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September 29, 2017

SCA Donor Hugh Hefner Dies

By Jessica Romer

Hollywood legend Hugh Hefner, who passed away on September 27 at age 91, was a longtime friend, supporter, and benefactor of the School of Cinematic Arts, having generously donated to the School.

In 1992, Hefner supported the creation of the Cinema and Media Studies course “Censorship in Cinema” taught by Professor Drew Casper. Each semester, Hefner would participate in a frank Q&A and discussion with students about censorship in Hollywood. A few years later in 1996, Hefner endowed the Hugh M. Hefner Chair for the Study of American film, which was held by film historian and scholar Professor Rick Jewell.


When the new School of Cinematic Arts Complex was being built, Hefner made a  donation to establish the Hugh M. Hefner Exhibition Hall and the Hugh M. Hefner Moving Image Archive. The exhibition hall, located in the School’s Mary Pickford Lobby, features rotating installations with classic Hollywood memorabilia. The moving image archive, located in the basement of Eileen Norris Theater Complex, houses more than eight decades of student films, including the early works of alumni George Lucas, Robert Zemeckis, John Turteltaub, and countless others.


Hefner said he established the exhibition hall and archive to help support the dreams of the School’s students. He said: “I’ve always believed that following one’s dreams is very important. I’m proud to support the USC School of Cinematic Arts, which offers dialogue and personal interaction between scholars, educators, industry veterans, and the students who are pursuing their dreams to become the storytellers of the future.”


Hefner was a lifelong film aficionado and cared deeply about the preservation of film history as well as the future of the entertainment industry. He even pursued his own cinematic dreams. As the Editor-in-Chief of Playboy Magazine and COO of Playboy Enterprises, Hefner produced Roman Polanski’s Macbeth, Donald Driver’s The Naked Ape, the Monty Python’s first film And Now For Something Completely Different, and hundreds of other films and documentaries.