The heavily redacted, 58-page document begins with old newspaper clippings from the ‘50s chronicling the magazine's censorship battle with the federal government before moving on to FBI reports that contain interviews and summaries about Hefner's activities.
The file revealed the bureau interviewed Hefner in the late 1950s and early 1960s over what the agency called “obscene material.” Hefner told the FBI that "Playboy" was like “Esquire” Magazine – his former employer – but with "a wider circulation." The files indicate Hefner emphatically denied being involved in any “obscene matters.”
In a 1958 memo written to then-Director J. Edgar Hoover, an agent suggests putting Hefner and his photographer, identified as Edward Oppman, under surveillance to see if they were breaking obscenity laws by transporting “pornographic images” across state lines...
But in 1963, local authorities arrested Hefner in Chicago for publishing “obscene and suggestive” photos of actress Jayne Mansfield in the June issue of "Playboy." Hefner beat the charges in a trial when the jury couldn't agree upon a verdict.
Releasing a redacted version of an individuals FBI file after they have died is not an unusual practice for the FBI. Still, the question remains: what redacted parts of the file does the FBI still not want the public to see"?