Hustler founder, publisher, and porn magnate Larry Flynt has died at the age of 78. Flynt’s family members confirmed the news with TMZ, stating that the mogul died of heart failure at his Los Angeles home on Wednesday morning.
Flynt was one of the biggest names in the adult entertainment industry, founding the monthly sexually explicit magazine Hustler in 1974. While the magazine made him one of the most successful figures in his industry, it also made him one of the most controversial. In 1978, Flynt was shot in a murder attempt by serial killer Joseph Paul Franklin while he was fighting an obscenity case. The shooting paralyzed Flynt from the waist down, confining him to a gold wheel chair, which became a signature of his.
In 1988, Flynt won a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case in Hustler Magazine v. Falwell after televangelist and conservative pastor Reverend Jerry Falwell sued Flynt for $45 million due to his name and likeness appearing in a parody ad in Hustler. The Supreme Court declared in a unanimous decision that public figures are not able to recover damages for “infliction of emotional distress” based on parodies, holding that the interest of free speech outweighs the interest of public figures’ emotions and reputation.
Flynt’s life and historic court case served as the basis for the 1996 film The People vs. Larry Flynt, which garnered Oscar nominations for director Miloš Forman and a Best Actor nomination for Woody Harrelson for his portrayal of Flynt. Flynt also dabbled in politics, briefly running for president in 1984 and running for governor of California in the 2003 recall election. Flynt has been married five times, and is survived by his wife, Elizabeth Berrios, and six children.