Hugh Hefner, the nearly mythical man behind the swinging "Playboy" ethos, was not born in a smoking jacket with buxom, interchangeable women on each arm. The Mansion wasn't always there, the Grotto not always the epicenter of his sexually-charged revolution in glossy print.
Hugh grew up a clean cut Chicago kid. And he spent his formative years at Steinmetz Academic Career Centre (High School in the early 1940s when Hefner attended) where he was, by all acounts, a popular, smart, witty kid.
And, as it turns out, creative. Hefner churned out drawings, writings and other thoughts on paper for himself and lifelong friend Jane Sellers that offer clues to the relative innocent that one day would become synonymous with anything but clean living. And it's those works that are up for private sale from Lux Mentis, Booksellers - 60 years worth of correspondence between the two.
While the two were never boyfriend-girlfriend - though they did date eachother's best friends at some point, according to a Lux Mentis statement, the lifelong letter chain began when Sellers moved to California, years before Hefner would follow suit.
Ian J. Kahn of Lux Mentis explained the relationship and Hefner's chronicle of the high school friend group to BoingBoing.net:
I should point out that Hugh and Jane did not date. He dated her best friend and she his...the four were the core of what they called "The Gang". The really interesting element is that as he evolved into "HH", this group of high school friends served as a touchstone...they were the ones who loved him *before*...and he turned them off and on for many, many years. My favorite story out of this is that Jane and the other girls would go over to Hugh's to read "School Daze" to see which of their boyfriends were "stepping out"...Hugh did not edit *anything*. He took notes during the day as to what people were wearing so he could sketch them accurately that evening. It is a remarkable visual diary.
The collection also contains drawings done in and for class at Steinmetz, bits of Playboy memorabilia, invitations to parties at the mansion, music, business forms - Playboy's IPO filing among them - and all manner of other items, both profound and mundane.
Following is a selection of the collection shared between the two friends:
"My typical day at Steinmetz" hand drawn color illustration by Hefner.
More after the jump ...
"The Gang" Aug. 22, 1943 hand drawn and colored by Hefner.
"Recording for Janie" Aug. 23, 1943 hand colored, signed and illustrated by Hefner.
"Dissection of a Soft-Shell Clam" (Homework from zoology, Jan. 1, 1943 hand drawn, labeled sketch signed by Hefner
"Playboy, Issue One" signed, with illustration, by Hefner
Janie Sellers and Hugh Hefner, 17, in 1943
And those are just a hint of what's in the collection, valued at $250,000, detailing the lifelong thought process and growth behind the boy voted "Most Likely to Succeed," "Most Popular Boy," "Class Humorist," "Best Orator," "Best Dancer" and "Most Artistic."
"At 16, I knew he was destined to do amazing things, so I saved ever scrap of paper he ever sent me," Sellers says of the tome of images and writings she's savored for a lifetime.
A complete listing of the contents can be found below: