"Life is too short to be living somebody else's dream," were the famous words echoed by cultural icon Hugh Hefner, who passed away in Los Angeles on Wednesday night at the golden age of 91.

They say sex sells, and perhaps no person in history grasped that concept better than Hugh Marston Hefner. "The major civilizing force in the world is not religion, it is sex," Hefner famously said.

The media mogul and founder of the Playboy empire known around the world was a pioneer in ways that stretched far beyond his famous magazine.

Hefner was a leading civil rights figure and championed equality across gender and sexualities. His foundation promotes individual rights and supports organizations that advance and defend civil rights and civil liberties, particularly those dealing with First Amendment and rational sex and drug policies.

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Throughout his life, Hefner dared to dream big, as epitomized by using an $8,000 loan in 1953 and spinning it into one of the most recognizable brands in the world.

Here is a look back at the man who contended that in his "wildest dreams" he could not have envisioned a "sweeter life."

Hefner was a legend, here's why.