The FBI has released its archives on Playboy founder and former editor-in-chief, Hugh Hefner, two years after his death. The document consists of 58 pages and was written in 1958, five years after Hefner launched the magazine. It reveals that the U.S. intelligence service interviewed Hefner several times in the late 1950s and early 1960s about what the FBI called "obscene material." The publication revolutionized the men's magazine market. Without hiding that her main claim was the photos of, preferably famous, she targeted an intellectual audience and rivaled in texts with the best generalist publications. In its pages they signed Ernest Hemingway, John Updike, Jack Kerouac, Norman Mailer or Ray Bradbury, who published Farenheit 451 as a series in it.
In an internal communication, the then FBI director, J. Edgar Hoover, suggested that Hefner be investigated to determine if he was breaking the law. The question was whether Hefner and his photographer, identified by the FBI as Edward Oppman, used "pornographic images." Oppman regularly attended "frequent hefner's frequent last-minute parties" that "sometimes lasted all night" in his fourth-floor apartment on Chicago's Ohio Street, according to the FBI document, which found Hefner and Oppman did not break any laws. "The interviewees reported that Hefner is too smart to violate federal or local laws," read scans the investigation, published Wednesday by the British newspaper The DailyMail.
The businessman was arrested in 1963 by Chicago authorities for posting photos of actress Jayne Mansfield in bed with a man, images that were deemed "obscene." The FBI file includes newspaper clippings about Hefner's arrest. One article says that the images that led to his arrest on obscenity charges show "a woman from the films, well endowed, lying down, in varying degrees of nudity." "Our view is that mass-produced lascivia can have a debilitating and detrimental effect on a community's moral framework," a Chicago newspaper then wrote. Hefner passed the charges in a jury trial. One page from the archive reveals that a former Playboy employee left the company because he "didn't approve of Hefner's moral character" and that the man "overdrinked."
Years later, that lifestyle would end up revealing a more sinister side. At least two women have courteenedly held that they were drugged and sexually abused by actor Bill Cosby at the Playboy Mansion festivities. Hugh Hefner was personally sued as the actor's accomplice in the assault.
The most recent pages in the archive are from 2001, when the FBI says someone sent about 15,000 emails to clients from Hefner's personal email addresses and from forged accounts.
When a person of public interest dies, the FBI takes the step of publishing their file on the records website. Apparently, the agency has taken two years to process Hefner's file before it was disseminated.
Hefner is one of many celebrities, including Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra, who have been investigated over the years and whose archives are in the public interest to journalists, fans and researchers.
Hefner was born in 1926 in Chicago, Illinois, and became a millionaire after founding the influential men's magazine in early 1953. Playboy was a hit, selling 50,000 copies of its first issue, which featured Marilyn Monroe on the cover, and went on to have seven million subscribers in its sophomore year. In 1971, Hefner bought the Playboy Mansion, which became the place for Hollywood celebrities to be seen at its famous events. He was a controversial figure, he made his taste for much younger women and boasted of having slept with thousands of them.
The businessman died in September 2017 at the age of 91 at his $100 million Beverly Hills mansion. He was buried in a Los Angeles cemetery next to Monroe, on land he bought in 1992 for $75,000.