Playboy proceeds benefit religious causes in Nebraska

Friday, September 29, 2017

Nebraskans are proud of their famous children, from Ward Bond, Henry Fonda, Johnny Carson and Dick Cavett to Larry the Cable Guy — for a small state, we seem to have more than our share of popular, talented people.

Most of us weren’t aware that one of the founders of the sexual revolution of the 1960s sprang from roots right here in Southwest Nebraska.

A story in the Lincoln Journal Star cited British columnist Katharine Whitehorn who wrote that the Playboy magazine and empire is “a Midwestern Methodist’s vision of sin.”

Exactly, as Journal Star reporter Chris Dunker pointed out.

In short, Hugh Hefner’s parents Glenn and Grace Hefner were from nearby Atlanta, Neb. and Holdrege, Neb., respectively, were childhood sweethearts and attended Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln, becoming teachers and marrying in Chicago, where they became parents to Hugh and brother Keith.

Glenn became accountant and treasurer for his son’s magazine, and the couple left their money to a Holdrege nursing home and hospital, and nearly a million dollars went to Nebraska Wesleyan for scholarships and a fitness center.

Over the years, the Nebraska-Playboy connection played itself out in other ways, with the Wesleyan band visiting Chicago’s Playboy Club for dinner in the 1960s, and Omaha being home to a Playboy Club for four years, opening in 1984 before all of the clubs were closed in 1988.

Criticized as a “pipe-smoking hedonist,” Hefner in 2011 told the AP “part of the reason that I am who I am is my Puritan roots run deep. My folks are Puritan. My folks are prohibitionists. There was no drinking in my home. No discussion of sex. And I think I saw the hurtful and hypocritical side of that from very early on.”

Now that Hefner has passed on, it’s ironic that so much of the proceeds of enterprise has gone toward causes he rebelled against. In the end, perhaps the Puritan prohibitionists have had the last laugh.

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