Hugh Marston Hefner joined the army after graduating from high school and went on to study art at the Chicago Art Institute. He then worked for various magazines, including Esquire, but when the magazine moved its offices to New York, Hefner remained in Chicago to start his own magazine.
The first issue of Playboy magazine, featuring a now-famous photograph of Marilyn Monroe, was produced on a kitchen table in his apartment. Hitting newsstands in December 1953, it carried no cover date because Hefner was not sure when or if he would be able to produce another.
However, the first issue sold more than fifty thousand copies and thus began the impressive life of Hefner and his globally notorious magazine. Hefner has been married twice and has four children. His daughter Christie joined her father's editorial staff and now holds the title of chairman of Playboy.
Epitomising the lifestyle promoted by his magazine, Hefner has also had a long line of mistresses. His girlfriends have included several Playboy Playmates of the Year, such as Marilyn Cole, Lillian Muller and Patty MacGuire.
He announced his engagement to 24-year-old Playboy playmate Crystal Harris on Christmas Eve 2010 via his Twitter account. The 84-year-old posted an entry which read "when I gave Crystal the [engagement] ring, she burst into tears. This is the happiest Christmas weekend in memory".
The couple announced that their wedding would take place on 18 June 2011 and Hefner said that he intends for the ceremony to be an "intimate" affair with only "a close number of friends here at the mansion". However, Harris called the whole thing off only five days before they were due to wed. They have since reconciled and eventually married in December 2012.
Hefner recently hit the headlines when he made the decision to make Playboy Enterprises private. The $207 million buyout of the company gave the octogenarian full control of the company, and it was announced that Hefner would remain as editor-in-chief, while Scott Flanders was said to be maintaining his position as CEO.
Commenting on the acquisition, Hefner said: "Today marks the beginning of an exciting era for this company and our iconic brand. I believe this new ownership structure will allow us to further capitalize on the unique and global appeal of the Playboy brand."
In 2010, Hefner donated $900,000 to a conservation group, Trust for Public Land, to prevent property developers building on a site next to the iconic Hollywood sign in the hills overlooking Los Angeles. Explaining his decision, Hefner said "the sign is Hollywood's Eiffel Tower and I am pleased to help preserve such an important cultural monument".
He also purchased the crypt in the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Westwood, California beside Marilyn Monroe, so as to be interred next to her.