At the time of his death, Playboy founder Hugh Hefner was married to 31-year-old Crystal Harris, whom he wed in 2012. So who is Crystal Harris, and how did she come to meet and marry Hugh Hefner?
Harris was a 22-year-old student at San Diego State University in 2008 when she met Hugh Hefner at a Halloween party at the Playboy Mansion. She wasn’t working for Playboy at the time, but she did send in a picture of herself in order to be invited to the party, as she explained on the Howard Stern Show.
Harris has said that she immediately found Hugh Hefner fascinating.
“When I first met him, I had never even met a celebrity in my life before,” she said in 2013. “I was like “Oh my gosh Hef” and then we started talking. And we both studied psychology in school. He’s very intriguing, I’ll ask him a million questions. I’ll ask him everything and we’ll watch all of his documentaries and he loves revisiting all of that stuff.”
Two weeks after the party, Crystal Harris moved into the Playboy Mansion with Hugh Hefner. Almost immediately, she appeared semi-nude in a series of photos as Co-ed of the Week on the Playboy website, according to The New York Daily News. It was reported in the press that this was Hugh Hefner’s new girlfriend.
In December 2009, Crystal Harris was the Playboy Playmate of the Month. Hefner had previously been married to a Playboy Playmate of the Month, as his second wife, Kimberley Conrad, was Playmate of the Month for January 1988 and then became Playmate of the Year for 1989. Harris told Howard Stern that she never expected she could become a Playmate.
“It was intriguing to me,” she said. “I never thought I could be a Playmate, ever…I never knew if I could, I never really felt pretty enough, but I’d look at Playboy and be like, ‘Wow, these women are beautiful.'”
Crystal Harris and Hugh Hefner became engaged in December 2010, two years after they met. Hefner had asked Harris to marry him on Christmas Eve. “When I gave Crystal the ring, she burst into tears,” Hugh Hefner said at the time. “This is the happiest Christmas weekend in memory.”
They were scheduled to get married in June 2011, but just five days before the wedding, Harris broke off the engagement. At this point, Harris did a whole series of interviews, including an appearance on the Howard Stern show in which she said that Hefner did not last long in bed and that she never saw him naked. She said during one radio appearance, “I called it off because I didn’t think it was the right thing for me to do. It was mutual between Hef and I. There was no fight, we sat down and we talked about it.”
But later, the two got back together, and they were finally married on New Year’s Eve 2012. According to PEOPLE, the wedding took place at the Playboy Mansion in front of a small group of family and friends. Hefner tweeted at the time, “Crystal & I married on New Year’s Eve in the Mansion with Keith as my Best Man. Love that girl!” This was Hefner’s third marriage.
Hefner and Harris remained married until his death. Outside of work with Playboy, Harris has also recorded songs with Organica Music Group, designed swimwear, and run a travel blog. In 2016, she revealed on social media that she had been diagnosed with Lyme disease. On Facebook, she said that over the past few years she has experienced “intolerance to foods and beverages, unexplained back pain, constant neck and shoulder pain, cognitive dysfunction (brain fog, memory loss), stunted hair growth, incapacitating fatigue, burning bladder pain, low immunity, recurring infections and problems with my thyroid and adrenals.”
Back in 2013, US Weekly reported that Hefner had not added his Crystal Harris to his will and that his entire fortune would be going to his children.