Inside Hugh Hefner's final days and why the Playboy boss hid his CANCER diagnosis

The founder and editor-in-chief of Playboy magazine died in 2017 of sepsis, but had been hiding his cancer diagnosis for several months

Inside Hugh Hefner's final days and why the Playboy boss hid his CANCER diagnosis
Hugh Hefner spent his last days in the Playboy mansion (Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Playboy)
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LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA: The late founder and editor-in-chief of 'Playboy' magazine, Hugh Hefner had reportedly been diagnosed with cancer months before his death on September 27, 2017. According to Radar, Hefner's health had been "deteriorating rapidly. He also stopped eating, which [was] a sure sign the end [was] near."

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In May 2017, four months before his eventual passing, the media mogul's doctors had apparently stated that his death was "just a matter of time. The verdict [was that] it [would] be a miracle if he lasted more than three weeks." Aged 91, Hefner died in 2017 of sepsis brought on by an E. coli infection. He is interred in the crypt beside Marilyn Monroe, about which he had famously declared, "Spending eternity next to Marilyn is an opportunity too sweet to pass up." 

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(L to R) Playboy bunny Sheila Levell, Playboy founder Hugh Hefner and Playboy bunny Holly Madison perform a scene during the filming of a commercial for
(L to R) Playboy bunny Sheila Levell, Playboy founder Hugh Hefner and Playboy bunny Holly Madison at the Playboy Mansion (Robert Mora/Getty Images)

According to reports, Hefner's close circle had been making funeral plans long before his death in September 2017. Soon, everything was sorted, down to the last detail of his final resting place - the Westwood Village Memorial Park. Hefner had already purchased the crypt next to Hollywood starlet Marilyn Monroe for $75,000 in 1992. Incidentally, Monroe was also the first cover girl of the infamous magazine. 

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All arrangements had been sorted and the boss of Playboy was also aware of this. He too had straightened out his plans and put his affairs in order months before his passing, including the deal to sell off the Playboy Mansion for a whopping $100 million. He was, however, allowed to live off his final days there. Sources reveal that at 91, he was almost entirely confined to his bedroom in the mansion and could only move around in a wheelchair. 

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Hugh Hefner (C) poses with Playboy Bunnies, Playmate of the Year 2013 Raquel Pomplun (2nd L) and Miss December 2009 Crystal Hefner (2nd R) at Playboy's 60th Anniversary special event on January 16, 2014 in Los Angeles, California.
Hugh Hefner (C) poses with Playboy Bunnies, Playmate of the Year 2013 Raquel Pomplun (2nd L) and Miss December 2009 Crystal Hefner (2nd R) at Playboy's 60th Anniversary special event (Rachel Murray/Getty Images for Playboy)

Notably, Hefner's condition worsened after the death of his brother Keith Hefner on April 8, 2016. Losing his brother merely one day before his own 90th birthday took a toll on the nonagenarian. "He was never right after his brother died the day before Hef’s 90th birthday," an insider told Radar.

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A man infamous for the objectification of women and promoting hypermasculinity, Hefner hid his cancer diagnosis because he viewed it as a sign of weakness. According to the insider, "This [was] a very proud man who spent his lifetime epitomizing the sexual prowess of the red-blooded male. He’d rather be remembered as the virile stud with millions of hot girlfriends."

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Playboy founder Hugh Hefner (2nd L) and his friends Bridget Marquardt (L), Holly Madison (3rd L) and Kendra Wilkinson (R) pose for a picture during a party to celebrate his 80th birthday, and 50 years of Playboy, at Villa Miani on June 1, 2006 in Rome, Italy.
Playboy founder Hugh Hefner (2nd L) and his friends Bridget Marquardt (L), Holly Madison (3rd L) and Kendra Wilkinson (R) pose for a picture during a party to celebrate his 80th birthday, and 50 years of Playboy (Elisabetta Villa/Getty Images)

The topic of Hefner's death had been floated in the media several times during his lifetime. He had suffered a stroke in 1985 but survived. Then there were a series of calls made to 911 between 2015 to 2017 regarding guests who were described as “drunk, unresponsive…and unconscious.” Very recently, in October 2020, three years after his death, a woman called Emergency Services claiming there were dead bodies buried on the premises. "You’d know him by name," she said, talking about the dead man, insisting he was famous. "They say he was buried in the yard, and I think another person [was] buried with him – a 15-year-old boy!" she added. 

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