The death certificate of Playboy founder Hugh Hefner said that he died of cardiac arrest and respiratory failure while battling E. coli.
He was also battling septicemia, or blood poisoning, for six days prior to his death on Sept. 27, according to the New York Post, citing the certificate.
The doctor explained that his infection was “highly resistant to antibiotics.”
Hefner died in his mansion in Los Angeles. He was 91 years old. When he died, he was surrounded by his four children and his wife.
His wife, Crystal, issued her first statement on his passing.
“I am heartbroken. I am still in disbelief,” she told People magazine. “He gave me life. He gave me direction. He taught me kindness. I will feel eternally grateful to have been by his side, holding his hand, and telling him how much I love him. He changed my life, he saved my life. He made me feel loved every single day.”
After his death, some criticized his career, saying that he pushed out pornography and exploited women. In a bombastic New York Times editorial, writer Ross Douhat pilloried Hefner as a “ pornographer and chauvinist” who got rich via the “exploitation of women.”
“The arc of his life vindicated his moral critics, conservative and feminist: What began with talk of jazz and Picasso and other signifiers of good taste ended in a sleazy decrepitude that would have been pitiable if it wasn’t still so exploitative,” Douhat opined.
But some—like his wife Crystal—called him an “American hero” and “a pioneer,” People magazine reported.
Hefner faced obscenity charges in 1963 for publishing and circulating near-nude photos of actress Jayne Mansfield, but he was acquitted.
In-depth interviews with historical figures such as Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and John Lennon were also featured in Playboy regularly.
Hefner proved to be a genius at branding. The magazine’s rabbit silhouette became one of the best known logos in the world and the “bunny” waitresses in his Playboy nightclubs were instantly recognizable.
Hef, as he began calling himself in high school, was also a living logo for Playboy, presiding over his domain in silk pajamas and a smoking jacket while puffing on a pipe.
“He defined a lifestyle and ethos that lie at the heart of the Playboy brand, one of the most recognizable and enduring in history,” his son, Cooper, told MailOnline. “He will be greatly missed by many, including his wife Crystal, my sister Christie and my brothers David and Marston, and all of us at Playboy Enterprises.”
Hefner, a Chicago native, was buried on Saturday in a funeral plot at Westwood Village Memorial Park in Los Angeles next to Marilyn Monroe.