The Original Playboy

This April Hugh Hefner will be 85 years old.

The same month his fiancée will be celebrating her 25th birthday.

His involvement with much younger women is just one of the reasons he's attracted controversy and criticism his whole life.

But are we too quick to dismiss him as merely a pornographer? Former Loaded editor James Brown examines Hugh Hefner's publishing career during his most successful years, revealing how his contribution to cultural and social change is often overlooked.

A philosophy graduate with a genius IQ, Hefner founded Playboy magazine back in 1953 with a $600 loan and some naked pictures of Marilyn Monroe.

It was an instant success going on to sell 7 million copies a month.

But by 1960s the magazine was much more than just a girlie mag.

Under Hefner's strict direction Playboy presented a lifestyle.

The magazine placed itself at the forefront of the new consumer society by featuring articles on fine wine, food, fashion, cars and HIFIs.

Thanks to some heavyweight journalism there were articles on environmentalism, nuclear disarmament, anti-Vietnam sentiments and civil rights.

The publication was a champion of some of the world's most notable authors; Arthur C Clarke, Ian Fleming, Vladimir Nabokov, PG Wodehouse and Margaret Atwood are just some of the writers who had short stories published in Playboy.

The "big interview" was just as impressive - it featured an array of world famous people from movie stars to sportsmen, and from presidents to dictators.

Of course most people associate Playboy with nude photographs.

The racy pictures pushed the levels of acceptable nudity in a prudish, post-war society.

Their artistic style would influence other magazines, the fashion world and advertising but Playboy's sexual content didn't stop there.

Hefner was frustrated at what he saw as America's puritanical attitude to sex.

He made it his mission to bring about sexual liberation, regularly publishing his philosophies and attitudes on the subject.

He ended up becoming a leading figure in the sexual revolution.

This anti-establishment stance resulted in several battles with the authorities who tried to ban the distribution of Playboy.

Hefner won them all, paving the way for more liberal publishing and the relaxation of censorship.

In the 1990s' James Brown created the men's lifestyle magazine Loaded, which many called "the new Playboy." The similarities were obvious: both magazines featured men's fashion, serious journalism and of course, beautiful women.

In this documentary James Brown speaks to professors, Playboy bunnies, Hef's right hand man and a Hefner photographer to get the lowdown on the octogenarian's extraordinary life and career.

It's a rollercoaster ride through American history topped off with an exclusive interview with the man known around the world as the Original Playboy.

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This April Hugh Hefner will be 85 years old.

The same month his fiancée will be celebrating her 25th birthday.

His involvement with much younger women is just one of the reasons he's attracted controversy and criticism his whole life.

But are we too quick to dismiss him as merely a pornographer? Former Loaded editor James Brown examines Hugh Hefner's publishing career during his most successful years, revealing how his contribution to cultural and social change is often overlooked.

A philosophy graduate with a genius IQ, Hefner founded Playboy magazine back in 1953 with a $600 loan and some naked pictures of Marilyn Monroe.

It was an instant success going on to sell 7 million copies a month.

But by 1960s the magazine was much more than just a girlie mag.

Under Hefner's strict direction Playboy presented a lifestyle.

The magazine placed itself at the forefront of the new consumer society by featuring articles on fine wine, food, fashion, cars and HIFIs.

Thanks to some heavyweight journalism there were articles on environmentalism, nuclear disarmament, anti-Vietnam sentiments and civil rights.

The publication was a champion of some of the world's most notable authors; Arthur C Clarke, Ian Fleming, Vladimir Nabokov, PG Wodehouse and Margaret Atwood are just some of the writers who had short stories published in Playboy.

The "big interview" was just as impressive - it featured an array of world famous people from movie stars to sportsmen, and from presidents to dictators.

Of course most people associate Playboy with nude photographs.

The racy pictures pushed the levels of acceptable nudity in a prudish, post-war society.

Their artistic style would influence other magazines, the fashion world and advertising but Playboy's sexual content didn't stop there.

Hefner was frustrated at what he saw as America's puritanical attitude to sex.

He made it his mission to bring about sexual liberation, regularly publishing his philosophies and attitudes on the subject.

He ended up becoming a leading figure in the sexual revolution.

This anti-establishment stance resulted in several battles with the authorities who tried to ban the distribution of Playboy.

Hefner won them all, paving the way for more liberal publishing and the relaxation of censorship.

In the 1990s' James Brown created the men's lifestyle magazine Loaded, which many called "the new Playboy." The similarities were obvious: both magazines featured men's fashion, serious journalism and of course, beautiful women.

In this documentary James Brown speaks to professors, Playboy bunnies, Hef's right hand man and a Hefner photographer to get the lowdown on the octogenarian's extraordinary life and career.

It's a rollercoaster ride through American history topped off with an exclusive interview with the man known around the world as the Original Playboy.