Hugh Marston Hefner is an American magazine publisher, founder and chief creative officer of Playboy Enterprises. In 2003, Arena magazine listed him second on the "50 Most Powerful People in Porn" list.
Hefner was born in Chicago, Illinois, the elder of two sons born to Grace Caroline and Glenn Lucius Hefner, both teachers. Hefner's mother was of Swedish descent and his father had German and English ancestry; on his father's side, Hefner is a direct descendant of Plymouth governor William Bradford. He has described his family as "conservative, Midwest, Methodist". He went to Sayre Elementary School and Steinmetz High School, then served as a writer for a military newspaper in the U.S. Army from 1944 to 1946. He later graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a B.A. in psychology with a double minor in creative writing and art in 1949, earning his degree in two and a half years. After graduation, he took a semester of graduate courses in sociology and women and gender studies at Northwestern University but dropped out soon after.
Working as a copywriter for Esquire, he left in January 1952 after being denied a $5 raise. In 1953, he mortgaged his furniture, generating a bank loan of $600 and raised $8,000 from 45 investors - including $1,000 from his mother - to launch Playboy, which was initially going to be called Stag Party. The undated first issue, published in December 1953, featured Marilyn Monroe from her 1949 nude calendar shoot. Hefner, who never met Monroe, bought the crypt next to hers at the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery.
Hefner married Northwestern University student Mildred Williams in 1949. They had two children, Christie and David. Before the wedding, Mildred confessed that she had had an affair while he was away in the Army; he called the admission "the most devastating moment of my life." A 2006 E! True Hollywood Story profile of Hefner revealed that Mildred allowed him to sleep with other women, out of guilt for her infidelity and in the hopes that it would preserve their marriage. They divorced in 1959.