindy Crawford described Hefner as "an American Icon and a true pop culture trailblazer."
Model Adrianne Curry described "artistic freedom" at Playboy.
Seemingly every model who spoke about Hefner after news of his death circulated credited the publisher with launching her career.
Gratitude For His Kindness
"I just can't stop crying," Carmen Electra wrote on Instagram. "And I can't imagine how many bunnies are crying for u too. U are a class act and I will always have gratitude for your kindness."
There's A Lot More
Model and author Kendra Wilkinson said that her feelings were complicated and difficult to express.
For better or worse, Hefner's influence on pop culture will continue to reverberate for years to come. The Playboy iconography he established will remain a fixture in publishing history. Meanwhile, Hefner himself chose to be literally entombed near his legacy, reportedly having bought the crypt next to Marilyn Monroe's more than 20 years ago.