The famed publisher, who introduced the world to Playboy magazine in 1953, died Wednesday from natural causes at his home, The Playboy Mansion, a rep told E! News. He was 91 years old. Two of American icon's most famous ex-girlfriends—Girls Next Door stars Bridget Marquardt and Kendra Wilkinson-Baskett—were among the first to publicly express their condolences.
Hugh is survived by his wife, Crystal Hefner, and four grown children.
As Hollywood mourns his death, celebrities are continuing to share their grief via social media:
Hugh Hefner was a GIANT in publishing, journalism, free speech & civil rights. He was a true original, and he was my friend. Rest well Hef. pic.twitter.com/bJ1wxoK4gR— Larry King (@kingsthings) September 28, 2017
RIP to the legendary Hugh Hefner! I?m so honored to have been a part of the Playboy team! You will be greatly missed! Love you Hef! Xoxo— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) September 28, 2017
Hugh Hefner was a strong supporter of the civil rights movement. We shall never forget him. May he Rest In Peace. pic.twitter.com/oL3lKLZRQ5— Rev Jesse Jackson Sr (@RevJJackson) September 28, 2017
Hugh Hefner put me in Playboy & ignited my career. I am forever indebted, Hef. You will forever live on as an icon of epic proportions. #RIP— Donna D'Errico (@DonnaDErrico) September 28, 2017
RIP HF. Few did more for writers, inc myself, breaking boundaries and helping Lenny fight for his 1st Amend Rights. pic.twitter.com/Vi4iDgYdCn— Richard Lewis (@TheRichardLewis) September 28, 2017
I'm am honored that I had the privilege to be apart of the Playboy world! It was a magical time in my life.We'll miss you #RIPHughHefner— Coco (@cocosworld) September 28, 2017
We?ve lost a true explorer, a man who had a keen sense of the future. We learned a lot from you Mr. Hefner. #HughHefner— Norman Lear (@TheNormanLear) September 28, 2017
Hugh Hefner and I may not have a shared perspective on, you know, stuff BUT he was so lovely on the Playboy Mansion episode of Cesar Millan?— Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) September 28, 2017
If you were raised without a mom Hugh Hefner probably changed your life. Champion of great writing & freedom of speech & always kind to me.— Tom Arnold (@TomArnold) September 28, 2017
So saddened by @hughhefner' s passing - whatever you think of the magazine, he was smart, an entrepreneur & one of the nicest men I've met.— Adam Richman (@AdamRichman) September 28, 2017
I had a number of great conversations and with Hugh Hefner. Was such an interesting man. True legend. What an end of an era!— Rob Lowe (@RobLowe) September 28, 2017
If there's anyone who lived life to the absolute fullest it was you? I will never forget the first party I went to at your house.... you welcomed me allowed me to talk to you? And then you gave me the microphone and you let me turn up! I told you how I snuck into the Playboy Jazz Fest? And you said you don't have to sneak in anymore? And for the past 20 years I've sat next to you at the most incredible jazz fest in the world... your spirit and your energy will live forever? And I know the VIP in heaven is off the chain right now... Nothing but love and gratitude
One of the nicest men I've ever known. Godspeed, Hugh Hefner. pic.twitter.com/457cchqskO— Nancy Sinatra (@NancySinatra) September 28, 2017
Rest in peace #HughHefner - he will forever be remembered as the Hollywood legend who lived life to the fullest.— Ryan Seacrest (@RyanSeacrest) September 28, 2017
?It's good to be selfish. But not so self-centered that you never listen to other people? - Hugh Hefner Deeply saddened by this news. My prayers and thoughts are with the Hefner family?? #riphef I have met so many amazing people and friends throughout my @playboy family. Thank you Hef for all that you have done for so many people in your life. You will be greatly missed. You?re an icon and will live forever in our hearts. #playboy #missjuly2015
I met Hugh Hefner at the Playboy mansion. He was very nice to my mom. Don't ask. #RIPHef— Kat Dennings (@OfficialKat) September 28, 2017
RIP Hugh Hefner I went to so many of his parties at the Playboy mansion it was legendary you will never be forgotten— juicy j (@therealjuicyj) September 28, 2017
I just found out @hughhefner died. Thank u for the time together, 2 covers& artistic freedom on my second shoot. you believed in my vision— Adrianne Curry (@AdrianneCurry) September 28, 2017
R.I.P. Hugh Hefner ?? The American Icon who in 1953 introduced the world 2 Playboy mag and built the company into one of the most recognizable American Global brands in history , I am so grateful I had the opportunity to shoot many Playboy celebrity pictorials with u Hef?? thank u for picking me and Bringing me into the magical world of Playboy ! I just can't stop crying and I can't imagine how many bunnies are crying for u too. U are a class act and I will always have gratitude for your kindness ????love u Hef #hughhefner #playboy #icon @playboy
My condolences to the Hefner family. If anyone lived life to the fullest, it was Hugh! My thoughts & prayers are with his friends & family— RJ Mitte (@RjMitte) September 28, 2017
Thank you Hugh Hefner for being a defender of civil rights, a champion of free speech, and of course, all the boners— Ike Barinholtz (@ikebarinholtz) September 28, 2017
Dan Tuffs/Getty Images
"Hugh Hefner was a legend. I am very thankful he made me part of the Playboy family," MTV reality star Heidi Montag, who posed for the magazine in 2009, tells E! News in an exclusive statement. "Sending my prayers and love to Crystal Hefner, his sons and entire family. RIP."
Information regarding Hugh's memorial services is not available at this time.
"My father lived an exceptional and impactful life as a media and cultural pioneer and a leading voice behind some of the most significant social and cultural movements of our time in advocating free speech, civil rights and sexual freedom," son Cooper Hefner, Chief Creative Officer of Playboy Enterprises, told E! News in a statement. "He defined a lifestyle and ethos that lie at the heart of the Playboy brand, one of the most recognizable and enduring in history..."