Penthouse publisher and founder Bob Guccione died of cancer yesterday in Plano, Texas, at the Plano Society Hospital. Born in Brooklyn, he almost became a priest but rejected the idea. While working in England, the success of Playboy inspired him to create a similar magazine. Despite a small budget, Penthouse became a huge hit after it’s debut in 1969. It was the dirty older brother to Playboy, and caused a firestorm when it ran nude photos of then Miss America Vanessa Williams, which caused her to resign and forfeit her crown.
Guccione spent the last years of his life battling creditors, and cancer, but he did live a pretty lavish lifestyle. His former mansion in New York is said to be one of the largest private residences in Manhattan. He used some of his fortune to help finance the infamous movie Caligula which starred Malcolm McDowell and Helen Mirren. He also created the magazines Omni, and Viva. With the latter, he gave Anna Wintour her first editing job. I wonder if she still had the same haircut back then.
Bob, you were quite fabulous while you were here.