Hugh Hefner died this week, at the age of 91 of natural causes. The media mogul ran an empire that spanned Playboy magazine, several reality TV shows, and a publishing arm, among other business enterprises.
Now, Rolling Stone reports that he will be buried in the crypt next to Marilyn Monroe. This is not accidental. In 1992, he purchased the crypt and plot next to hers for $75,000. Hefner told the L.A. Times in 2009 that "I'm a believer in things symbolic. Spending eternity next to Marilyn is too sweet to pass up." Monroe died in 1962 of a barbiturate overdose.
Playboy and Marilyn Monroe are seen as having a symbiotic relationship. But the truth is far more uncomfortable. The Gentlemen Prefer Blondes star appeared on the cover of the very first issue of Playboy, published in 1953. The magazine published nude photographs of Monroe that were taken in 1949, when she was an unknown actress. She agreed to pose nude for pin-up photographer Tom Kelley to earn some income. Hefner purchased the rights to use the photographs, and published them in the magazine without seeking Monroe's consent.
The publication of the nude photographs caused a scandal that threatened to end burgeoning Monroe's career. She was forced to explain that she posed for the photos when she needed money, and asked for forgiveness from the public. Rolling Stone notes that, according to her biographer, she was "embarrassed, even ashamed."
This scandal is widely seen as elevating the public profiles of both Monroe and Playboy, but we should remember that it came at the cost of having her nude photos published without her permission and having to apologize for it.