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Why people are furious that Hugh Hefner is being buried next to Marilyn Monroe

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Kayleigh Dray
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Last week, it was confirmed that Hugh Hefner – the iconic founder of Playboy magazine – had died at his home, the Playboy Mansion, of natural causes at age 91.  It has since been confirmed that the late media icon will be buried at Westwood Village Memorial Park in Los Angeles next to Marilyn Monroe, after previously purchasing the crypt next to hers for $75,000 (approximately £56,000).

“I'm a believer in things symbolic,” Hefner told the Los Angeles Times before his death.

“Spending eternity next to Marilyn is too sweet to pass up.”

However, the controversial decision has been criticised by many people on social media.

These people are not wrong: Monroe, who died in 1962, did not get a say in whether she would want to spend the hereafter next to Hefner – a man she never once met during her lifetime, despite the fact she was both the cover and centrefold for the very first issue of Playboy.

Indeed, there is much dispute as to how the Some Like It Hot actor’s images ended up in the magazine in the first place.



According to an account in a book by her friend and photographer, George Barris, Monroe posed nude for photographer Tom Kelley back in 1948 because she was broke and struggling to make payments on her car.

Kelley promised that she wouldn't be recognisable in the photographs, said Monroe, and she was paid $50 for the two-hour shoot.

Fast forward to 1953, when a young Hefner was dreaming of starting up a new kind of men’s magazine: he heard that a local company held the rights to the famous Monroe’s nude photos, drove out to the suburbs and bought them for $500.

Speaking about the Playboy cover, Monroe reportedly told Barris: “The magazine, I was told, thanks to my photos, [was] an instant sellout all across the country, an instant success.

“I never even received a thank you from all those who made millions off a nude Marilyn photograph. I even had to buy a copy of the magazine to see myself in it.”



Hefner, speaking to E! News about the iconic Monroe images earlier this year, confirmed that his “very first Playmate” had not originally shot her photos for Playboy.

“The picture was something that had been shot before,” he said. “It was a calendar photo shot by Tom Kelley. Most people had heard about it but almost nobody had seen it and nobody had seen it because the post office had taken the position that you couldn't send nudity through the mail. And I’m the kid that didn't think the post office had that right."

He continued: “So we published that picture and it caused a sensation.”

Yes, Monroe posed naked for a photographer – but she purportedly did so in the belief that her images would remain anonymous and they would be used for a single purpose.

Instead, she had her nude photos ‘leaked’ by Hefner.

If you take away the sensation and gossip of yet another celebrity scandal, we're left with the kind of entitled, grubby online misogyny that is depressingly endemic in today's online world.

Hefner used Monroe’s naked photos without her consent and plastered them all over his magazine, with her name plastered above them, without her permission. Now, he’s set to be buried beside her – again, without her consent.

Whether you believe in life after death or not, there’s no denying that this feels like an affront to anyone who’s ever had photos uploaded online without their consent, to anyone who’s ever had an unwelcome comment about their body and to anyone who’s ever felt mortified by being objectified in circumstances that are beyond their control.



As Sady Doyle puts it in her book, Trainwreck, it’s a “gruesome joke”. And one which is becoming patently less funny by the moment.

Images: Rex Features

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is editor of Stylist.co.uk, where she chases after rogue apostrophes and specialises in films, comic books, feminism and television. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends. 

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