Meet The Man Behind The Playboy Bunny Icon

CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago’s own Hugh Hefner, founder of Playboy, has died of natural causes at age 91. The iconic Playboy Bunny logo also has strong ties to the city.

Playboy’s first art director, Art Paul, was credited with designing the magazine’s legendary logo.

“He wasn’t much of the kind of boss where he wants to control everything. He let me go,” Paul said of Hefner.

Born and raised in Chicago, Paul won a scholarship to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and studied with painter and photographer László Moholy-Nagy at the Institute of Design (now part of the Illinois Institute of Technology) before Hefner hired him at Playboy.

Paul vividly remembers Hefner giving him complete creative freedom, seen in some of the early Playboy covers.

“Hefner taught art. What an editor needs, Art taught him what an art director needs, and why he’s doing what he’s doing,” said Paul’s wife, Suzanne Seed.

Hefner grew up on Chicago’s Northwest Side. The self-proclaimed feminist started Playboy magazine in 1953, building an empire off what many considered taboo.

“The whole idea behind Playboy was to try to put sex back into the total fabric in the interest of man,” Hefner once said.

Former Playboy Playmate Candace Jordan said Hefner “was ahead of his time in every area.”

Jordan posed for the cover of Playboy eight times.

“Despite any of the comments or complaints from feminists, he was a champion for women’s rights and women in general,” she said.

Hefner died at his Los Angeles home Wednesday night. Overnight at the original Playboy Mansion on Chicago’s gold Coast, flowers and cnadles were left in Hefner’s honor.

“He was a revolutionary, and a rebel,” Jordan said.

Hefner certainly pushed the limits, and was credited for his contributions to culture and society, but with that also came critics and controversy.

Watch & Listen LIVE