Former bodyguard shares memories of Hugh Hefner, Playboy Mansion - KPTV - FOX 12

Former bodyguard shares memories of Hugh Hefner, Playboy Mansion

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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

A Portland man who spent the early 1980s as a bodyguard for the late Hugh Hefner shared memories of the publisher Thursday.

Jim Ellis told FOX 12 he wasn't surprised to hear of Hefner's death Wednesday at the age of 91, because he knew his health was declining, adding he still looks back on his time with him all those decades ago with fond memories.

Flipping through old photos, the memories came flooding back to Ellis. He spent two years as one of Hefner’s personal bodyguards at the Playboy mansion in Beverly Hills back in 1980 and 1981.

“I was 21 years old,” he recalled. “Thought I was in heaven.”

Ellis still has a pipe Hefner personally gave him, as well as his security badge. He talked about manning a control center where guards would watch for intruders, especially during those infamous parties.

“If somebody started climbing the fence, it would set off an alarm and one of these lights would start blinking, and that would tell us where the intruder was,” he said.

It may surprise most people, but Ellis said Hefner wasn’t all flash and glamour in private, but rather a skilled businessman who kept to himself.

“Hef was, he was a very nice guy in person,” he told FOX 12. “He was quiet, kind of reserved.”

The former bodyguard said Hefner was really shaken up by the murder of John Lennon in December of 1980, a crime that reinforced his own desire for security.

“I think I got to know him a little better than some of the other guys, so we would talk a little bit,” Ellis said. “He had a requirement that anywhere he went on the property he needed to be escorted by security.”

When it comes to Hefner and his Playboy legacy, Ellis said he knows there are plenty of critics, and he would be the first to admit Hefner was no angel.

“I kind of have mixed feelings myself. I saw some things I didn’t really approve of,” he said.

Still, Ellis believes there is no debating that Hefner led a remarkable life.

“He had a pretty good run. The guy had an amazing life. He built an empire out of nothing,” Ellis said. “He ran a hell of a company. I don’t know what the future of Playboy is now, it’ll be interesting to see what happens, but it’ll never be the same, that’s for sure.”

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