Late one night, I was channel surfing and ran across a film starring Kirstie Alley called “A Bunny’s Tale” about the 11 days feminist Gloria Steinem spent as an undercover Playboy Bunny at the infamous Playboy Club.
My image of Hugh Hefner was solidified through a reality show called “The Girls Next Door”. In his smoking jacket and pipe along with these gorgeous, beautiful, young women living and working from his home headquarters, seared an image of this infinite playboy well in his 70’s.
Hefner’s image is exactly that…an image.
Watching Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist and Rebel, I discovered that Hefner un-apologetically showcased jazz artists, stood up for the civil rights of African-Americans and Jews and embraced new/controversial writers and cartoonists when it was not popular to do so in the 50’s, 60’s and beyond.
Hefner has lived his life and run his empire from a color-blind point of view. As well as, introducing sex to the mainstream through Playboy magazine. He believed that sex was a natural part of life and that even nice girls enjoy having sex.
Playboy Magazine (originally called Stag Party) began off of a $14,000 loan from a bank, loan company, friends and family and its first issue sold 52,000 copies. Today, its circulation is well over 7 million.
Despite criticism from journalist Mike Wallace and writer Charles Keating and in addition to Playboy Magazine, Hefner created the Playboy Jazz Festival, Playboy’s Penthouse (a late night variety show) and gave iconic writers as Alex Haley their first big breaks. He was also very outspoken regarding the Hollywood Blacklist of the 50’s of movie star Charlie Chaplin and Dalton Trumbold.
Although this film was released in 2010, it was through the Sundance Docs that I discovered this treasure. For more info on that program, please log onto www.docclub.com
Check it out, be enlightened, educated and amazed at an American Icon…Hugh Hefner.