Former Playboy Bunnies, Playmates Show Support for Hugh Hefner in Open Letter Amid Allegations
By Samantha Schnurr
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Amid allegations waged against Hugh Hefner and his iconic brand in the new Secrets of Playboy docuseries, many of his former associates are sticking by him -- and voicing their support loudly and clearly.
Hundreds of former Playboy Bunnies, Playmates, employees and ex-girlfriends have signed an open letter in support of the late mogul, according to People, which obtained the letter.
"We sign our names to support Hugh M. Hefner. From all we know of Hef, he was a person of upstanding character, exceptional kindness, and dedication to free thought," the letter states, per People. "He demonstrated a commitment to living an honest life beyond everything else. Our time within Hugh Hefner's Playboy and the organization's subsidiaries remains a period all of us are fond of. I proudly sign this letter in recognition of Hugh Hefner's character amid unfounded allegations in the A&E show."
Among the women who participated were Kimberley Hefner, Hugh's second wife.The two wed in 1989 and were married for nine years before an 11-year separation. Hugh ultimately filed for divorce in 2009.
"All people should be encouraged to share their individual experience in this world, but no one should be emboldened to re-write the truth at the expense of another person's character," Kimberley, who welcomed sons Marston and Cooper with Hugh, said in an additional personal statement. "What the allegers who speak out now seem to ignore is that there were many of us throughout the years who were there with them as well. I'm saddened, mostly, that these accounts take light away from true victims of sexual abuse, and hope that in time those selling lies to defame Hef find peace within their own lives."
In her own personal statement, Renee Sloan Baio spoke of Hugh's former main girlfriend, Holly Madison, who was interviewed for the docuseries. "I was there as Holly had just moved in right before me. I was there when she was moving her belongings into Hef's bedroom," Sloan said. "Holly craved and eagerly longed to be the #1 girlfriend." ET has reached out to Holly's rep for comment.
Ahead of the series' premiere, Hugh's son, Cooper, spoke out in his father's defense, tweeting, "Some may not approve of the life my Dad chose, but my father was not a liar. However unconventional, he was sincere in his approach and lived honestly. He was generous in nature and cared deeply for people. These salacious stories are a case study of regret becoming revenge."
In response to the letter, A&E shared in a statement, "The stories shared in Secrets of Playboy are the personal experiences of the documentary's participants and deserve to be told despite how difficult they may be for some to hear. Signatures on a letter, or a different experience with Mr. Hefner or the Playboy culture, do not negate the experiences of those who have come forward to share their truth on the series and we look forward to continuing to bring these stories to light."
Each episode of the docuseries has featured a statement at the end that reads, "This series contains allegations of wrongdoing over decades by Hugh Hefner and others associated with him. The vast majority of allegations have not been the subject of criminal investigations or charges, and they do not constitute proof of guilt.”
Playboy said in a statement, "The Hefner family is no longer associated with Playboy, and today’s Playboy is not Hugh Hefner’s Playboy. We trust and validate these women and their stories and we strongly support those individuals who have come forward to share their experiences. As a brand with sex positivity at its core, we believe safety, security, and accountability are paramount. The most important thing we can do right now is actively listen and learn from their experiences. Today, our organization is run by a workforce that is more than 80% female and we will continue to confront any parts of our legacy that do not reflect our values today, and to build upon the progress we have made as we evolve as a company so we can drive positive change for our employees and our communities."