In an interview with E! News' Marc Malkin at the Applegate's Reel Food Cafe in Park City, Utah during the 2017 Sundance Film Festival Saturday, the Playboy founder's former live-in girlfriend recalled her reaction to the "scare."
"Of course, I believed the first thing I saw on Twitter, which you shouldn't do, that I did, and I freaked out," Wilkinson-Baskett said. "It really took a toll on my heart."
The 31-year-old reality star said she called the Playboy Mansion immediately and was told "he's cool."
"They didn't even hear the rumor," she said.
Hefner, 90, was last seen in a Thanksgiving family photo posted on his Twitter page in November.
"I saw him a couple of months ago and actually, it impressed me," Wilkinson-Baskett said, adding that he looked "very healthy."
Two months earlier, Hefner denied rumors he was ill.
Hugh Hefner is trending. He's not dead. He isn't chosen to be part of Trump's Cabinet. So either a Russian spy or Disney's doing his movie.— Kaung Ko (@kaungko) December 10, 2016
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Wilkinson-Baskett rose to fame as a Playboy model and star of the E! reality show The Girls Next Door with Playboy Mansion roommates and Hefner's fellow girlfriends Holly Madison and Bridget Marquardt. The show ended its six-season run in 2009, after which she continued her reality TV career with her WE tv series Kendra on Top, which features her husband, Hank Baskett, and their son Hank Jr., 7, and daughter Alijah, 2.
Wilkinson-Baskett and Hefner have kept in touch since she left his home. She told Malkin she last saw him a couple of months ago.
She also praised him as a "mentor."
It all came together," she said. "It was like my destiny to go to the Playboy Mansion."