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Hugh Hefner's Widow Reveals His Last Words

Crystal Hefner opens up about the Playboy founder, including his final days, in her new book.

Despite Hugh Hefner telling his third wife, Crystal Hefner, to "only say good things" about him, she's telling her story—including what it was like to be married to the Playboy founder—in her new book. She writes in Only Say Good Things: Surviving Playboy and Finding Myself about her relationship with the magazine publisher, who died in 2017 at the age of 91. Crystal and Hugh were married for five years, and she spent his final days with him. But Crystal admits in her memoir that she was never in love with him. She also shares what his last words were before he passed away.

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As reported by Us Weekly, Crystal and Hugh met at the Playboy Mansion Halloween party in 2008. He soon asked her to move into the mansion and became his "main girlfriend." They became engaged in 2010—though Crystal says that he "never actually asked [her] to marry him" and that she never really said yes. Despite the lack of a proposal, they got married two years later.

"I was never in love with Hef, but I loved this old man in the ways you are supposed to love your elders," Crystal writes, as reported by the magazine. "In the ways you are supposed to love someone who is nearing the end of a long and complicated life."

Because of the loyalty she felt to him, Crystal was with Hugh as he died. Shortly after his September 2017 passing, Playboy announced that he had died of natural causes, as reported by CBS News. However, E! News reported in October 2017 that his death certificate provided more details about his cause of death. According to that document, Hugh died after going into cardiac arrest and respiratory failure. His death certificate also lists an E. coli bacteria infection and septicemia (blood poisoning from bacteria) as contributing to his death.

Hugh and Crystal Hefner at a Playboy event in 2012
Tibrina Hobson/WireImage via Getty Images

In her book, Crystal shares that Hugh's E. coli infection was "aggressive" and "highly resistant to antibiotics and difficult to treat." She says that she held his hand as he was given antibiotics via an IV and that his last words were "I'm OK."

Crystal previously opened up about staying with Hugh until his death in a July 2023 interview with the New York Post. "Towards the end of his life, I felt like I couldn't leave him. I had to take care of him," she 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."

After Hugh's death, Crystal began to confront how life at the Playboy Mansion with her husband really affected her. She said that it took therapy and "deprogramming" to move on from the "arrested development" she had been living. Crystal, now 37, revealed that Hugh had strict rules for her during their marriage, including a curfew and a travel ban. Her account of the mansion and Hugh's "toxic" behavior lines up with some accounts of his other exes.

"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,'" Crystal told the New York Post. "I kept that promise for the last five years. 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."

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Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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