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Tuesday, April 09, 2013

April 9, 1926

For some reason, April 9 was a rather tough day to find a subject for in the Tuesday Timeline.  None of the sites that I usually visit to get ideas for Tuesday Timeline subjects really had anything of interest to talk about.  So, for this week, I had to get rather creative, and search the depths of the Internet for a subject that would even remotely get people talking.

I think I’ve managed to do it though.

Welcome to the April 9 edition of the Tuesday Timeline...and like always, we’re going to take a look at other events that took place on this date in history before getting into the real meat of the matter.  So, here’s a refresher course for all of you on April 9 history beginning with...

1413 – Henry V is crowned King of England

1440 – Christopher of Bavaria is crowned King of Denmark

1860 – Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville makes the oldest known recording of an audible human voice with a phonautograph machine

1865 – Robert E. Lee surrenders Army of Northern Virginia to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse in Virginia, putting an end to the American Civil War.

1867 – The U.S. Senate ratifies a treaty with Russia for the purchase of Alaska by a difference of one vote

1917 – Canadian Corps execute a massive assault on Vimy Ridge in the early stages of the Battle of Arras

1945 – The United States Atomic Energy Commission is founded

1957 – Egypt’s Suez Canal is cleared and opened to shipping

1965 – The Houston Astrodome opens its doors for the first time, and the first indoor baseball game is played there

1967 – The very first Boeing 737 makes its premiere flight

1991 – Georgia declares independence from the Soviet Union

1992 – Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega is found guilty of drug and racketeering charges and is sentenced to thirty years in prison

2003 – Baghdad, Iraq falls during the Invasion of Iraq, culminating in the statue of Saddam Hussein being knocked to the ground by Iraqi citizens

2005 – Prince Charles marries Camilla Parker Bowles in a civil ceremony at Windsor’s Guildhall

We also have some celebrity birthdays to mention in this space, so allow me to wish Kay Adams, Hannah Gordon, Dennis Quaid, Kate Heyhoe, Marc Jacobs, Margaret Peterson Haddix, Mark Pellegrino, Paulina Porizkova, Jeff Zucker, Cynthia Nixon, Tricia Penrose, Austin Peck, Jacques Villeneuve, Spencer Rice, Jenna Jameson, Rachel Stevens, Keshia Knight Pulliam, Yoanna House, Jay Baruchel, Ryan Clark, Jesse McCartney, Kristen Stewart, and Elle Fanning a happy birthday today!

Oh, and there’s one more birthday that I have to mention in this blog entry.  Now, depending on who you are, you may decide to wish him a happy birthday, or you may want to condemn him for being a dirty old man!  My own personal thought is that I’m gonna wish the dude a happy birthday.  I have no beef with him, and I’m sure that most men will likely have the same opinion.

The age this man is turning?  Well, he’s turning 87 today, making his date of birth April 9, 1926.

This man ended up creating one of the biggest selling magazines all over the world, and he has celebrated his success with a huge, lavish mansion that he shares with a whole bunch of beautiful bunnies.

But, I’m not exactly talking about the bunnies that you might find at a pet store or out in the wilderness.  I’m kind of referring more along the lines of these bunnies.

Playboy bunnies.

Yes, today’s blog topic is all about Hugh Hefner, the founder of Playboy magazine, who turns 87 years old today.

Now, I’m just going to come out with it right now.  The picture of the Playboy bunnies is probably the extent of how “adult” this blog will be for today.  I don’t mind talking about adult subjects, but I also want to keep this blog somewhat PG rated so that a wider audience can view it.  Therefore, if you’re expecting to see pictures of half-naked people in this blog, well, you won’t find them here.

But what you WILL find is a biography on our birthday boy, because regardless of what your feelings are towards him, his lifestyle, and his magazine, you cannot deny the fact that he has had one hell of a life and one hell of a story.

Hugh Hefner was the first of two children born to Glenn and Grace Hefner in Chicago, Illinois.  His family life was described as conservative, Midwest, and Methodist, according to Hugh himself.  After graduating from Steinmetz High School in 1944, he spent the next two years writing for a military newspaper before graduating from the University of Illinois in 1949 with a B.A. in psychology, and a double minor in art and creative writing. 

Interestingly enough, all three subjects could have been put to great use in what would inevitably become his future career...but we’re getting ahead of ourselves here.

He got a job at Esquire Magazine as a copywriter shortly after his graduation from the University of Illinois, but when he was denied a raise of five dollars, he left Esquire in 1952.  Hefner decided that if he couldn’t make it big as a copywriter for an established magazine, he would create his own!

So the following year, after getting a loan from the bank, selling and mortgaging some possessions, and getting a group of investors to fund his venture, he launched the magazine that would not only change his life, but the lives of millions of teenage boys who snuck the magazines into their bedrooms...

...not that I would know anything about that, mind you.  

Initially, the magazine was originally meant to be called “Stag Party”...but somehow that didn’t have such a nice ring to it, so the name of “Playboy” was given to Hefner’s creation instead. 

The first issue was published in December 1953 (although the publication was undated when it first came out), and the star of the issue was Marilyn Monroe.  The magazine contained photos from the 1949 calendar she posed for – and some of the shots were in the nude.  Hefner put the issue together in his own kitchen, and opted not to date the magazine as he had his doubts that there would be a second edition of the magazine.  But when the Marilyn Monroe issue sold over fifty thousand copies, Hefner knew that he had a hit on his hands.

TRIVIA:  The cover price for Playboy Magazine in 1953 was a mere fifty cents.  In 2002, near mint copies of the magazine were selling at auction for FIVE THOUSAND BUCKS!  That’s quite the increase in value!

I also have some information on how the iconic logo for Playboy Magazine (the bunny) was created.  It was designed by artist Art Paul for the second issue of the magazine.  Oddly enough, the bunny design was originally to be used in the magazine as an endnote, but soon became the official mascot of the magazine.  Hefner himself chose the bunny as a mascot because he felt that bunnies were frisky and playful...certainly adjectives that could be used to describe some of the models who posed inside the magazine.

But, you know...believe it or not, Playboy magazine was more than just Playmates of the Month and nude photos.  There were also some interesting articles and sketches included within each issue as well that got notoriety.  Mind you, nobody I knew actually remembers reading the articles, but they were there.

Just to give you an indication as to the people who contributed to the magazine’s text section, have you heard of an author named Ray Bradbury?  His novel, Fahrenheit 451 was serialized over three issues of Playboy Magazine between March and May 1954!  Shel Silverstein (of “Where The Sidewalk Ends” fame) routinely provided illustrations and cartoons that were included within the pages of Playboy Magazine.

And, can we talk about The Playboy Interview for a second?  You would be stunned to find out the huge names that Playboy Magazine have secured for an official interview over its near sixty years of publication!  Alex Haley (of Roots fame) interviewed both Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.!  Former United States president Jimmy Carter was interviewed by Playboy Magazine in 1976, where he candidly confessed to committing “adultery in his heart many times”.  And, an interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono appeared in the January 1981 issue of Playboy Magazine...which ended up being one of the last interviews that Lennon would give prior to his December 1980 death.

Here are just a few more facts about Playboy Magazine in general...

The best selling issue of Playboy Magazine to date?  November 1972, with Pam Rawlings on the cover.

Believe it or not, Playboy was the very first gentlemen’s magazine to be published in Braille!  The first issue of Braille Playboy was published in 1970.

Playboy Magazine was banned from the Republic of Ireland for thirty-six years, until 1995!

Nancy Sinatra, Samantha Fox, Debbie Gibson, Tiffany, and Belinda Carlisle all posed for Playboy at one time.  So have Kim Basinger, Drew Barrymore, Denise Richards, Shannen Doherty, and the late Farrah Fawcett.

Believe it or not, an urban legend circulated around for many years surrounding the iconic Playboy logo.  For a twenty-three year period, the “P” in Playboy had a number of stars included within it or around the letter.  It was widely believed that the stars were some form of ranking system that Hefner used to rank the Playmate of the Month!  In actuality, the stars represented the advertising region for the printing of each magazine! 

But, come on here...we all know that Hugh Hefner was (and continues to be) a ladies man.  But he wasn't always such a...well...a playboy!  His first marriage was to a woman named Mildred Williams, and the two got married in 1949.  The marriage spawned two children, Christie (who would later take over the company in the 1980s, staying in the position until 2009), and David.  The marriage lasted for ten years before breaking up in 1959, but what was interesting about it was that Mildred confessed to Hugh that she had an affair with another man before they tied the knot, which devastated Hugh completely.  In fact, Mildred reportedly felt so guilty about betraying his trust that she actually gave Hugh permission to sleep with other women while they were married!!!  

Maybe that was the catalyst that caused Hugh to morph into his bathrobe wearing, pipe smoking, bunny-chasing persona for good?  At any rate, with the divorce finalized by the time the Swinging Sixties kicked off, Hugh began dating a plethora of women.  He allegedly slept with many women over the years, and some of his most famous partners were Barbi Benton, Brande Roderick, Tina Marie Jordan, and Holly Madison.  He also would get married twice more.  He was married to Kimberley Conrad for twenty-one years, fathering two more children in the process.  But, although the marriage lasted between 1989 and 2010, the couple had been separated since the late 1990s.  He is currently married to Crystal Harris.

Crystal was 26 when she married Hefner.  Hugh himself was 86.  That would mean that Crystal is feasibly old enough to be his granddaughter!!!  Not that either one seem to care either way.

So, therefore, it may seem like it would be too easy to label Hugh Hefner with the label of 'dirty old man'.  And, in my opinion, that would be the easy way out.  Because Hugh Hefner has also done a lot of good as well, as far as I'm concerned.  Some of you might be looking at me in complete shock, but consider this.

Hugh Hefner is incredibly supportive of all marriages and unions, including gay marriages.  Some of you might not agree with his stance, but I applaud his taking a stand, as I too believe in equal rights for all.

He actually held fundraising events to preserve historic landmarks in the Hollywood area, including the revitalization of the famous Hollywood sign.  He raised $27,000 alone for the project, and even purchased the letter "Y" at an auction to ensure that the sign be preserved.  

(He was also given a Star on the Walk of Fame in 2009.)

And, Hugh Hefner is also a huge advocate in freedom of speech, and has donated millions of dollars in his fight to preserve that freedom.

All in all, not a bad track record.  With his contributions to preserving history and his support for equality, you can almost overlook the fact that he married someone sixty years younger than he is...almost.

But, he ended up building a huge empire with a simple magazine idea.  Controversy aside, he's living the American more ways than one.

Happy birthday, Hugh Hefner.

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