The following is from Mr. Hugh Hefner’s biography by Stephen Watts that inspired me to write this blog post. The story begins from his early days after he was married and living the conformist American life:
His various forays –the affair the bohemian apartments, the stag films, the risque parties– expressed a common desire to jettison the social conventions of postwar America.
“It was all part of the same thing. It was somehow trying to get out of that life,” he noted. “Somehow just not keep marching in lockstep to the abyss.”
Hefner’s discontent, ironically, came to a head in a moment of great joy. In December 1952, he and Jim Brophy wrote and directed the revue of stars a fund-raising variety show for the Steinmetz high school alumni Association. The old school chums serve as masters of ceremonies and perform several songs, the numbers, including a hilarious “Walking my baby back home” where Hefner serenaded Brophy, who was dressed as a woman. The crowd loved the show, and Hefner, showered with applause and laughter, was ecstatic.”
“The alumni show reinspired my faith in myself. It reminded me of a high school that’s what I truly believed I could do anything.”
This moment of euphoria quickly turned to ashes as the glow of success faded, the experience of the show only highlighted the angst that had been eveloped the rest of his life. He grew acutely despondent about his stalled career and his unhappy marriage, and the feelings almost overwhelmed him a few days later. Standing on a bridge over the Chicago River in the middle of a typically frigid winter, he looked out over the water and felt a desperate desire to recapture those warm feelings of high school life when he had been the esteemed leader of the gang, romance was in the air, and everything seemed possible.
“I stood on the bridge… and I felt as if my life was over. I put away all my dreams from childhood and I was miserable. But misery inspired decision as Hefner thought to himself, “I’ve gotta do something.”