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Playboy founder's widow reveals new secrets about late husband: The medication that made him deaf, his rules and curfew, his go

Jun 20, 2023

Hugh Hefner's widow has a lot to say about the decade she spent with him.

The former Playboy model — who married the Playboy founder on New Year's Eve in 2012 when she was 26 and he was 86 — is working on a memoir, "Only Say Good Things: Surviving Playboy And Finding Myself," that's set to be released in 2024.

Crystal, who was by Hef's side when he died at 91 in 2017, has been teasing what will be in her book in a series of interviews, most recently with

Crystal, who's now 37, spent 10 years with Hef — five as one of his girlfriends, and five as his wife. She's hardly surprised he died just a month before the #MeToo movement exploded. "You can't fault his timing," she said in an interview published on Aug. 27, 2023.

"He dipped out right on time. Hef's lifespan of 91 years, it ended on the cusp of #MeToo. Coincidence? I think not."

Keep reading to find out what she had to say about the drug Hef insisted on taking even though it made him deaf, the dinner he ate every night after imposing a curfew on her, her plans for the future and more…

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Crystal Harris met Hugh Hefner when she was 21 and he was 81.

She recalled to that the Playboy legend — who she's painted as, as the outlet puts it, "a misogynist, a narcissist and a co-dependent, controlling presence in her life" — insisted she follow his rules down to what kind of nail polish she could wear: pink, pale and sheer, never matte.

He would also gently tap the blonde beauty on the head when her roots were showing, reported after interviewing Crystal, who was promoting her work as the co-founder and ambassador for First Ape Wives Club, which offers digital access passes and NFTs in the luxury travel world.

Keep reading for more…

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If Hugh Hefner was home at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles, a 6 p.m. curfew was in effect.

That, Crystal Hefner, explained in an interview with, ensured she was home to share his dinner — which was always chicken soup with cream cheese and crackers — and watch movies with him. (Keep reading to find out the breakfast order Hef also ate daily for years.)

Then after dark, she explained, it was expected that she would participate in the group intimate encounters Hef loved.

"It was embarrassing. I don't know the most people there'd been in our bedroom at one time but — a lot. Pretty bad," she said. "[The other women and I] were like, 'Oh, now it's your turn.' Nobody really wanted to be there but I think in Hef's mind, he still thought he was in his 40s, and those nights, the people, the mansion, solidified that idea. He felt, 'I've still got it.'"

Keep reading for more on the drug he loved to take…

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According to his widow, Crystal Hefner, Playboy founder Hugh Hefner needed medical help to perform and took so much Viagra that he lost his hearing in one ear.

But going deaf was a sacrifice he was willing to make.

"Hef always said he'd rather be deaf and still able to have sex. Weird," Crystal told

Crystal Hefner majored in psychology at San Diego State University before she was a Playmate.

She told that if she ever returns to school to get her doctorate in psychology, she'll go back to her maiden name and become Crystal Harris, Ph.D. "If I get that, it's over. Bye," she said to the Hefner name.

Nearly six years after Hugh's death, she's yet to settle down again but said that, in time, she hopes she'll remarry and start a family with a man who's not 60 years her senior like Hef was. She froze her eggs to give herself time to find the right person.

Crystal Hefner is still making sense of her time with Playboy founder Hugh Hefner and their life in the Playboy Mansion. "Looking back, I think I had a kind of Stockholm syndrome," she said. "There was part of me that always thought if this was real love, there wouldn't be other women in the bedroom. I reconciled myself to it by trying to believe that Hef loved me as best he knew how."

She was by his side when he died at the Playboy Mansion on Sept. 27, 2017, after going into cardiac arrest and suffering from respiratory failure following a bout of E. coli and septicemia, a blood infection. But she was in such "shock," wrote, that she didn't leave the mansion for two weeks. "Hef had been so old for so long it was like he was immortal," she explained.

Hugh Hefner didn't just have the same dinner every night, as widow Crystal Hefner revealed. According to JJ Reinhart, who for eight years worked as one of nine chefs in the Playboy Mansion's kitchen — which operated 24/7 — the Playboy founder ate the same breakfast every day for years.

The mansion's onetime chef de cuisine told Unilad in May 2023 that Hef, in general, liked to keep things simple and usually chose his meals from a "standard menu" of 26 items. His preferred breakfast was a "very, very simple English muffin," but after four years of that, he surprised the chefs when he requested scrambled eggs for breakfast instead. "So we make some scrambled eggs," JJ said.

The chef also said that Hef was "very specific on how he liked things prepared," noting that the media magnate once called down to the kitchen to tell JJ he'd cut a sandwich the "wrong way" and that he needed to "make sure that it's done right."

The late star was a "private eater" who had almost all of his meals in his bedroom — delivered by butlers — except for Thanksgiving dinner, which he would eat with everyone else. "I would cook 24 turkeys, just to make sure that I had a perfect one" for Hef, JJ told Unilad, noting that the boss "would always eat the turkey leg."

The mansion's chefs went above and beyond for Hef: Staff would pick out "all of the perfect potato chips" for him as well as cut him the two center pieces of bread in a loaf because those were the "softest pieces."

JJ also shared that when Hef went out on the town, he still ate food that was cooked by his staff. "If he was going out to eat, we prepared his food for him and sent it along with him," JJ told Unilad. "And then as he showed up at a restaurant, a big paper bag went right into the kitchen with specific instructions on how to prepare his meal, how to plate his meal."

According to JJ, "He was such a great boss that we did things like this, because we knew it was his expectation, but it was never an issue for us to do this for him."

In an early August 2023 interview with Us Weekly, Crystal Hefner — who moved from Los Angeles to Hawaii to reboot her life in recent years — opened up about her upcoming memoir, warning "no one is safe." The book — titled "Only Say Good Things: Surviving Playboy and Finding Myself" — isn't meant to be salacious, she insisted.

However, "there are hard stories and people that have hurt me, and they're in there," she added. In some cases, she's changed the names of women or celebrities to protect their privacy. "The stories are very detailed, and there are things that have never been spoken about before," Crystal said, adding that women who lived in the Playboy Mansion were "very catty."

In a July 2023 interview with the New York Post, Crystal Hefner revealed that she went through hours of therapy and "deprogramming" to untangle her life as Hugh Hefner's wife. The revelations came as she was teasing her upcoming memoir, due in 2024.

"It's called 'Only Say Good Things' because I [had] a conversation with Hef and he let me know: 'Once I go, when I'm gone, please only say good things about me,'" she told the newspaper. "I kept that promise for the last five years. [But] after going through a lot of therapy and healing, I realized that I needed to be honest about my time there. The book is about healing from a toxic environment."

Crystal — who married the Playboy founder 60 years her senior when she was 26 and was by his side when he passed away in 2017 — often felt that she was in a coercive relationship in which the publishing giant was dependent on her. "Towards the end of his life, I felt like I couldn't leave him. I had to take care of him," Crystal said. "It was like, 'OK, he adores me and he needs me, and he leans on me for so many different reasons and I can't leave him.' So I was there till the very end."

All these years later, however, she sees things differently. "I'm only now just kind of learning what it means to be in a healthy relationship," she said.

Crystal is still president of Hef's foundation. "It's still complicated for me," she said of her involvement. "Hef was a narcissist and a misogynist … he was a very complicated human. But he also did a lot of good. He helped a lot of people and helped stand up for things. At the same time, he also hurt people in ways that he didn't realize."