Larry Flynt, Hustler founder and First Amendment activist, dies at 78

Larry Flynt, a tenacious and controversial entrepreneur who took several strip clubs and built them into Hustler, one of the world’s most successful sex-based brands, has died, according to multiple media outlets. He was 78. (AP Photo/Katy Winn, file)

Credit: Katy Winn

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Larry Flynt, a tenacious and controversial entrepreneur who took several strip clubs and built them into Hustler, one of the world’s most successful sex-based brands, has died, according to multiple media outlets. He was 78. (AP Photo/Katy Winn, file)

Credit: Katy Winn

Credit: Katy Winn

Shooting outside Gwinnett courthouse in 1978 left infamous publisher paralyzed

Larry Flynt, a tenacious and controversial entrepreneur who took several strip clubs and built them into Hustler, one of the world’s most successful sex-based brands, has died. He was 78.

Flynt died Wednesday at his home in Los Angeles, his brother Jimmy Flynt told The Washington Post.

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Flynt changed publishing with Hustler magazine, a lewd monthly featuring nude photos and crude, below-the-belt humor.

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Flynt’s famed legal battles — which he took to the Supreme Court — are memorialized in the film “The People Versus Larry Flynt,” starring Woody Harrelson.

Among them was an obscenity trial in 1978 in Gwinnett County, in which he was shot. The incident left him paralyzed below the waist, and he used a wheelchair the rest of his life.

While walking to his car outside the courthouse, Flynt and lawyer Gene Reeves were shot by a sniper.

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From his beginnings as an Ohio strip club owner to his reign as founder of one of the most explicit adult-oriented magazines, Flynt constantly challenged the establishment and became a target for the religious right and feminist groups.

Flynt scored a surprising U.S. Supreme Court victory over the Rev. Jerry Falwell, who had sued him for libel after a 1983 Hustler alcohol ad suggested Falwell had lost his virginity to his mother in an outhouse.

Flynt’s company produced not only Hustler but other niche publications. He owned a video production company, various websites, a Los Angeles-area casino and 10 Hustler boutiques. He also licensed the Hustler name to independently owned strip clubs.

With a fortune estimated at more than $100 million, Flynt spent his later years in the political arena. When Gov. Gray Davis was recalled by California voters in 2003, Flynt was among 135 candidates who ran to replace him. He called himself “a smut peddler who cares” and gathered more than 15,000 votes.

Flynt’s death was first reported by TMZ and confirmed by the Post and other outlets.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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