Hugh Hefner will be buried next to Marilyn Monroe, the Hollywood star whose radiant looks helped launch his publishing career. The Playboy founder, who died Wednesday from natural causes at age 91, purchased the crypt next to Monroe’s at L.A. cemetery Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park for $75,000 in 1992.
Monroe appeared on the first-ever Playboy cover in 1953 – with her nude, color photo becoming the magazine’s inaugural “Sweetheart of the Month” centerfold (later renamed the “Playmate”). Almost six decades later, the controversial publishing mogul told CBS Los Angeles that he still felt a “double connection” to the model-actress, who died in 1962. “She was the launching key to the beginning of Playboy,” he said. “[And] we were born the same year.”
In 2009, the Playboy mogul told The L.A. Times he had many friends buried in this particular cemetery – plus, he couldn’t imagine a bigger marquee for his resting place. “I’m a believer in things symbolic,” he said. “Spending eternity next to Marilyn is too sweet to pass up.”
However, as Monroe told biographer George Barris in her memoir, Marilyn: Her Life in Her Own Words, she was “embarrassed, even ashamed” of the nude photos. She posed for pinup photographer Tom Kelley as a young, struggling actress – signing the images “Mona Monroe” and earning a $50 modeling fee. Hefner secured the photos four years later from a Chicago calendar company, after Monroe had risen to fame in films like All About Eve.
Despite choosing his final resting place next to Monroe, Hefner never wound up meeting the actress – though they did talk once over the the phone. “She was gone, sadly, before I came out here,” he told CNN in 2011.