Hefner was born on April 9, 1926 in Chicago, Illinois, and went on to become a millionaire after founding the influential men’s magazine in 1953.
His death was announced on Wednesday night by the official Playboy Twitter account.
‘American Icon and Playboy Founder, Hugh M. Hefner passed away today. He was 91. #RIPHef’.
Via a statement sent to people, Hefner ‘passed away today from natural causes at his home, The Playboy Mansion, surrounded by loved ones.’
His son, Cooper Hefner, who is also the chief creative officer of Playboy Enterprises, said: ‘My father lived an exceptional and impactful life as a media and cultural pioneer and a leading voice behind some of the most significant social and cultural movements of our time in advocating free speech, civil rights and sexual freedom.
‘He defined a lifestyle and ethos that lie at the heart of the Playboy brand, one of the most recognizable and enduring in history.
‘He will be greatly missed by many, including his wife Crystal, my sister Christie and my brothers David and Marston, and all of us at Playboy Enterprises.’
Hugh Hefner began publishing Playboy magazine in his kitchen at home in 1953. Playboy became the largest-selling men’s magazine in the world, shifting seven million copies a month at its peak.
The trailblazing magazine, Playboy, helped make nudity respectable in mainstream publications and made him a multi-millionaire. It spawned a business empire that included casinos and nightclubs.
Hefner became famous for his silk pyjama-clad appearances, hence, becoming famous for his hedonistic lifestyle, dating and marrying Playboy models.
He was famous for throwing huge parties at his luxurious mansions in his later years as he grew to live with more than six Playboy mansion models.
Hugh Hefner was born into a strict Methodist family in Chicago. He rebelled, spectacularly, producing the first issue of Playboy in 1953.
The first issue of the widely acclaimed magazine was adorned with Marilyn Monroe as its first centrefold the magazine was an instant hit.
Its huge sales were driven by glossy colour pictures of nude “playmates” but it also developed a reputation for fine writing – Norman Mailer, Kingsley Amis and Ray Bradbury – were among its contributors.
Hugh Hefner lived the lifestyle portrayed in his Playboy magazine. His Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles, where he died surrounded by friends, epitomised an adolescent’s dream.
Hefner claimed to have slept with more than 1,000 women and has a reality TV show that has become more popular than any nude or sex tape.
He was attacked by feminists – accused of reducing women to sexual toys – but he styled himself as the godfather of the sexual revolution.