Status
Ended
Network
Amazon
SEASON
EPISODE

Documentary

DESCRIPTION

A fascinating docuseries chronicling Playboy magazine’s charismatic founder, Hugh Hefner, and his impact on global culture. Told from his unique perspective with never-before-seen footage from his private archive, discover the captivating story about the man behind the bunny.

Season 1

Aired 4 months ago - Apr 07, 2017

With Playboy on the brink of bankruptcy, Hefner sacrifices friends and leans on family to secure the brand's future.

After the death of Bobbie Arnstein, Hugh Hefner retreats permanently to his Los Angeles mansion, only to face the murder of Playmate Dorothy Stratten.

Aired 4 months ago - Apr 07, 2017

Hugh Hefner's secretary and close friend, Bobbie Arnstein, finds herself at the center of a conspiracy to take down the Playboy empire and her loyalty to Hefner proves deadly.

Aired 4 months ago - Apr 07, 2017

While Hugh Hefner finds love and success in Hollywood, Playboy fights Penthouse in the pubic wars.

Recap of American Playboy: The Hugh Hefner Story Season 1 Episode 7 (S01E07) - 1
He said the plane should be painted black...
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♪ Will it go 'round in circles? ♪
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It can go all the way from light to grey to total blackness.
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At 44 he's unquestionably king rabbit
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They wore black mini dresses, scarves and boots,
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I'm not so sure about the furniture in front.
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[Hugh Hefner] That wholesome beauty was Barbara Klein,
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♪ I remember Sunday morning ♪
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Hef is the most romantic person that I've ever been with.
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♪ I must be back again ♪
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Simon says, be creative.
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I did things with Barbi that I had never done before
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We went to 16 different countries on one trip.
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♪ ... love like I know it should ♪
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it's time for me to take a step back.
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we'd successfully opened 15 Playboy Clubs within the U.S.
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they were all looking to go out,
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he was taken to clubs where there were gaming tables.
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and a $2 million investment, we held our grand opening.
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[Victor Lownes] When we opened the club here,
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[Hugh Hefner] What I saw in London that summer
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successful casino in the world for a number of years.
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What are you doing up?
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that Playboy had established.
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That had always been the line of demarcation
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that were, uh, a lot more explicit than Playboy ever was.
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and decide whether or not it was gonna go as far as Penthouse,
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This was really difficult for Hefner
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was a hard hurdle to overcome.
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And our readers approved...
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Because feminists argued that the centerfold images
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[Hugh Hefner] The 1960s had given rise to a second wave of feminism.
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We proclaim that we talk about free abortion on demand,
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she said that this was actually intense labor, exploitation,
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was to speak with Steinem face to face.
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I never picked them out as special enemies.
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Let's take a different tact.
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certainly caught him up short.
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[Hugh Hefner] While I had tried to smooth over Playboy's relationship
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My next guest has created an empire.
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And the show went on from there.
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I think that it's important

Hefner becomes addicted to an amphetamine drug that lets him work around the clock, using the pages of the magazine to fight for civil rights and ultimately publish what would become Martin Luther King Jr's final written words.

Recap of American Playboy: The Hugh Hefner Story Season 1 Episode 6 (S01E06) - 1
♪ Every little movement ♪
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♪ The Eastern world ♪
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and more and more, uh, kids are being sent
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[Hugh Hefner] So I hired a new assistant editor...
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and he was well connected with that world.
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demonstrated in cities across the country.
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For our humor section,
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[Kretchmer] Britain recently abolished the death penalty.
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and it's reflected in everything we do.
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between myself and readers...
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... an organization dedicated to fighting censorship
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such as Roe v. Wade and continued to support
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we published an interview with Dr. King,
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but he also explained how far we had to go.
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in the face of ruthless opposition.
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[cheers and applause]
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Hi.
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When Playboy published its first African-American Playmate,
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I need it by 2 p.m. Thank you.
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so I relied on a little orange pill, Dexedrine.
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[Hugh Hefner] I never tried hard drugs.
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They would last until 6:00 the next morning.
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[Rosenzweig] And then, he was so exhausted that he'd crash.
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Oh, is it my fault if the articles are shit?
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[Hugh Hefner] My staff had reached a breaking point,
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then the body starts depending on that,
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in Chicago back in '59,
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So I purchased the 37-floor Palmolive Building
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and there's really nothing you can do about it.
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that you are a player, right?
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Uh, Bobbie, we're in a meeting.
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that just seemed to stop time.
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... but is love and wisdom
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a work that would tragically become
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Everybody else, please stay back.
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[Strawbs] ♪ In the early dawn the Bishop's men ♪
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[Hugh Hefner] It was a time of revolution and some of it was violent.
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for a savage assault on the people,
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[The Grass Roots] ♪ One, two, three, four sha la la la la la ♪
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[Hugh Hefner] It was a uniquely Playboy way to build morale,
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bringing Playboy back to television.
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♪ Try to lift up your feet, girl ♪
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[Hugh Hefner] In 1969, we signed a deal
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Hugh Hefner creates the Playboy Interview, giving a platform to cultural leaders to discuss pressing social issues, and publishes a controversial interview with Malcolm X.

Aired 4 months ago - Apr 07, 2017

To bring Playboy's bachelor lifestyle to the public, Hugh Hefner opens the Playboy Club in Chicago and creates the perfect nightlife hostess - the bunny.

Aired 4 months ago - Apr 07, 2017

During the mid-1950s, Hugh Hefner and Playboy gain national success, giving Hefner an opportunity to speak out about social issues while enjoying the perks of being Mr. Playboy.

Recap of American Playboy: The Hugh Hefner Story Season 1 Episode 3 (S01E03) - 1
But now, with sales of Playboy at an all-time high,
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Uh, Hef?
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What do you think of the studio?
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and we were able to take advantage of that.
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That was very influential.
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the photographs felt more lifelike.
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Don't get mad at me for calling bullshit.
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and quickly became synonymous with our brand.
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Demand for the magazine was rising every month,
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I get in half a day that way with the staff
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But with the magazine taking up all of my time,
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And that was true for decades.
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might be tuned in to one program.
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because it was the very early days of the magazine.
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doing a really successful job
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Truthfully, without any reservation, yes.
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He said, in between segments of the show,
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people are going to have something to say about you.
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the possibilities of livin' the life.
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... and I even added a new accessory to my image, a pipe.
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In 1959, I was even asked to appear
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There was already a fascination with Playboy as a phenomenon.
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The show was going to be a huge undertaking,
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and a tiny budget,
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and the FBI to intervene
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Nat King Cole stays and so does everyone else.
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and Hefner's intentional ability to break that barrier
Recap of American Playboy: The Hugh Hefner Story Season 1 Episode 3 (S01E03) - 36
on a brand-new television show,
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Nat, what a surprise! Great.
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It's great having you with us, Ella.
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to become bigger than just a magazine.
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and I wanted you to hear it from me first.
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He feels it.
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was pretty special, even by those standards.
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We were dissimilar. And what I wanted,
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would be the answer to my romantic dreams,
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I bought a bachelor pad.
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It has woodwork in it and a size and magnificence
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Hef had the finest wine, but he doesn't drink.
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and you got into this pillowed room
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and in December of 1961,
Aired 4 months ago - Apr 07, 2017

Hugh Hefner convinces his new subscription manager to pose as the magazine's first centerfold and "the girl next door" becomes Playboy's formula for success.

Recap of American Playboy: The Hugh Hefner Story Season 1 Episode 2 (S01E02) - 1
[Hefner] We'd talk about culture, but we'd also focus on sex.
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♪ That commands my heart to love you? ♪
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Oh, oh! What was the name of that car company
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Yeah, okay, you're doing nudie magazines,
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would have to change to something else,
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The only question was, would it sell?
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nearly 80% of the 70, 000 issues we printed
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"May I congratulate you on your initial issue
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- Just back to back. - Good.
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No. There's nothing good here.
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If Playboy was going to last I had to find another hook,
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♪ And let the sunshine in, come on right away ♪
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♪ Brighten up my day ♪
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I made Ray my associate editor.
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Playboy moved into its own offices.
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we needed someone to take care of the subscription requests
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She chickened out and I didn't.
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His name was Auguste Comte Spectorsky,
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♪ To this little lullaby ♪
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He spent the majority of his time in that office.
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to set up living quarters somewhere else,
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[Hefner] For almost a year,
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He just has this gift of life.
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Meanwhile, I'm at the front, here.
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to be what everyone now thinks of as a playboy.
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But times were changing.
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I wanted to turn the magazine into a guide
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I don't want to follow trends.
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[Hefner] Tajiri translated his slick photographic style
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was that we managed to mix the lifestyle
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♪ Talk to me, baby, whisper in my ear ♪
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with Art Paul turning it into a game,
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♪ Jingle all the way ♪
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♪ I like the sleigh ride ♪
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[Christie Hefner] My father wasn't around a lot
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[Hefner] I knew I should have been home with my family
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It's better than the centerfold.
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Hefner was very unhappy with the quality and the caliber.
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♪ And keep my heart from yearning inside ♪
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... so I came up with an alias, Janet Pilgrim,
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♪ If you'll only take a second chance with your heart ♪
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♪ Then you'll see ♪
Aired 4 months ago - Apr 07, 2017

The surprising story of how Marilyn Monroe became Playboy's first pin-up.

Recap of American Playboy: The Hugh Hefner Story Season 1 Episode 1 (S01E01) - 1
So, the entire magazine came to be
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♪ That commands my heart to love you ♪
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This morning a man is on trial in Chicago,
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is taking things that previously were taboo
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Just take your time.
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and my younger brother, Keith.
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and by cartooning his life...
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was Betty Conklin.
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So I turned to my favorite magazine for help... Esquire.
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The cartoons, the fiction, the fashion,
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Her name was Millie Williams.
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at the University of Illinois...
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everything changed...
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and I was inspired to start voicing my own opinion.
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They hurt people. They're hypocritical.
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and her statistics
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And um, we found we had a lot of the same attitudes.
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♪ Here in tears ♪
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[Hugh Hefner] This was, after all, the 1950s.
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but I'd be working for my favorite magazine...
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[Hugh Hefner] They'd moved away from all the things
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[Hugh Hefner] And while I loved being a father...
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[time clock clicks]
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[patrons chattering]
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♪ How good it feels ♪
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I'd always been happiest being creative,
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he actually created the magazine for himself.
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In the same way that Kinsey blew the cover
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but I wanted to do more
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[Hugh Hefner] I knew that there would be nothing that was
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[both chuckling]
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Time magazine was started with an initial investment
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♪ My man called me this morning... ♪
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I was going to make this happen.
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like Herman Miller and Eames.
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It's a lifestyle magazine with a full-color
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[Stephen Martinez] Art Paul was ahead of his time.
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a corporate magazine.
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We just needed to find the perfect girl.
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[Hugh Hefner] I'd spent weeks looking for a cover girl...
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[Hugh Hefner] She was the very pinnacle of sexuality.
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because she was the absolute perfect choice.
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This is Marilyn Monroe we're talking about.