The First Playboy Magazine

Featuring Marilyn Monroe in December of 1953

Hugh Hefner, American editor, publisher and founder of Playboy magazine, and his girlfriend Barbi Benton
Hugh Hefner with the Playboy bunnies. Central Press/Getty Images

In December 1953, 27-year-old Hugh Hefner published the very first Playboy magazine. This first edition of Playboy was 44-pages long and had no date on its cover because Hefner wasn't sure there would be a second edition. In that first run, Hefner sold 54,175 copies of Playboy magazine at 50 cents each. The first edition sold so well because Marilyn Monroe was the "Sweetheart of the Month" (which was thereafter termed "playmate").

On the front cover of the first edition of Playboy, Marilyn Monroe appeared waving her hand. Inside, Marilyn Monroe bared it all in the centerfold. (Monroe did not pose nude specifically for Playboy; Hefner had purchased the picture from a local printer who made calendars.)

This first edition of the magazine is also the only Playboy that does not have Hugh Hefner's name inside.

On the first page, Hefner humorously wrote, "We want to make it clear from the very start, we aren't a 'family magazine.' If you're somebody's sister, wife or mother-in-law and picked us up by mistake, please pass us along to the man in your life and get back to your ​Ladies Home Companion."

Other Notable Playboy Playmates 

Since its inception in 1953, Playboy magazine has been distributed in over 100 countries with a monthly and special editions coming out every year since 1953. During that time, a long list of celebrities "did Playboy," modeling for Hugh Hefner's magazine.

After Marilyn Monroe's groundbreaking first issue, more celebrities came to Hefner to actually pose for him.

In the March 1980 issue, Bo Derek — 80s sex symbol and star of 10 (1979) and later Tarzan, the Ape Man (1980) and Ghosts Can't Do It (1989) — posed for her first Playboy. She went on to pose again in August 1980, September 1981, July 1984 and December 1994.

 

Most notably (or at least the most popular Playboy model to date) has been Pamela Anderson, who has posed for Playboy for just over three decades starting with her first print in the October 1989 edition. She went on to pose in 13 different editions of Playboy over the last three decades, with her most recent appearance in the January 2011 edition. 

Other notable features in the magazine include Cindy Crawfordin July 1988, May 1996, and October 1998, Elle Macpherson in May 1994, Kim Basinger in February 1983, and Kim Kardashian in December 2007. 

"I Read Playboy For the Articles" 

A common colloquialism that has arisen in the wake of Playboy's modern popularity is "I read it for the articles," which is quite plausible given the caliber of columns, short stories, political cartoons, and essays by guest writers and artists. Vladimir Nabokov, Chuck Palahniuk, Margaret Atwood, and Haruki Murakami have all had short stories published in the magazine and Harvey Kurtzman, Shel Silverstein, and Jack Cole have had their cartoons featured. Playboy also features monthly interviews with both liberal and conservative "celebrities" ranging from notary architects and designers to politicians and religious figures.

 

Playboy is still in circulation today and has expanded to include an online portion of subscription services. Though since 2015 it has stopped featuring nude models — so people really do read it for the articles now!