'Hustler' Publisher Dies at 78

Larry Flynt built an adult entertainment empire
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 10, 2021 6:31 PM CST
'Hustler' Publisher Dies at 78
Larry Flynt comments on the resignation of former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, during an interview with The Associated Press in his office in Beverly Hills, Calif. on March 14, 2008.   (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)

Porn purveyor Larry Flynt, who built Hustler magazine into an adult entertainment empire while championing First Amendment rights, died Wednesday, the AP reports. He was 78. Flynt had been in frail health and died of heart failure at his Hollywood Hills home, said his nephew, Jimmy Flynt Jr. From his beginnings as an Ohio strip club owner to his reign as founder of one of the most explicit adult-oriented magazines, Flynt constantly challenged the establishment and became a target for the religious right and feminist groups. Flynt scored a surprising US Supreme Court victory over the Rev. Jerry Falwell, who had sued him for libel after a 1983 Hustler alcohol ad suggested Falwell had lost his virginity to his mother in an outhouse. Flynt’s company produced not only Hustler but other niche publications. He owned a video production company, various websites, a LA-area casino, and 10 Hustler boutiques. He also licensed the Hustler name to strip clubs.

His publishing and financial successes were offset in equal measure by controversies and tragedies. Shot by a sniper in 1978, Flynt was paralyzed from the waist down and used a wheelchair the rest of his life. He fought battles with drug and alcohol addiction, and his fourth wife died of a heroin overdose. His daughter, Lisa Flynt-Fugate, died in a 2014 car crash in Ohio at age 47. With a fortune estimated at more than $100 million, Flynt spent his later years in the political arena. In 2003, he ran to replace recalled California Gov. Gray Davis. A self-described progressive, Flynt was no fan of Donald Trump. Before the 2016 election, he offered payment of up to $1 million for video or audio recordings of Trump engaging in illegal or “sexually demeaning or derogatory” activity. In 2017, Flynt offered a $10 million reward for evidence that would lead to Trump’s impeachment. Flynt’s life was depicted in the acclaimed 1996 film The People vs. Larry Flynt.

(Read more obituary stories.)

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