The iconic first cover featured actress Marilyn Monroe
The 1st issue of Playboy was out on this day in 1953
Hugh Hefner passed away in 2017 at age 91, leaving behind the Playboy legacy he started. In December 1953, 27-year-old Hugh Hefner published the very first Playboy magazine. This first edition of Playboy was 44-pages long and had no date on its cover because Hefner wasn’t sure there would be a second edition. He would launch Playboy’s first issue with one of the most recognizable and fascinating starlets of film’s golden age gracing the cover, Marilyn Monroe. Monroe was the “Sweetheart of the Month” which was thereafter termed “playmate”. However Monroe never actually signed an agreement to be in Playboy. Before Monroe hit it big, she was in need of cash. In 1949, she posed nude for photographer Tom Kelley in exchange for fifty dollars. Kelley sold his photos of Monroe to Western Lithograph Company, which made calendars. Four years later, Monroe’s images resurfaced when Hefner purchased Kelley’s photos of Monroe with “nothing but the radio on” from the Chicago calendar maker for $500, according to the LA Times. After the publication, Monroe made the decision to do an interview in which she explained that she had been desperate for money when she posed for the nude photos. And it didn’t seem to negatively affect her career at all. She also developed a close relationship with Hefner. In that first run, Hefner sold 54,175 copies of Playboy magazine at 50 cents each. This first edition of the magazine is also the only Playboy that does not have Hugh Hefner’s name inside. On the first page, Hefner humorously wrote, “We want to make it clear from the very start, we aren’t a ‘family magazine.’ If you’re somebody’s sister, wife or mother-in-law and picked us up by mistake, please pass us along to the man in your life and get back to your Ladies Home Companion.” Copies of the first issue in mint to near mint condition can sell for over $5,000 today. The magazine played an important role in the sexual revolution and remains one of the world’s best-known brands. 64 years later the magazine has grown into Playboy Enterprises, Inc., with a presence in nearly every medium. In addition to the flagship magazine in the United States, special nation-specific versions of Playboy are published worldwide.
By Ken Warren, 2017/18
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