Hugh Hefner’s first wife was Mildred Williams, his college sweetheart, and the problems in their marriage would forever alter his views of the institution and sexuality.
Hefner had two children with Williams, including his well-known daughter Christie, although they would go on to divorce. Hefner died on September 27 at the age of 91 of natural causes, surrounded by loved ones.
His first wife, also called Millie, was perhaps one of the least known of his parade of high-profile women over the years, but, as the mother of his two children, and due to the way she altered his views of human sexuality, she has formed a lasting part of his legacy.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Hefner Married Mildred Williams in the 1940s & She Was His First Sexual Experience
According to UK Daily Mail, Hugh Hefner married his first wife, Mildred Williams, in 1949.
They divorced after a decade of marriage, according to Daily Mail. According to Cosmopolitan, Williams was Hefner’s college sweetheart: “Hefner married his college sweetheart Mildred Williams in 1949, but the two divorced in 1959,” the magazine reported, adding that Hefner attended college at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology.
Hefner saved himself for Mildred, something he openly discussed.
“His first sexual experience was with his first wife, Milly, whom he met while they were both in college,” reported UK Daily Mail, quoting him as saying of the relationship, “I think the relationship was probably held together by two years of foreplay. That wasn’t unusual for our time. In fact, most of my immediate friends didn’t have sex until they married. Milly and I had it just before.”
2. Hefner & Mildred Williams Had Two Children Together but Their Marriage Was Rocked by Infidelity
Daily Mail reports that Hefner and Mildred Williams had two children together. According to IMDB, Mildred Williams was the mother of Christie Hefner and David Hefner. Christie wаѕ born οn November 8, 1952 аnd David wаѕ born οn August 30, 1955. Of all of Hefner’s four children, David Hefner has kept the lowest profile and very little is known about him.
According to Cosmopolitan, Christie took over running Playboy Magazine.
“In 1988, Hefner named his oldest daughter, Christie Hefner, as CEO and chairperson of Playboy Enterprises, Inc. She served as CEO and chairperson from 1988 until 2008,” the magazine reports.
However, the marriage ran into deep trouble while Hefner was away in the Army. It would forever alter his viewpoints toward marriage and women.
“Hef’s first real heartbreak came prior to tying the knot, when Williams admitted to engaging in an affair during his time in the Army. In an attempt to lessen her guilt and save their relationship, Williams allowed the future mogul to become involved with other women during their marriage,” reports The Hollywood Reporter.
Hefner told Daily Mail: “I had literally saved myself for my wife, but after we had sex she told me that she’d had an affair. That was the most devastating moment in my life. My wife was more sexually experienced than I was. After that, I always felt in a sense that the other guy was in bed with us, too.”
3. Mildred Remarried & Her Second Husband Adopted Her Children
After she and Hefner divorced, Mildred didn’t stay single for long, going on to marry a second time. Hefner, meanwhile, developed his iconic image as the suave playboy surrounded by a bevy of women.
According to IMDB, Mildred’s “second husband, Edwin Gunn, adopted” Hefner’s two children for a time, “but the children changed their names back to Hefner after Mildred and Gunn separated.”
You can see another photo of Mildred with Hefner here.
4. Hefner Started Playboy Magazine Early Into His Marriage to Mildred
According to IMDB, Mildred Williams “was born on March 10, 1926 in Chicago, Illinois. EzineMark reports, “Williams met Hugh shortly аftеr high school аt a party, аnd thе couple wеrе completely smitten. Whіlе ѕhе attended thе University οf Illinois, Hefner deployed wіth thе Army. Thе couple kept іn touch through lіkе letters аnd following hіѕ safe return… Hefner аnd Williams married οn June 25, 1949.”
Hefner founded Playboy magazine while the marriage was still young. “After serving in the Army, attending college and working for number of years in the magazine publishing industry, Mr. Hefner became convinced that there was a market for an upscale men’s magazine,” a press release from Playboy said after Hefner’s death. “By putting up his furniture as collateral for a loan and borrowing the rest from family and friends, Mr. Hefner published the very first issue of Playboy in December of 1953. The magazine was an instant sensation.”
5. Hefner Was Married Two Other Times
Hefner didn’t marry again until 1989, when he tied the knot with Kimberley Conrad. They divorced in 2010, and he married again, in 2012, to Crystal Harris. He went on to have two more children, both with Conrad (Cooper and Marston.)
According to The Hollywood Reporter, “The couple had two children before separating in 1998, at which point Conrad and the two boys moved out of the Playboy mansion and into a house next door. It wasn’t until 20 years later that Hefner and Conrad officially divorced.”
You can read more about Hugh Hefner and Kimberley Conrad here: