Hugh Hefner, founder of the Playboy media empire, died at the age of 91 Wednesday at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles, according to a statement from Playboy Enterprises.

According to the news release: "Hugh M. Hefner, the American icon who in 1953 introduced the world to Playboy magazine and built the company into one of the most recognizable American global brands in history, peacefully passed away today from natural causes at his home, The Playboy Mansion, surrounded by loved ones."

His son, Cooper Hefner, the chief creative officer of Playboy Enterprises, said in the statement: "My father lived an exceptional and impactful life as a media and cultural pioneer and a leading voice behind some of the most significant social and cultural movements of our time in advocating free speech, civil rights and sexual freedom. He defined a lifestyle and ethos that lie at the heart of the Playboy brand, one of the most recognizable and enduring in history. He will be greatly missed by many, including his wife Crystal, my sister Christie and my brothers David and Marston, and all of us at Playboy Enterprises."

Ken Doctor, columnist for TheStreet and author, editor and media business analyst, said Wednesday night: "The reminders of a bygone magazine era now confront us daily. Hugh Hefner dead. Rolling Stone to be auctioned off. Graydon Carter (Vanity Fair), Nancy Gibbs (Time), Robbie Myers (Elle) and Cindi Leive (Glamour) all announce their departures. The world has indeed changed. The breakpoints have been in evidence for a decade, but sometimes it takes a disharmonic convergence to clarify things."

Daughter Christie Hefner, who served as CEO of Playboy Enterprises for more than two decades, revolutionized her father's company by bringing on more women as executives and is continuing that work beyond Playboy. She recently did a video interview with TheStreet's Anders Keitz, talking about the importance of diversity in business and the value of having more women on corporate boards.

Hefner is survived by his wife Crystal, and four grown children: Christie, David, Marston and Cooper.

Information regarding memorial services was not available Wednesday night.

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