The First One – Many Years Ago

By | Sep 29, 2009

During the fall of 1953, a 27 year old writer came up with an idea for a magazine. He threw all of his time, effort and money into its development. There was hopes that it would be a success. Without a clue on whether there would be money for a second issue, the first one didn’t have a date on the cover. Nor did it have the name of the person who put it together and wrote the 44 page magazine. This was the first issue of Playboy Magazine, released in December 1953 and the creative effort of Hugh Hefner.

It was a success with the 50 cent magazine selling 54,175 of the 70,000 copies printed. This was in part to the addition of a 1949 nude photo of Marilyn Monroe that Hefner had purchase for use in his magazine from photographer Tom Kelley, Sr.

The alluring shot of the rising actress lying on red velvet was originally for a calendar. It would be considered mild today, but at the time was just short of a scandal. It did show that nudity and sexuality was a natural part of life.

Fiction had been a staple of Playboy since this first issue. There was a reprint of a Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Sherlock Holmes’ story. Music as well with an article on the Dorsey Brothers. Hefner also had an article describing a desk design for the modern office.

Playboy was not the original title. Hefner’s first title was Stag Party and instead of the now famous Playboy Rabbit, the mascot was to be a dapper buck. However there was a outdoors magazine Stag that threaten to sue over trademark infringement so the name was changed to Playboy and the buck changed to the rabbit.

As for myself, like many who came of age during the time Playboy, my first introduction to the magazine was in finding copies that my father had hidden. This was in the early 70s and the magazines were those of the late 60s. I enjoyed the pictorials as well as the centerfold, but it really was the magazine as a whole that I enjoyed. Especially the cartoon Little Annie Fanny.


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