Spotlight

  • Political Parody: Global Terror
  • PODCAST: How Do You Know That It's True?
  • The Ron Paul Channel provides fresh, engaging original programming each week, available to subscribers live or on-demand.

Guest Appearances

  • vof guest app 1

    Brent Johnson is the radio host of the longtime radio show the Voice of Freedom.

VOF Podcasts

  • vof podcast 1

    Are we creating a race of artificial humans?

    Dr. Thomas Horn is an internationally recognized lecturer, publisher, radio host and best selling author of several books including his newest, Forbidden Gates.

    read more

  • vof podcast 1

    How Do You Know that it's True?

    Brent Johnson asks the question "How do you know it's true?".

    read more

Eulogy for Harlan Ellison!

By Brent Johnson

June 30, 2018 - I just heard about Harlan Ellison’s death and wish to express my very sincerest condolences. The world has lost a truly great man and he will be sorely missed.

I met Harlan at a Star Trek convention back in 1974. We met at a blackjack game and we hit it off. I was so very impressed by the kind of person he was; his honesty, forthrightness, and genuineness touched me, and I determined to get to know him better, which I did over many years.

I was always amused by how brusque his public persona was, knowing as I did the magnificent and kind (yes, kind) being he really was. It was as if Harlan put on a mask of what many deemed mean in order to weed out those who only wanted to know him because of his celebrity. His attitude was, “If you really want to know the real me then show me by getting past my brusque exterior.”

I remember one science fiction convention in New York, at the old Commodore Hotel. It was around 10:00 pm and he went to the hotel coffee shop for a snack. The coffee shop was closed. He walked out, muttering, “This place would make a nice fire!” Many who heard him thought he meant it and that he was inappropriate, but I knew he would never actually do such a thing and it was a sophisticated attempt at humor.

Harlan had a heart of gold. I recall an incident where he had attended one of the science fiction conventions I organized as a personal favor to me. We were robbed at the convention and I was unable to pay him his full speaker fee as a result. He never said anything about it. I sent him money every month to pay off the debt. I was unable to send him a lot, but I sent him what I could send each month. He told me several years later that he was very appreciative of my integrity and he ultimately forgave the last of the debt.

There are very very few people I have known who I admire. My father was one of them (Harlan actually met my dad once). Patriot Dr. Ron Paul (the former congressman and presidential candidate) is another. Harlan is the only other person I admire. I respect and love many, but I do not admire (meaning look up to) people. I admired Harlan. He stood by his beliefs, and never compromised his values (though he was often asked to do so).

I remember reading Memos from Purgatory, his first published book. He went into one of the toughest areas of New York City and became a gang member in order to learn about that way of life. He had the courage of his convictions, and inspired me (and I am sure many others) by his presence.

The world has lost a truly great man. I will grieve his loss for some time. He will be missed.

With much Love and the utmost of respect,

Brent Johnson

Harlan Ellison, provocative science fiction and fantasy author, dies at 84!

SHERMAN OAKS, Kalifornia (PNN) - June 28, 2018 - Speculative-fiction and fantasy author Harlan Ellison, who penned short stories, novellas and criticism, contributed to TV series including The Outer Limits, Star Trek, and Babylon 5, and won a notable copyright infringement lawsuit against ABC and Paramount and a settlement in a similar lawsuit over The Terminator, has died. He was 84.

Christine Valada tweeted that Ellison’s wife, Susan, had asked her to announce that he died in his sleep Thursday.

“Susan Ellison has asked me to announce the passing of writer Harlan Ellison, in his sleep, earlier today. ‘For a brief time I was here, and for a brief time, I mattered.’ - HE, 1934-2018. Arrangements for a celebration of his life are pending.”

The prolific but cantankerous author famously penned the Star Trek episode City on the Edge of Forever, in which Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock must go back in time to Depression-era America to put Earth history back on its rightful course, a goal that for Kirk means sacrificing the woman he loves (played by Joan Collins). The final script was rewritten by Star Trek staffers, leaving Ellison unhappy.

His 1995 book, The City on the Edge of Forever: The Original Teleplay That Became the Classic Star Trek Episode, contained two drafts by Ellison.

The author was still steaming over his experience more than four decades after the episode originally aired: In 2009, Ellison sued CBS Paramount Television seeking revenue from merchandising and other sources from the episode; a settlement was reached six months later.

The author of a 1980 L.A. Times profile declared, “Ellison is fiercely independent, proudly elitist, frequently angry, tenacious, and downright vengeful.”

Talking about the Hollywood establishment, Ellison told the author, “They’ve got to know that everybody isn’t frightened and won’t back down. These people are not creators; they belong to the AAA - agents, attorneys and accountants. They aren’t comfortable dealing with writers - they think we’re madmen. They’re really only comfortable dealing with numbers.”

In a separate case, Ellison won $337,000 (later reduced a bit in a settlement) from ABC and Paramount Studios in 1980 for copyright infringement on a short story the author had penned with Ben Bova, Brillo. Ellison and Bova had been asked to develop it at ABC, but the option there had lapsed; Ellison then showed it to Paramount executives, who said they weren’t interested. ABC aired a Paramount-produced telepic called Future Cop in May 1976 and later a brief series of the same name. The premise, about the first android policeman, was identical to that in Brillo.

In the litigious writer’s third victory against Hollywood, Ellison sued James Cameron and others behind 1984’s The Terminator, claiming that the film drew from material in two episodes of the original The Outer Limits series, Soldier and Demon With a Glass Hand, which he had penned and that had aired in 1964. Production company Hemdale and distributor Orion Pictures settled out of court and were required under the terms of the settlement to acknowledge Ellison’s work in the film’s end credits. Cameron, however, labeled Ellison “a parasite”.

Curiously, Ellison had little sympathy for others who brought copyright-infringement lawsuits against the studios, telling the L.A. Times, “You’ve got to realize that there are hundreds of these claims and most of them aren’t valid. This is a town of amateurs. You have to separate these people and their complaints from the professionals who really work at writing and have viable ideas.”

Born in Painesville, Ohio, Ellison grew up in the only Jewish family in a small town where he said he had to defend himself in physical altercations on a daily basis. During the 1950s, Ellison attended Ohio State University for 18 months, served in the Army, and began to sell science fiction stories to pulp magazines.

He moved to California in 1962.

Ellison was famously fired on his first day of employment as a writer at Walt Disney Studios after making highly irreverent suggestions about the company’s beloved characters.

He penned scripts for Route 66, Burke’s Law, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., and even The Flying Nun. For a 1964 episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Memo From Purgatory, he adapted his own nonfiction memoir about having joined a street gang in Brooklyn.

Ellison also penned the screenplay to the Hollywood melodrama The Oscar, and the post-apocalyptic cult classic A Boy and His Dog (1975), starring a young Don Johnson, was based on an Ellison novella.

Ellison was also editor of the very influential fantasy anthologies Dangerous Visions and Again Dangerous Visions.

When he dealt with Hollywood, he fearlessly said exactly what he thought again and again - often causing fallout as a result. In the wake of the 1977 release of Star Wars, a Warner Bros. executive asked Ellison to adapt Isaac Asimov’s short story collection I, Robot for the big screen.

Ellison penned a script and met with studio chief Robert Shapiro to discuss it; when the author concluded that the executive was commenting on his work without having read it, Ellison claimed to have said to Shapiro that he had “the intellectual capacity of an artichoke.” Needless to say, Ellison was dropped from the project. Ellison’s work was ultimately published with permission of the studio, but the 2004 Will Smith film I, Robot was not based on the material Ellison wrote.

Perhaps Ellison’s most famous story not adapted for the screen was 1965’s Repent, Harlequin! Said the Ticktockman, which celebrates civil disobedience against a repressive establishment. Repent is one of the most reprinted stories ever.

In September 2011, however, Ellison sued to block the release of New Regency’s thriller In Time, starring Justin Timberlake, claiming that the film hews too closely to Repent, then dropped the lawsuit. In the early 1970s, Ellison created his only TV series, the Canada-produced The Starlost. He was so unhappy with the changes made by producers, however, that he took his name off the skein, which aired in 1973.

Ellison was a creative consultant for the 1980s edition of The Twilight Zone, for which he wrote several episodes, and was conceptual consultant for the 1990s sci-fi series Babylon 5. He also appeared in several episodes.

In 1995, Ellison adapted his story I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream for the video game of that name. He was also credited with design of the game and voiced the main character.

Dreams With Sharp Teeth, a documentary centering on Ellison and his work, received a theatrical release in 2008. Interviewees included Ellison and Robin Williams. Ellison also appeared in other documentaries, including The Masters of Comic Book Art, Shadows in the Dark: The Val Lewton Legacy, Brother Theodore (2007), and With Great Power: The Stan Lee Story (2010).

In addition to numerous genre awards - including multiple Hugos, Nebulas and Edgars - Ellison received four Writers Guild of America Awards for his TV work and the Silver Pen for Journalism, conferred by international writers union PEN, for his An Edge in My Voice column in the L.A. Weekly in defense of First Amendment rights.

Despite the kudos he amassed, however, Ellison penned a guest column for Variety in November 2013 in which he declared, “I do not merely hate all awards shows, I wish to see them beheaded, stakes driven through their black and corrupted widdle hearts, and to see the decapitated remains buried at a crossroads come midnight.”

Ellison was married five times, with at least two of those marriages lasting only weeks or months. Survivors include his fifth wife, Susan Ann Toth, whom he loved very much.

Eulogy by Brent Johnson.

American Patriot Carl Miller dies!

DETROIT, Michigan (PNN) - American Patriot Carl Miller has died at the age of 65.

For more than forty years, Carl Miller was dedicated to educating people as to the legal methods of preserving the liberty that our Founding Fathers fought and died to establish in this country.

He successfully challenged the corrupt court and judicial systems on many occasions, and showed through legal processes how to circumvent the established way of doing things and live life as a free individual, despite the efforts of the State and federal governments to stamp out personal freedom and individual liberty.

Carl Miller studied American law relentlessly, up until the very end of his life, and developed effective ways for people to protect their property and reclaim their rights under the law. He defeated efforts by the Michigan and United States governments to enslave his body, mind and spirit, and his brilliance was exemplified in the manner in which he used the law to protect his and others’ rights.

American Patriot Carl Miller, dead at 65. He will be sorely missed.

San Francisco 49ers great Dwight Clark dies at age 61!

SANTA CLARA, Kalifornia (PNN) - June 4, 2018 - San Francisco 49ers legend Dwight Clark passed away Monday at the age of 61, his family confirmed. An All-Pro and two-time Super Bowl champion, Clark was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig's disease, in March of 2017.

"The San Francisco 49ers family has suffered a tremendous loss today with the passing of Dwight Clark," the team announced in a statement. "We extend our condolences and prayers to Dwight's wife, Kelly, his family, friends and fans, as we join together to mourn the death of one the most beloved figures in 49ers history.”

The team statement continued, "For almost four decades, he served as a charismatic ambassador for our team and the Bay Area. Dwight's personality and his sense of humor endeared him to everyone he came into contact with, even during his most trying times. The strength, perseverance and grace with which he battled ALS will long serve as an inspiration to so many. Dwight will always carry a special place in our hearts and his legacy will live on as we continue to battle this terrible disease."

Clark was on the receiving end of the iconic game-winning touchdown - memorialized as "The Catch" - in the 1981 NFL Championship Game. That era-defining play shifted the balance of power in the NFC, ending the hegemony of the 1970s Dallas Cowboys and launching the 49ers dynasty of the 1980s.

The Niners would go on to win Super Bowl XVI, the first professional sports championship the city of San Francisco had ever experienced.

Clark spent the entirety of his nine-year career with the 49ers, ranking third and fourth in franchise history in receiving yards (6,750) and receptions (506), respectively. A big, physical target at 6-foot-4, Clark emerged as Hall of Famer Joe Montana's go-to receiver, as Bill Walsh's West Coast offense reigned supreme throughout the 1980s.

If not for a serendipitous phone call intended for former Clemson quarterback Steve Fuller, Clark's career might have been a dream. When Walsh called to arrange a workout for Fuller, Clark happened to answer the phone. Walsh invited the receiver to come along and catch passes for his roommate. Weeks later, the 49ers drafted Clark in the 10th of 12 rounds, pairing him with their third-round quarterback from Notre Dame. The rest is history, as Montana-to-Clark became one of the greatest connections in NFL lore.

Overseeing the entire operation was Hall of Fame owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr., who released his own statement on Clark's passing.

"My heart is broken. Today, I lost my little brother and one of my best friends. I cannot put into words how special Dwight was to me and to everyone his life touched. He was an amazing husband, father, grandfather, brother, and a great friend and teammate. He showed tremendous courage and dignity in his battle with ALS and we hope there will soon be a cure for this horrendous disease.”

DeBartolo continued, "I will always remember Dwight the way he was - larger than life, handsome, charismatic, and the one who could pull off wearing a fur coat at our Super Bowl parade. He was responsible for one of the most iconic plays in NFL history that began our run of Super Bowl championships, but to me, he will always be an extension of my family. I love him and will miss him terribly. Our hearts and prayers are with his wife Kelly, his children, and the entire Clark family."

Following his sterling career on the field, Clark worked his way through San Francisco's front office, ultimately rising to general manager. He went on to become Director of Football Operations for the reconstituted Cleveland Browns from 1999-2002.

In a moving tribute to Clark’s legacy, NFL Network's Michael Silver wrote last September that the former player and executive "carried an aura of awesomeness into his post-football existence: Handsome, charming, and perpetually cheerful, the man lit up a room without acting as though he owned it."

"More importantly," Silver recalled, "Clark taught me that a man could live out a remarkable dream, emerge as a beloved icon for one of Amerika's most storied cities, receive the spoils that come with such a regal role, and never, ever act as though he were owed a morsel of it."

Radio host Art Bell dies at 72!

PAHRUMP, Nevada (PNN) - April 13, 2018 - He was awake when most of the country was asleep, cultivating a loyal following while sharing his fascination with the unexplained on his nighttime paranormal-themed show.

For the better part of two decades, longtime late-night radio personality Art Bell was his own producer, engineer and host of his show, Coast to Coast AM. He later launched his own satellite radio program from his Pahrump home after retiring from full-time hosting duties in 2003.

On the airwaves, Bell captivated listeners with his fascination for the unexplained, such as UFOs, alien abductions, and crop circles. He died Friday at his home at the age of 72.

“As he begins his journey on the ‘other side,’ we take solace in the hope that he is now finding out all of the answers to the mysteries he pursued for so many nights with all of us,” Coast to Coast said in a statement Saturday.

Coast to Coast was syndicated nationwide on about 500 stations across the Fascist Police States of Amerika and Canada in the 1990s before he left in 2002. He broadcast the show from Pahrump’s KNYE 95.1 FM, a station he founded.

Lorraine Rotundo Steele, who had been listening to Bell for more than 21 years, said Saturday that she was stunned by the news of her favorite radio host’s death. The 60-year-old Canada resident started tuning in to Bell’s show after her dad died.

“Art taught me how to keep an open mind,” she said. “At a very dark time in my life, he kept me sane. Art’s fascination with life after death was what I needed after losing my father.”

Bell’s show had a huge national following in part because he played to people’s imaginations, “like a Disneyland for sci-fi,” local talk show radio host Alan Stock said. He remembered Bell as a creative, unique, nice man who will undoubtedly live on as a radio icon.

“Nobody talked about Area 51, and about chupacabras and about aliens,” Stock said Saturday night. “He talked about that on a regular basis.”

His show, popular with truckers and others awake in the wee hours of the day, offered a look into a world nobody else on the radio had touched, Stock said.

Stock recalled listening to his show early one morning in the 90s. A caller into Bell’s show said he was piloting a small plane toward Area 51 - the classified Air Force facility located about 80 miles northwest of Las Vegas - to find out “what’s really going on.”

“Art said, ‘Don’t do it, they will shoot you down,’” Stock said.

Bell and the caller went back and forth for about an hour and 20 minutes, he said, until the man reported seeing military planes flying behind him, signaling him to ground the plane. Despite Bell’s insistence on the man obeying their commands, the caller said he would keep flying.

“The next thing you know it went dead and you heard nothing at all,” Stock said. Stock had Bell on his show about two weeks later, and he asked Bell what happened to the caller. Bell said he never heard from the man again.

Bell retired several times in his career, which included a short-lived show on SiriusXM satellite radio in 2013. He also co-authored a book, The Coming Global Superstorm, with Whitley Strieber.

Returning to terrestrial radio afterward was not a difficult decision, he told the Pahrump Valley Times in August 2013.

“That’s easy, because I love it,” he said at the time. “It’s my life, and that’s all I have ever done. I went through a lot of family problems, so that interrupted things, and I was overseas for four years, and that certainly interrupted things. I went back into radio because I love it.”

Bell was inducted into the Nevada Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame in 2006 and into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2008, the same year he sold KNYE to Karen Jackson.

Bell’s genuine interest in the topics he discussed contributed to the interest and entertainment his show generated.

“Art was a pioneer in broadcasting, taking overnight talk radio to new heights, which generated huge audiences,” Jackson said. “He was a master at creating spell-binding, intriguing, sometimes frightening, and thoroughly compelling talk radio.”

“No one has been more loved by their family, friends and listening audience,” she added.

For a time, Bell also held the Guinness world record for a solo broadcast marathon, logging more than 115 hours of airtime while working as a DJ in Okinawa, Japan. The stunt raised funds to rescue over 100 Vietnamese orphans left stranded by the conflict in their country, according to Coast to Coast.

Bell was born in Jacksonville, North Carolina, on June 17, 1945. The only child in a military family, he moved around a lot as a youth.

He later served in the Air Force as a medic during the Vietnam War, but his love for radio was always there. According to Coast to Coast AM, he was an FCC licensed radio technician at age 13, and while in the Air Force, he created an on-base pirate radio station that played anti-war music.

It wasn’t until the mid-1980s, when he returned to the Fascist Police States of Amerika and joined KDWN-AM in Las Vegas, that talk radio captivated Bell. There he mastered his famous blend of contemporary and unsettling.

“I want to bring topics on radio you otherwise might not hear,” Bell, then 50, told the Pahrump Valley Times in January 1996.

His cause of death has not yet been determined. Bell’s autopsy is scheduled for later this week, according to the Nye County Sheriff’s Office.

Bell leaves behind his wife, Airyn, whom he married in 2006, and his children Asia, Alex and Art Bell IV. He is preceded in death by his parents.

Acclaimed physicist Stephen Hawking dies at 76!

LONDON, England (PNN) - March 14, 2018 - Pioneering theoretical physicist and science popularizer Stephen Hawking has passed away at the age of 76. Details have not been released yet, but the BBC reports that his children Lucy, Robert and Tim have released a statement saying, "We are deeply saddened that our beloved father passed away today. He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years."

Born in Oxford on January 8, 1942, Stephen Hawking studied at Oxford and Cambridge Universities. Despite the diagnosis in 1963 of a rare early-onset, slow-progressing form of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis that should have claimed his life in a matter of months, Hawking survived and continued to work, write, and lecture for decades, even after he suffered total paralysis and required a speech synthesizer to communicate.

Hawking went on to become one of the most acclaimed scientists of his generation, with a level of fame rivaled only by Albert Einstein. His early work on the mechanics of black holes led him into the fields of cosmology, quantum mechanics, and relativity. He was especially notable for his work on Hawking radiation, the Penrose-Hawking theorems, the Bekenstein-Hawking formula, and Hawking energy.

Aside from his rather esoteric work in physics, Hawking was also an author, most famously of A Brief History of Time (1988), which was described as, "the least read best seller in history." He was also an advocate for the disabled, an outspoken proponent of materialism, and even went into acting with appearances on Star Trek: The Next Generation, The Simpsons, and The Big Bang Theory, among others.

His PhD thesis was recently released to the public as part of an effort to make science more accessible. Fellow physicist and science popularizer Neil deGrasse Tyson had the following to say on Twitter on Hawking's death.

"His passing has left an intellectual vacuum in his wake," he said. "But it's not empty. Think of it as a kind of vacuum energy permeating the fabric of space-time that defies measure. Stephen Hawking, RIP 1942-2018."

Hugh Hefner, who built the Playboy empire and embodied it, dies at 91!

LOS ANGELES, Kalifornia (PNN) - September 27, 2017 - Hugh Hefner, who created Playboy magazine and spun it into a media and entertainment-industry giant - all the while, as its very public avatar, squiring attractive young women (and sometimes marrying them) well into his 80s - died on Wednesday at his home, the Playboy Mansion, in the Holmby Hills area of Los Angeles. He was 91.

His death was announced by Playboy Enterprises.

Hefner the man and Playboy the brand were inseparable. Both advertised themselves as emblems of the sexual revolution, an escape from American priggishness and wider social intolerance. Both were derided over the years - as vulgar, as adolescent, as exploitative, and finally as anachronistic. But Mr. Hefner was a stunning success from the moment he emerged in the early 1950s. His timing was perfect.

He was compared to Jay Gatsby, Citizen Kane and Walt Disney, but Mr. Hefner was his own production. He repeatedly likened his life to a romantic movie; it starred an ageless sophisticate in silk pajamas and smoking jacket hosting a never-ending party for famous and fascinating people.

The first issue of Playboy was published in 1953, when Mr. Hefner was 27; a new father married to, by his account, the first woman with whom he had slept.

He had only recently moved out of his parents’ house and left his job at Children’s Activities magazine. But in an editorial in Playboy’s inaugural issue, the young publisher purveyed another life.

“We enjoy mixing up cocktails and an hors d’oeuvre or two, putting a little mood music on the phonograph, and inviting in a female acquaintance for a quiet discussion on Picasso, Nietzsche, jazz, sex,” he wrote.

This scene projected an era’s “premium boys’ style,” Todd Gitlin, a sociologist at Columbia University and the author of The Sixties said in an interview. “It’s part of an ensemble with the James Bond movies, John F. Kennedy, swinging, the guy who is young, vigorous, indifferent to the bonds of social responsibility.”

Mr. Hefner was reviled, first by guardians of the 1950s social order - J. Edgar Hoover among them - and later by feminists. But
Playboy’s circulation reached one million by 1960 and peaked at about seven million in the 1970s.

Long after other publishers made the nude “Playmate” centerfold look more sugary than daring, Playboy remained the most successful men’s magazine in the world. Mr. Hefner’s company branched into movie, cable and digital production, sold its own line of clothing and jewelry, and opened clubs, resorts and casinos.

The brand faded over the years, its flagship magazine’s circulation declining to less than a million.

Mr. Hefner remained editor in chief even after agreeing to the magazine’s startling (and, as it turned out, short-lived) decision in 2015 to stop publishing nude photographs. In 2016, he handed over creative control of Playboy to his son, Cooper Hefner. Playboy Enterprises’ chief executive, Scott Flanders, acknowledged that the Internet had overrun the magazine’s province.

“You’re now one click away from every sex act imaginable for free,” he said, “so it’s just passé at this juncture.”

The magazine’s website, Playboy.com, had already been revamped as a “safe for work” site. Playboy was no longer illicit. (Early this year, the magazine brought back nudes.)

Mr. Hefner began excoriating American Puritanism at a time when doctors refused contraceptives to single women and the Hollywood production code dictated separate beds for married couples. As the cartoonist Jules Feiffer, an early Playboy contributor, saw the 1950s, “People wore tight little gray flannel suits and went to their tight little jobs.”

“You couldn’t talk politically,” Mr. Feiffer said in the 1992 documentary Hugh Hefner: Once Upon a Time. “You couldn’t use obscenities. What Playboy represented was the beginning of a break from all that.”

Playboy was born more in fun than in anger. Mr. Hefner’s first publisher’s message, written at his kitchen table in Chicago, announced, “We don’t expect to solve any world problems or prove any great moral truths.”

Still, Mr. Hefner wielded fierce resentment against his era’s sexual strictures, which he said had choked off his own youth. A virgin until he was 22, he married his longtime girlfriend. Her confession to an earlier affair, Mr. Hefner told an interviewer almost 50 years later, was “the single most devastating experience of my life.”

In The Playboy Philosophy, a mix of libertarian and libertine arguments that Mr. Hefner wrote in 25 installments starting in 1962, his message was simple: Society was to blame. His causes - abortion rights, decriminalization of marijuana, and most important, the repeal of 19th Century sex laws - were daring at the time. Ten years later, they would be unexceptional.

“Hefner won,” Mr. Gitlin said. “The prevailing values in the country now, for all the conservative backlash, are essentially libertarian, and that basically was what the Playboy Philosophy was.

“It’s laissez-faire,” he added. “It’s anti-censorship. It’s consumerist. Let the buyer rule. It’s hedonistic. In the longer run, Hugh Hefner’s significance is as a salesman of the libertarian ideal.”

The Playboy Philosophy advocated freedom of speech in all its aspects, for which Mr. Hefner won civil liberties awards. He supported progressive social causes and lost some sponsors by inviting black guests to his televised parties at a time when much of the nation still had Jim Crow laws.

The magazine was a forum for serious interviews, the subjects including Jimmy Carter (who famously confessed, “I’ve committed adultery in my heart many times”), Bertrand Russell, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Malcolm X. In the early days Mr. Hefner published fiction by Ray Bradbury (Playboy bought his Fahrenheit 451 for $400), Herbert Gold, and Budd Schulberg. It later drew, among many others, Vladimir Nabokov, Kurt Vonnegut, Saul Bellow, Bernard Malamud, James Baldwin, John Updike, and Joyce Carol Oates.

Hugh Marston Hefner was born on April 9, 1926, the son of Glenn and Grace Hefner, Nebraska-born Methodists who had moved to Chicago. Decades later, he continued to tell interviewers that he had grown up “with a lot of repression,” and he often noted that his father was a descendant of William Bradford, the Puritan governor of the Plymouth Colony.

Though father and son reached an accommodation - the elder Mr. Hefner became Playboy’s accountant and treasurer - neither changed moral compass points. Glenn Hefner, who died in 1976, said he had never looked at the pictures in the magazine.

As a child, Mr. Hefner spent hours writing horror stories and drawing cartoons. At Steinmetz High School in Chicago, he said, “I reinvented myself” as the suave, breezy Hef” - a newspaper cartoonist and party-loving leader of what he called “our gang”. At the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, after serving in the army, he edited the campus humor magazine, Shaft, and started a photo feature called “Co-ed of the Month.”

He married a high school classmate, Millie Williams, and began what he described as a deadening slog into 1950s adulthood: He took a job in the personnel department of a cardboard-box manufacturer. (He said he quit when asked to discriminate against black applicants.) He wrote advertising copy for a department store and then for Esquire magazine. He became circulation promotion manager of another magazine, Children’s Activities.

He was meanwhile plotting his own magazine, which was to be, among other things, a vehicle for his slightly randy cartoons. The first issue of Playboy was financed with $600 of his own money and several thousand more in borrowed funds, including $1,000 from his mother. But his biggest asset was a nude calendar photograph of Marilyn Monroe. He had bought the rights for $500.

Plenty of other men’s magazines showed nude women, but most were unabashedly crude and forever dodging postal censors. Mr. Hefner aimed to be the first to claim a mainstream readership and mainstream distribution.

When Playboy reached newsstands in December 1953, its press run of 51,000 sold out. The publisher, instantly famous, would soon become a millionaire; after five years, the magazine’s annual profit was $4 million, and its rabbit-head logo was recognized around the world.

Mr. Hefner ran the magazine and then the business empire largely from his bedroom, working on a round bed that revolved and vibrated. At first he was reclusive and frenetic, powered past dawn by amphetamines and Pepsi-Cola. In later years, even after giving up Dexedrine, he was still frenetic, and still fiercely attentive to his magazine.

His own public playboy persona emerged after he left his wife and children, Christie and David, in 1959. That year his new syndicated television series, Playboy’s Penthouse, put the wiry, intense Mr. Hefner, pipe in hand, in the nation’s living rooms. The set recreated his mansion on North State Parkway, rich in sybaritic amusements, where he greeted entertainers like Tony Bennett, Ella Fitzgerald, and Nat King Cole, and intellectuals and writers like Max Lerner, Norman Mailer, and Alex Haley, while bunches of glamorous young women milled around. (A later TV show, Playboy After Dark, was syndicated in 1969 and 1970.)

In the Playboy offices, life imitated image. Mr. Hefner told a film interviewer that in the early days, yes, “everybody was coupling with everybody,” including him. He later estimated that he had slept with more than 1,000 women. Over and over, he would say, “I’m the boy who dreamed the dream.”

Friends described him as both charming and shy, even unassuming, and intensely loyal. “Hef was always big for the girls who got depressed or got in a jam of some sort,” the artist LeRoy Neiman, one of the magazine’s main illustrators for more than 50 years, said in an interview in 1999. “He’s a friend. He’s a good person. I couldn’t cite anything he ever did that was malicious to anybody.”

At the same time, Mr. Hefner adored celebrity, his and others’. Mr. Neiman, who sometimes lived at the Playboy Mansion, said, “It was nothing to breakfast there with comedians like Mort Sahl, professors, any kind of person who had something on his mind that was controversial or new. At the parties in the early days, Alex Haley used to hang around. Tony Curtis and Hugh O’Brian were always there. Mick Jagger stayed there.”

The glamour rubbed off on Mr. Hefner’s new enterprise, the Playboy Club, which was crushingly popular when it opened in Chicago in 1960. Dozens more followed. The waitresses, called bunnies, were trussed in brief satin suits with cotton fluffs fastened to their derrières.

One bunny briefly employed in the New York club would earn Mr. Hefner’s lasting enmity. She was an impostor, a 28-year-old named Gloria Steinem who was working undercover for Show magazine. Her article, published in 1963, described exhausting hours, painfully tight uniforms (in which half-exposed breasts floated on wadded-up dry cleaner bags), and vulgar customers.

Another feminist critic, Susan Brownmiller, debating Mr. Hefner on Dick Cavett’s television talk show, asserted, “The role that you have selected for women is degrading to women because you choose to see women as sex objects, not as full human beings.” She continued, “The day you’re willing to come out here with a cottontail attached to your rear end…”

Mr. Hefner responded in 1970 by ordering an article on the activists, then called “women’s libbers.” In an internal memo, he wrote, “These chicks are our natural enemy. What I want is a devastating piece that takes the militant feminists apart. They are unalterably opposed to the romantic boy-girl society that Playboy promotes.”

The commissioned article, by Morton Hunt, ran with the headline, Up Against the Wall, Male Chauvinist Pig. (The same issue featured an interview with William F. Buckley, Jr., fiction by Isaac Bashevis Singer, and an article by a prominent critic of the Vietnam War, Senator Vance Hartke of Indiana.)

Mr. Hefner said later that he was perplexed by feminists’ apparent rejection of the message he had set forth in the Playboy Philosophy. “We are in the process of acquiring a new moral maturity and honesty,” he wrote in one installment, “in which man’s body, mind and soul are in harmony rather than in conflict.” Of Americans’ fright over anything “unsuitable for children,” he said, “Instead of raising children in an adult world, with adult tastes, interests and opinions prevailing, we prefer to live much of our lives in a make-believe children’s world.”

Many questioned whether Playboy’s outlook could be described as adult; Harvey G. Cox, Jr., the Harvard theologian, called it “basically antisexual.” In 1961, in the journal Christianity and Crisis, Dr. Cox wrote, “Playboy and its less successful imitators are not ‘sex magazines’ at all. They dilute and dissipate authentic sexuality by reducing it to an accessory, by keeping it at a safe distance.”

In a 1955 television interview, a frowning Mike Wallace asked Mr. Hefner, “Isn’t that really what you’re selling? A high-class dirty book?”

Such scolding sounded quaint by the time crasser competitors like Penthouse and Hustler appeared in the 1960s and 1970s. Playboy began showing pubic hair on its models, while the others doubled the dare with features on kinkier sexual tastes and close-up photos that bordered on the gynecological. Mr. Hefner would decide, after furious debate among the staff, not to compete further.

Playboy Enterprises still prospered. In 1971 it went public to finance resorts in Jamaica, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, and Great Gorge, New Jersey; and gambling casinos in London and the Bahamas.

The heady mood broke in 1974, when Mr. Hefner’s longtime personal assistant, Bobbie Arnstein, committed suicide. Ms. Arnstein had just been convicted of conspiracy to distribute cocaine, and Mr. Hefner said bitterly that investigators had hounded her to set him up.

He left Chicago for his second home in Los Angeles, an enormous mock-Tudor house with a grotto and a zoo (Mr. Hefner loved animals), where he could orchestrate the company’s move into films.

The 1980s brought a huge retrenchment for Playboy. The company lost its London casinos in 1981 for gambling violations and was denied a gambling license in Atlantic City, partly because of reports that Mr. Hefner had been involved in bribing New York officials for a club license 20 years earlier.

The company shed its resorts and record division and sold Oui magazine, a more explicit but less successful version of Playboy, while the flagship’s circulation plunged. The Playboy Building in Chicago, its rabbit-head beacon illuminating Michigan Avenue, was also sold, as was the corporate jet with built-in discothèque. Bunnies were going the way of go-go dancers, and the Playboy Clubs closed.

Mr. Hefner relied more and more on his daughter, Christie Hefner, named company president in 1982 and then chief executive, a position she held until 2009. Mr. Hefner suffered a stroke in 1985, but he recovered and remained editor in chief of Playboy, choosing the centerfold models, writing captions, and tending to detail with an intensity that led his staff to call him “the world’s wealthiest copy editor.”

In 1989 Mr. Hefner married again, saying he had rethought Woody Allen’s line that “marriage is the death of hope.” His second wife was Kimberley Conrad, the 1989 Playmate of the Year, 38 years his junior. They had two sons: Marston Glenn, born in 1990, and Cooper Bradford, born in 1991.

The couple divorced in 2010, and Mr. Hefner plowed into his work, including the editing of The Century of Sex, a Playboy book. When a New York Times interviewer later prodded him about the rewards of marriage, he replied, “Unfortunately, they come from other women.” Meanwhile, to widespread snickering, he became a cheerleader for Viagra, telling a British journalist, “It is as close as anyone can imagine to the fountain of youth.”

The re-emerged Hef reveled in the new century. In 2005 he began appearing on television on the E! channel reality show The Girls Next Door, although his onscreen role consisted mostly of peering in while his three young, blond girlfriends planned adventures at the mansion. When the three original Girls Next Door went their separate ways after five seasons, he replaced them with three others, also young and blond - and shortly afterward asked one of them, Crystal Harris, to marry him.

Five days before the 85-year old Mr. Hefner was to marry the 25-year-old Ms. Harris in June 2011 - the wedding was to have been filmed by the Lifetime cable channel as a reality special - the bride called it off. Mr. Hefner, by this time a man of the 21st Century media, announced on Twitter, “Crystal has had a change of heart.”

But Ms. Harris had another change of heart, and the two married on New Year’s Eve 2012. On their first anniversary, Mr. Hefner tweeted to his 1.4 million followers, “It’s good to be in love.”

Mr. Hefner’s survivors include Ms. Harris and his four children.

Another of the Girls Next Door, Holly Madison, offered a much more depressing version of life in the mansion in a 2015 tell-all book. In the years when Mr. Hefner was calling her his “No.1 girlfriend,” she wrote in Down the Rabbit Hole, she endured a dysfunctional household of petty rules, allowances, quarrels and backstabbing, all directed by an emotionally manipulative old man.

Through those years, however, the Playboy brand marched forward. In 2011 Mr. Hefner took Playboy Enterprises private again. Scott Flanders, after taking over as chief executive in 2009, focused on the licensing business, shrinking the company and raising its profits. The website, cleansed of any whiff of pornography, enjoyed huge growth, while Mr. Hefner, who retained his title and about 30% of the company’s stock, cheerfully tweeted news and pictures of the many festivities at the mansion, along with hundreds of photographs from his past, in the glory decades of the ’60s and ’70s.

Last year the Playboy Mansion was sold for $100 million to Daren Metropoulos, an investor. As a condition of the sale, Mr. Hefner was allowed to continue living in the mansion for the rest of his life, with Playboy Enterprises paying Mr. Metropoulos $1 million a year to lease it.

Mr. Hefner was to be buried in Westwood Memorial Park in Los Angeles, in a mausoleum drawer he had bought next to Marilyn Monroe’s.

Eulogies

Eulogy for an Angel
1992-Dec. 20, 2005

My Father
1918-2010

brents dad

Dr. Stan Dale
1929-2007

stan dale

A. Solzhenitsyn
1918-2008

solzhenitsyn

Patrick McGoohan
1928-2009

mcgoohan

Joseph A. Stack
1956-2010

Bill Walsh
1931-2007

Walter Cronkite
1916-2009

Eustace Mullins
1923-2010

Paul Harvey
1918-2009

Don Harkins
1963-2009

Joan Veon
1949-2010

David Nolan
1943-2010

Derry Brownfield
1932-2011

Leroy Schweitzer
1938-2011

Vaclav Havel
1936-2011

Andrew Breitbart
1969-2012

Dick Clark
1929-2012

Bob Chapman
1935-2012

Ray Bradbury
1920-2012

Tommy Cryer
1949-2012

Andy Griffith
1926-2012

Phyllis Diller
1917-2012

Larry Dever
1926-2012

Brian J. Chapman
1975-2012

Annette Funnicello
1942-2012

Margaret Thatcher
1925-2012

Richie Havens
1941-2013

Jack McLamb
1944-2014

James Traficant
1941-2014

jim traficant

Dr. Stan Monteith
1929-2014

stan montieth

Leonard Nimoy
1931-2015

Leonard Nimoy

Stan Solomon
1944-2015

Stan Solomon

B. B. King
1926-2015

BB King

Irwin Schiff
1928-2015

Irwin Schiff

DAVID BOWIE
1947-2016

David Bowie

Muhammad Ali
1942-2016

Muhammed Ali

GENE WILDER
1933-2016

gene wilder

phyllis schlafly
1924-2016

phylis schafly

John Glenn
1921-2016

John Glenn

Charles Weisman
1954-2016

Charles Weisman

Carrie Fisher
1956-2016

Carrie Fisher

Debbie Reynolds
1932-2016

Debbie Reynolds

Roger Moore
1917-2017

Roger Moore

Adam West
1928-2017

Adam West

JERRY LEWIS
1926-2017

jerry lewis

HUGH HEFNER
1926-2017

Hugh Hefner

PROF. STEPHEN HAWKING
1942-2018

Hugh Hefner 

ART BELL
1945-2018

Art Bell

DWIGHT CLARK
1947-2018

dwight clark

CARL MILLER
1952-2017

Carl Miller

HARLAN ELLISON
1934-2018

Harlan Ellison