Hugh Hefner’s Son Defends His Father Ahead of “Secrets of Playboy” Fallout

Cooper Hefner has come to his father's defense amid allegations of sexual misconduct and wrongdoing leveraged in A&E's new docuseries

Playboy Founder Hugh Hefner (R) and and his son Cooper Hefner (L) attend the 2013 Playmate Of The Year announcement at The Playboy Mansion on May 9, 2013 in Beverly Hills, California.
Hugh Hefner and his son, Cooper in 2013.
Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic

A&E’s highly anticipated new docuseries, Secrets of Playboy, premiered earlier this week, unveiling numerous allegations of abuse and wrongdoing within Hugh Hefner’s empire from Playboy insiders of yore. Pulling back the curtain on the de rigueur tales of sex, drugs and debauchery one might expect to have been going down at the Playboy mansion in its heyday, the series reveals the darker side of the supposedly glamorous Playboy lifestyle, airing a number of accusations of sexual misconduct, illegal drug use and other forms of wrongdoing on behalf of Hefner and other members of Playboy’s inner circle (including, perhaps most notably and least surprisingly, one Bill Cosby).

In advance of anticipated backlash, the late Playboy founder’s son, Cooper Hefner, took to Twitter on Sunday to defend his father ahead of the series’ Monday premiere.

“Some may not approve of the life my Dad chose, but my father was not a liar,” the younger Hefner wrote. “However unconventional, he was sincere in his approach and lived honestly. He was generous in nature and cared deeply for people. These salacious stories are a case study of regret becoming revenge.”

As I’ve previously written, Playboy and its founder have heretofore largely managed to dodge the modern reckoning one might expect a brand of Playboy’s repute to have faced in recent years. This evasion seems to have been largely thanks to Hefner’s well-timed death mere weeks before the Harvey Weinstein allegations launched the Me Too movement, as well as the brand’s declining relevance in the latter half of the 2010s. In more recent years, however, Playboy has effectively rebranded as a modern, inclusive platform divorced almost entirely from Hefner and his descendants (Cooper Hefner served as Playboy’s chief creative officer for a few years in the late 2010s before leaving the company for the Air Force).

The new Playboy, for its part, has met the criticism and allegations leveraged in the doc head on, and with a commendable level of grace and gravitas.

“Today’s Playboy is not Hugh Hefner’s Playboy. We trust and validate these women and their stories and we strongly support those individuals who have come forward to share their experiences,” the brand said in a statement shared with Insider. “We will never be afraid to confront the parts of our legacy as a company that do not reflect our values today. As an organization with a more than 80% female workforce, we are committed to our ongoing evolution as a company and to driving positive change for our communities.”

The younger Hefner’s victim-blaming defense of his father, on the other hand, comes as a predictable, if no less disappointing, response to a long overdue reckoning.

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