Larry Flynt, the controversial founder of Hustler magazine and president of Larry Flynt Productions, died Wednesday at the age of 78. Flynt's brother, Jimmy Flynt confirmed the death in a report from The Washington Post, revealing to the publication that his brother died in his home on Feb. 10. While the cause of death was not disclosed to the newspaper, TMZ reports that family sources allege he died of heart failure.
Known as a provocative figure at the height of the porn industry for nearly, 50 years, Flynt launched in the 1970s, designed to compete against Hugh Hefner's Playboy magazine. After publishing Hustler in 1974, Flynt expanded on the venture with three television channels branded as Hustler TV. Riddled with concerns from various religious institutions and the law, Flynt was thrust further into the spotlight with a number of legal issues concerning the evolution of adult movies and First Amendment rights. These court battles were the focus of Milos Forman's 1996 Academy Award-nominated film The People vs. Larry Flynt, starring Woody Harrelson with the Hustler founder guest-starring as a judge.
Amid the ongoing legal battles the Kentucky native faced in the 1970s, he also sustained a serious injury in March 1978 after he was shot leaving a Georgia courthouse after a hearing. It was later revealed that the gunman was the serial killer, Joseph Paul Franklin. As a result of the shooting, Flynt was left partially paralyzed from the waist down and suffered permanent spinal cord damage. He subsequently utilized a gold-plated, velvet-lined wheelchair following the incident. Franklin did not confess to the attempted murder until years after the fact. Franklin claimed that he shot Flynt because he saw an interracial photo shoot in Hustler that enraged him. The gunman was eventually sentenced to death, but Flynt did express his opposition to the death penalty in 2013 to no avail.
In addition to being a figure in the adult entertainment industry, Flynt also dabbled in politics. He ran for president briefly in 1984 and ran for Gov. of California in a 2003 recall election. Variety noted that Flynt vocally opposed former President Donald Trump and offered a $10 million reward in 2017 for anyone with evidence that could lead to his impeachment. Flynt is survived by his fifth wife, Elizabeth Berrios, his many children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.