Photos: The life and times of Hugh Hefner

Playboy founder Hugh Hefner was 91

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 13: Hugh Hefner and The new girls next door pose for a picture at the 2009 Fox Reality Channels Really Awards held at The Music Box @ Fonda on October 13, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Toby Canham/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Playboy founder Hugh M. Hefner, the pipe-smoking hedonist who revved up the sexual revolution in the 1950s and built a multimedia empire of clubs, mansions, movies and television, symbolized by bow-tied women in bunny costumes, died of natural causes at age 91.

As much as anyone, Hefner helped slip sex out of the confines of plain brown wrappers and into mainstream conversation.

In 1953, a time when states could legally ban contraceptives, when the word “pregnant” was not allowed on “I Love Lucy,” Hefner published the first issue of Playboy, featuring naked photos of Marilyn Monroe (taken years earlier) and an editorial promise of “humor, sophistication and spice.” The Great Depression and World War II were over and America was ready to get undressed.

All photos: Getty Images