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Playboy features monthly interviews of notable public figures, such as artists, architects, economists, composers, conductors, film directors, journalists, novelists, playwrights, religious figures, politicians, athletes, and race car drivers.The magazine generally reflects a liberal editorial stance, although it often interviews conservative celebrities.“Just as this country is embracing change in the form of new leadership, I have decided that now is the time to make changes in my own life as well,” she said.The magazine celebrated its 50th anniversary with the January 2004 issue.By spring 1953, Hugh Hefner—a 1949 University of Illinois psychology graduate who had worked in Chicago for Esquire magazine writing promotional copy; Publisher's Development Corporation in sales and marketing; and Children's Activities magazine as circulation promotions manager However, the publisher of an unrelated men's adventure magazine, Stag, contacted Hefner and informed him it would file suit to protect their trademark if he were to launch his magazine with that name.The first issue, in December 1953, was undated, as Hefner was unsure there would be a second. The first centerfold was Marilyn Monroe, although the picture used originally was taken for a calendar rather than for Playboy.On the cover was model Pam Rawlings, photographed by Rowland Scherman.Perhaps coincidentally, a cropped image of the issue's centerfold (which featured Lena Söderberg) became a de facto standard image for testing image processing algorithms.
Hefner said he chose the rabbit for its "humorous sexual connotation", and because the image was "frisky and playful".
From 1966 to 1976, Robie Macauley was the Fiction Editor at Playboy.
During this period the magazine published fiction by Saul Bellow, Seán Ó Faoláin, John Updike, James Dickey, John Cheever, Doris Lessing, Joyce Carol Oates, Vladimir Nabokov, Michael Crichton, John le Carré, Irwin Shaw, Jean Shepherd, Arthur Koestler, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Bernard Malamud, John Irving, Anne Sexton, Nadine Gordimer, Kurt Vonnegut and J. Donleavy, as well as poetry by Yevgeny Yevtushenko.
As a hommage to the magazine 50th anniversary, MAC Cosmetics released two limited-edition products, namely a lipstick and a glitter cream.
The magazine runs several annual features and ratings. For 2009, the magazine used five considerations: bikini, brains, campus, sex and sports in the development of its list.
In January 2011, the publisher of Playboy magazine agreed to an offer by Hefner to take the company private for .15 per share, an 18 percent premium over the price of the last previous day of trading.