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HUGH HEFNERHugh Hefner – January 1944

The Founder, Editor-in-Chief and Chief Creative Officer of Playboy, Hugh M. Hefner is a man who has profoundly influenced society in the last 60 years while his publication remains one of the world’s best-selling men’s lifestyle magazines. It has inspired a media empire and one of the most recognizable brands in history.

Hefner was born in Chicago on April 9, 1926, the elder son of conservative Protestant parents, Glenn and Grace Hefner, and a direct descendent of distinguished Massachusetts Puritan patriarchs William Bradford and John Winthrop. He attended Sayre Elementary School and Steinmetz High on the West Side of Chicago, where he was no more than an average student, despite a genius IQ (152). He distinguished himself instead with his extracurricular activities: founding a school paper, writing, cartooning and serving as president of the student council where he championed student causes.

Following graduation from high school in January 1944, Hef (a nickname preferred since adolescence) joined the Army, serving as an infantry clerk and drawing cartoons for various Army newspapers. After his discharge from service in 1946, he spent the summer taking art classes (anatomy, of course) at the Art Institute of Chicago, enrolling that fall at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana. Hefner earned his bachelor’s degree in two and one-half years by doubling up on classes while drawing cartoons for the Daily Illini and editing the campus humor magazine Sha