Skip to main content

The Legend of Hugh Hefner

Hugh Hefner became a legend by leading the hedonistic lifestyle of which most men can only dream. He built a publishing empire that was both taboo and respected. Hefner was somehow able to convince famous women to bare it all in Playboy between newsworthy interviews, cartoons and essays. While this was no small feat, his real gift was to elevate the girl next door to celebrity status. Hugh Hefner passed away on Wednesday, September 27, 2017 at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles at the age of 91. In keeping with his legend, it was no small coincidence that Wednesday is often referred to as "hump day."

Hefner poses in 2003, 50 years after Playboy’s first issue. (Photo: ANN JOHANSSON / Ann Johansson / Special To The Chronicle 2003)

Although Hefner's life was well publicized, one can only imagine the stories he took with him to his grave. The whispers spoken in the grotto or stories of famous people who checked in to the mansion and never seemed to check out were sealed forever in his silk smoking jacket. Hefner was the consummate playboy who lived in the limelight and knew that discretion was the better part of valor.

I suspect most men who grew up during Hefner's era remember their first Playboy magazine. It was more or less a right of passage. In fact, I still have my first one from April 1990 when Lisa Matthews was the centerfold, a term that has since vanished along with Hef's empire.

Playboy Magazine, April 1990. (Weird Long Beard Press)

I was 16 years-old and nervous as I stood in front of the magazine stand at a local delicatessen. I had ordered a sandwich, grabbed a bag of chips and took a Sports Illustrated from the rack before placing the Playboy stealthily behind it. I went to the cashier and she was a gorgeous girl not much older than me. She rang up the items and when she saw the Playboy, she paused. I can still feel how red my face was with embarrassment as she looked at me and blushed. She took the magazine behind the deli counter and asked the proprietor if I was old enough to purchase the Playboy. He looked toward me and said, "I guess if he's old enough to walk in here by himself, he's old enough to buy it." The gorgeous cashier came back and smiled and put all of my items in a bag. I walked out of the deli and was elated. I couldn't wait to look at the magazine, but I had to devour my hero sandwich first.

There were many women who became household names after appearing in Playboy. Jenny McCarthy Pamela Anderson and Anna Nicole Smith among them. The search for the next Playboy centerfold may have been a precursor to the zest of American Idol as the Playboy bus went from town to town looking for the next star. Hefner's vision was poetic. The international playboy scours the globe looking for most beautiful woman only to find she was right next door. Of course there was no one who grew up on my block that ever looked like Lisa Matthews. 

Lisa Matthews, Playboy Centerfold, April 1990. (Pinterest)



Popular posts from this blog

The Enduring Beauty of Liz Cho

Have you ever stared at a portrait of a lady for an eternity? What if eternity was measured in 10 minutes or 10 hours or 10 days? What if you saw the same picture each day for 10 years? Would it feel like eternity? Could any portrait hold you captive for that long? Perhaps if it changed ever so slightly each day, a new hairstyle, a different dress, a dash of pepper here, a pinch of salt there, would it continue to entice the palette? Imagine if the lady could speak and you could watch her expression change from mock disbelief to spontaneous laughter in an instant? Would eternity be long enough? Liz Cho, Eyewitness News, Feb. 4, 2016. I first wrote about Liz Cho in December of 2006 when she was the co-anchor of Eyewitness News at 11pm. Her bright portrait illuminated my tranquil living room each night. Those times when she was absent, there was a noticeable void like a blank space on a museum wall. I took note of one such absence in 2007 when she was on maternity leave and trium

Margaret Brennan No Longer InBusiness

I was caught by surprise last Friday when I read Margaret Brennan's farewell to the NYSE and her show on twitter. I had been a loyal follower of InBusiness since she left CNBC's retail beat to join BloombergTV in 2009. It seemed as though the show was doing well. She moved from the studio to the floor of the Exchange and her image appeared on posters in Metro North rail cars and banners strewn across city buses. According to TVNewser,  Andrew Morse , head of U.S. TV for Bloomberg, said the changes are a continuation of Bloomberg’s “evolution into a digital, multi-platform news organization.”  I suppose it only fair that in this age of disintermediation that a change to a daily TV program be reported on twitter. No indication as to where Brennan will land, but I can't imagine a bright journalist like her will be sidelined for long.  And so it would appear that the glittering money-honey path away from CNBC may not be golden after all, e.g., does anybody tun

Dave Letterman's Impact on a Homesick New Yorker

In one week dis May, we said goodbye to Don Draper, B.B. King and Dave Letterman . While I'll miss all three, Letterman's void is the widest and the deepest as I've watched him for most of my life and most of his late night career. Dave Letterman on NBC. When it was Late Night with The World's Most Dangerous Band led by the incomparable Paul Schaffer, Letterman's antics were unpredictable, unusual and darn funny. I can recall being sick one summer and it seemed the only relief was Letterman and his "crash cam," a camera mounted on a skateboard that would crash into bottles and other visually impressive obstacles that would shatter and splash. Back then it seemed like Johnny Carson was Dave's opening act. When I was at SUNY Buffalo, my roommates and I could barely afford rent much less cable or a decent TV. We'd have to shift the furniture around the living room to get reception and somehow,  The Late Show always came through clearly. We&

Little Black Dress

The curve of your back the twist of your hair that intent blue-eyed stare the little black dress and leather sandals your flat silhouette and my love handles I'm so obsessed with  your little black dress and the way it hugs your hips and the gloss you put on your lips then back in your bag beside a trendy fashion mag I'm so obsessed with your little black dress I can anticipate the sound when it shimmies from you and hits the ground. Blake Lively (Pinterest)

Who Is the Girl in the El Dorado Spa Resorts & Hotels by Karisma TV Ad?

Often times a long journey can lead you back to the beginning. Such was the case in my quest to uncover the model featured in the El Dorado Spa Resorts & Hotels by Karisma TV ad. You know the one, she's wearing a white string bikini, leaning against a four-poster bed on a sandy beach, watching a man in blue boardshorts approach. It's a stunning ad, produced by Dorn Martell from Tinsley Advertising with original music by John Jay Martyn and Jimi Ruccolo on guitar. I uncovered all of these contributors, including the voice-over-artist, Jodi Krangle, in my search for the woman in the white bikini. Katie Luddy for El Dorado Maroma What prompted me to set sail on this odyssey? While the sensuous ad targeting the luxury traveler was the vehicle, the catalyst was as ancient as Helen of Troy, desire. "I wish that was my butt," said my wife.  "Me, too," I said. But whose butt is it? A Google search led to countless other searches, taking a

My Angel Dee

I miss you so much  I keep reaching for your hand to touch, Hundreds came to pour out their love and embrace who's left with their tightest hug, Harder and harder they squeeze  trying to hold on to dear Denise whose heart they say was the kindest and whose smile seemed to remind us how much we were loved and appreciated now she is gone and we're devastated, Her kindest heart was dealt the cruelest hand and for that I can't understand why as I cry and cry until the well runs dry and fills up again to pour down like rain on an empty street  where I feel left alone until I hear her laugh when I'm called back home. Denise Ann DeBobes (1970 - 2018).

Are Bill Ritter and Liz Cho in Love?

For several weeks now, I've noticed Liz Cho of Eyewitness News hasn't been wearing her wedding ring. There was idle speculation that it may be due to weight she put on during her pregnancy, but that was months ago and she has been in fighting shape for a while. Hard to remember now, but I do think it was there when she returned after Labor Day. Of course it was clear from the start that Bill had a thing for Liz. Why not, most of us do, but what was it that put him over the edge? Does Liz actually look up to him, respect him as a venerable newsman, or is it simply the fact that work is an easy place to fall in love. During this evening's broadcast, their was a tender moment revealed when Liz finished reading the Valentine's Day Health Alert. After she said "most people do not actually pursue their ideal mate, suggesting that we often think with our hearts," Bill looked at her tenderly and said, "Who would have thought that?" and she echoed the sen

Nobody Knows Anybody. Not That Well.

Hard to believe 25 years have passed since Miller's Crossing was released. While I often think of the film, there is one line in particular that rings true, "Nobody knows anybody. Not that well." It's a line from the gangster Tom Reagan who's played by Gabriel Byrne. I once took the Amtrak from Penn Station, NY to Union Station, DC with Gabriel Byrne. We disembarked at the same time and I stood behind him in line for the taxi cabs across from our Nation's Capitol. I recall his silver metallic wheeled bag hit my foot while we were waiting and for reasons I can't fathom, I asked him if I could take his picture. He politely said no and I waited an eternity for the line to move and him to get in his cab. That line, written by the Coen Brothers, echoed in my mind the rest of the evening. "Why the heck did I ask Gabriel Byrne for a picture? I know better. I'm a New Yorker." Truth is, I don't why I did it. I don't think any of us

Top Five Famous People From Greenwich, CT

Number 5 - Kelly Rohrbach  - Sports Illustrated Swimsuit 2015 Rookie of the Year , dating Leonardo DiCaprio. Kelly Rohrbach Number 4 - Dorothy Hamill  - Olympic Gold Medal in 1976, popular haircut before Jennifer Aniston. Dorothy Hamill Number 3 - Glenn Close - Golden Globe and Emmy award winning actress, often mentioned in the same breath as Meryl Streep. Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction (1987). Number 2 - Steve Young - Hall of Fame Quarterback, Super Bowl XXIX and NFL MVP, ESPN analyst. Steve Young  Number 1 - George H. W. Bush - The 41st President of the United States of America (1989 - 1993). George H. W. Bush

A 'Twibute' to Mark Haines

On this Father's Day I can't help but think of Mark Haines , the CNBC anchor who passed away unexpectedly on May 25. I was watching that day when Carl Quintanilla read the announcement on-air and afterward I phoned my own dad to commiserate. Another reminder of him on this day is the obligatory tie often given as a gift to dads before they head off to the golf course or fire up the grill. You'll probably see many of these ties proudly displayed on Wall Street tomorrow. Even Google acknowledged this trend by incorporating one within its banner. The day Mark Haines died it was as though the financial world stood still while CNBC's on-air anchors did their best to process it and put their loss in perspective. They shared stories about him and the loving nicknames he bestowed upon them. Among the many sentiments they shared were Haines' love of the Mets and the Giants, but above all, the love he had for his family. My heart goes out to his wife, son and daughter to