Casting Call: Hugh Hefner

Published August 3, 2012

In which we suggest who should star in the next big adaptation, remake, or historical film.

Entrepreneurial, exploitative, rebellious, sexist, enlightened, misogynistic, liberal, laughable, intelligent, ridiculous, successful, harmless—there are many adjectives you could ascribe to Hugh Hefner. For better or for worse, the Playboy founder has carved out a chapter for himself in modern American history. At 86, Hef’s seen better days, and it can be difficult to think of him as anything other than a dated joke, irrelevant. Once, however, Hefner and the Playboy lifestyle were emblematic of a new, postwar masculinity. In the ’60s and ’70s, Hefner was at once praised as a liberal (he publically opposed the Vietnam war) and reviled as the poster boy for the commodification of women—teaching generations of young men that breasts and blonde hair were all a women needed to be valuable—and the treatment of women working as “bunnies” in the various Playboy clubs across the world.*

Born in 1926 in Illinois, Hefner worked as a copy editor at Esquire before leaving to start Playboy in 1952 (Esquire refused to give him a raise). The first issue of Playboy, as everyone knows, contained nude pictures of Marily Monroe, taken before she entered the public eye, and bought by Hefner. The magazine was a success and the Playboy empire was born. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Warner Bros. is developing a Hugh Hefner biopic with Peter Morgan (Frost/Nixon) in talks to write the screenplay. Click through our slideshow to see who we think should play Hef, young and old, and his friends.

*See Steinem, Gloria, “I Was a Playboy Bunny,” 1963.

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