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'He was the problematic one': Holly Madison recalls her 'biggest fear' in ending relationship with Hugh Hefner

Madison appeared as a co-star in the reality show The Girls Next Door, which aired from 2005 to 2010 and followed her and other Hefner girlfriends
Holly Madison talked about her past relationship with Hugh Hefner and shared her true feelings on a podcast (Photo: Gareth Cattermole, David Klein/Getty Images)
Holly Madison talked about her past relationship with Hugh Hefner and shared her true feelings on a podcast (Photo: Gareth Cattermole, David Klein/Getty Images)

Model Holly Madison recalls that her relationship with late Playboy publisher Hugh Hefner, whom she dated from 2001 to 2008, was unhealthy. She spoke to The Viall Files on a podcast on August 3, Wednesday and shared why she'd gone public with her true feelings.

Madison moved into the Playboy Mansion at the age of 21 after being a frequent visitor for over a year. The former Playboy magazine devotee from Oregon eventually became the founder's girlfriend. To the outside world, the couple appeared to be very happy. Holly was so taken with Hefner that she was determined to marry him and establish a family with him. Unfortunately for her, Hefner reportedly told her that he didn't want to marry for the third time and that the couple was having trouble having a baby. She eventually broke up with him and moved out of the mansion in 2008. Hefner dropped a casket full of his personal sex recordings in the ocean decades before his death at the age of 91 in 2017.


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Madison recalls Playboy Mansion

Madison appeared as a co-star in the reality show 'The Girls Next Door', which aired from 2005 to 2010 and followed her and other Hefner girlfriends, Bridget Marquardt and Kendra Wilkinson, in their lives at the Playboy Mansion. Madison stated that there was no single incident that caused her to leave Hefner's estate. 

"It was a combination of things that finally made me ready to leave. It was like, you know, getting into my late 20s and realizing that I wanted to have kids someday and also, I'd started working more, whether it was through the show and also like working at the Playboy Studio," Madison said. "I started to get a lot more confidence because I was working. And that helped."  

Hefner was the problematic one

She went on to explain how she felt when she was left alone in the mansion with Hefner who allegedly verbally abused her. She said, "But also, like, a strange thing kind of happened toward the end of the relationship where the other girls were leaving and it was just me, and he started to get really verbally abusive toward me..." Madison said. "He liked to, you know, encourage drama between the other girls, and he didn’t have that anymore. So it was just me realizing that he was the problematic one. Like, I could no longer say, 'Oh, I'm miserable here because of the other girls. Oh, if the other girls weren't so mean.' Not that Bridget or Kendra were mean. There was a long history of, like, other women that lived there before that, so I don't want anybody to think I am talking about either of them. But, for a long time I made excuses, saying, 'Oh, it’s just the other girls. If they weren’t here, you know, this could be a fun situation. But then when it was just me and him, I realized… this is what I'm dealing with, I can't do it anymore."

Madison's fears during the breakup

Madison recalled things that used to scare her about leaving the relationship with Hefner. She said on Nick Viall's podcast, "For me, I think the scariest thing about leaving the relationship was — because I'd been in this hit TV show and been presented in a certain way, and everybody kinda thought they knew me, and I was kinda synonymous with the Playboy brand, and I didn't really know if I'd be able to go out and, like, lead a normal life or date like a normal person, so that was a big fear for me," 

Girls Next Door and more

According to Madison, it is important to share her story with the public. She feels the need to share the good ones as well as the bad ones. She explains, "On Girls Next Door, our lifestyle was packaged to look just very fun and happy and almost like family friendly in a way," And after I left the show I was kinda like just going out living my life and I'd run into people every day who would come up to me and just have assumptions about my life or think they knew how things were, and it really started to bother me after a while because I felt like, when I would just respond to these people and say what I thought was the nice thing to say, like, 'Oh, yeah, everybody's great or whatever.'I started to feel like I was living a lie, and it just really started to weigh on me." 

Madison connects with people 

Madison stated that her story has helped her connect with others. She said, "I mean, obviously the situation I was in was very unusual, and I think because it was so unusual, I was able to make excuses for it for a long time because, obviously, you get into it knowing it's not like a typical relationship," Madison said. "So I made a lot of excuses for it but I found that you know, my story connects with a lot of people, and they see echoes of it sometimes in their own relationships that they then got out of."