Hugh Hefner's Death: Kendra Wilkinson Pays Tribute To Her 'Playboy' Magazine Founder Ex-Boyfriend

Hugh Hefner's death came as a surprise for many, including Kendra Wilkinson who has recently broken her silence after the Playboy founder's demise, saying that she became who she is today because of him.

Based on their official statement, Playboy revealed that Hugh passed away at the age of 91 at the infamous Playboy Mansion in Holmby Hills, Los Angeles.

"Hugh M. Hefner, the American icon who in 1953 introduced the world to Playboy magazine and built the company into one of the most recognizable American global brands in history, peacefully passed away today from natural causes at his home, The Playboy Mansion, surrounded by loved ones."

After news about Hugh Hefner's death emerged on Wednesday, friends and colleagues of the legendary founder of the pioneering men's magazine started to express their regret and sadness at his passing, including his Playboy model and his ex-girlfriend, Kendra Wilkinson.

Speaking to E! News, Wilkinson paid tribute to the mogul and admitted that she wouldn't have become who she was today if not for him.

"Hef changed my life," she told the outlet.

"He made me the person I am today. I couldn't be more thankful for our friendship and our time together. I will miss him so much but he will be in my heart forever."
Wilkinson, who became popular for the reality show The Girls Next Door where she co-starred with her Playboy Mansion roommates and Hugh's fellow girlfriends Bridget Marquardt and Holly Madison, maintained close ties with the 91-year-old publisher.

Months before Hugh Hefner's death, Kendra spoke to E! News about Hugh Hefner looking "very healthy" a few months prior to the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. She even noted how he might outlive everyone in an earlier conversation with the outlet.

"We had a great talk and we were very happy to see each other. You know and there were rumors that things are happening, but God, he's 91-years-old! He's gonna live longer than us!"
In August, Hugh's son, Cooper Hefner, gave an update about his father's health, admitting to the Hollywood Reporter that he found it "tough to watch him struggle" although he was relieved that "it's physical and not mental."
Based on the magazine's official statement, Hugh Hefner's death was of natural causes which might mean that he died of old age.

However, this might also mean he had some health issues that were unknown to the public as fans speculated that he had been on his deathbed since he had lost a lot of weight, Page Six reported.

At the time, Cooper denied the rumors, saying that Hugh Hefner was "doing fine" and even recalled a joke his father used to make, in a report from E! News.

"He's doing fine. My dad has always made the joke that if the mansion was your house, why would you want to leave?"
After Hugh Hefner's death, Cooper now recalls many of his father's significant contribution to the media and culture as a whole as he mourn his passing, together with his stepmother Crystal, his sister Christie, and brothers David and Marston along with the rest of his Playboy family.
"My father lived an exceptional and impactful life as a media and cultural pioneer and a leading voice behind some of the most significant social and cultural movements of our time in advocating free speech, civil rights and sexual freedom. He defined a lifestyle and ethos that lie at the heart of the Playboy brand, one of the most recognizable and enduring in history."
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[Featured Image by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images]