The first Playboy magazine was issued in December 1953 and was undated, as Hefner was unsure there would be a second issue. He produced it in his Hyde Park kitchen. The first centerfold was Marilyn Monroe, although the picture used originally was taken for a calendar rather than for Playboy.

Hefner chose what he deemed the "sexiest" image, a previously unused nude study of Marilyn stretched with an upraised arm on a red velvet background with closed eyes and mouth open. The heavy promotion centered around Marilyn's nudity on the already-famous calendar, together with the teasers in marketing, made the new Playboy magazine a success.


The first issue sold out in weeks. Known circulation was 53,991. The cover price was 50¢. Copies of the first issue in mint to near mint condition sold for over $5,000 in 2002.