Within five years, his erotic magazine topped a circulation of 1 million readers.
Decades later, Hefner and his Playboy brand are still some of the most recognizable names in the world.
Hefner received his fair share of criticism from many, including feminists who believed he was exploiting women. He, however, believed he was empowering them.
Throughout his life, Hefner was an outspoken activist for women’s reproductive rights, gay rights and civil rights.
Here are 11 memorable quotes to remember the late Playboy legend:
1. “Someone once asked, ‘What’s your best pickup line?’ I said, ‘My best pickup line is, ‘Hi, my name is Hugh Hefner.’”
2. “The major civilizing force in the world is not religion, it is sex.”
3. “One of the great ironies in our society is that we celebrate freedom and then limit the parts of life where we should be most free.”
4. “Well, if we hadn't had the Wright brothers, there would still be airplanes. If there hadn't been an Edison, there would still be electric lights. And if there hadn't been a Hefner, we'd still have sex. But maybe we wouldn't be enjoying it as much. So, the world would be a little poorer. Come to think of it, so would some of my relatives.”
5. “I’m very comfortable with the nature of life and death, and that we come to an end. What’s most difficult to imagine is that those dreams and early yearnings and desires of childhood and adolescence will also disappear. But who knows? Maybe you become part of the eternal whatever.”
6. “I got married before I found myself. People should find themselves before they get married.”
7. “To begin with, I fought racism, then sexism, now I'm fighting ageism. One defines oneself in one's own terms. If you let society and your peers define who you are, you're the less for it.”
8. “Life is too short to be living somebody else's dream.”
9. “If a man has a right to find God in his own way, he has a right to go to the Devil in his own way also.”
10. “A lot of people go through life never quite understanding that if things aren't as wonderful as they should be, it's their own fault.”
11. “Women are the major beneficiaries of getting rid of the hypocritical old notions about sex...Now some people are acting as if the sexual revolution was a male plot to get laid. One of the unintended by-products of the women's movement is the association of the erotic impulse with wanting to hurt somebody.”