Hef was the first global media champion of gay rights, free speech – and great writing

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Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner, who died peacefully at home in Chicago, aged 91 was much, much more than a girlie-mag publisher.

Playboy, founded in 1953, was the first widely read publication in the world to champion free speech, the civil rights movement, sexual liberation, gay rights, many other liberal causes and public issues.

He also broke boundaries for great writers. Playboy articles, on any subject, were agenda-setting – often very long and in-depth – and always of the highest quality.

With the possible exception of Esquire magazine (where Hefner had worked as a copywriter), Playboy virtually invented the modern high-quality, high-circulation glossy magazine – publishers everywhere, including New Zealand, owe him everything.

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