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September 19, 2014

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Hef at 85: ‘Age is just a number’

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Tom Donoghue/DonoghuePhotography.com

Hugh Hefner’s 85th birthday and Marston Hefner’s 21st birthday at the Palms on April 9, 2011. The Hef is pictured here with 24-year-old fiancee Crystal Harris.

Robin Leach's Vegas DeLuxe

Hugh Hefner's 85th Birthday and Marston Hefner's 21st

Hugh Hefner's 85th birthday and Marston Hefner's 21st birthday at the Palms on April 9, 2011. The elder Hefner is pictured here with Anna Sophia Berglund and fiancee Crystal Harris. Launch slideshow »
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Hugh Hefner's 85th birthday and Marston Hefner's 21st birthday at the Palms on April 9, 2011.

Click to enlarge photo

Hugh Hefner's 85th birthday and Marston Hefner's 21st birthday at the Palms on April 9, 2011.

Click to enlarge photo

Hugh Hefner's 85th birthday and Marston Hefner's 21st birthday at the Palms on April 9, 2011.

You watch as Hugh Hefner moves through a nightclub, cutting through the crowd while awash in lights and seemingly bemused at the hullabaloo his presence has caused.

And you wonder how he does it, a man in his mid-80s whose contemporaries are likely long asleep as he celebrates his birthday in the thick of madness at The Playboy Club and Moon at the Palms.

You ask him for his secret. There is none.

“If you’re in good shape, age is just a number,” he says.

Even if that number is 85.

Hugh Hefner is still sharp and sprightly at that age. He’s getting married to Crystal Harris, 60 years younger, on June 18 at The Playboy Mansion. He celebrated No. 85 at the place he calls his “home away from home,” the Palms.

Hef’s 21-year-old son, Marston, shares that birth date and tailed his father through a made-for-reality-TV party that wound from the Fantasy Suites to a photo op in the front of the hotel to The Playboy Club and, finally, Moon, where the unwieldy entourage -- often overrun by 31 former Playboy Playmates -- shared in cake and frivolity.

During an interview before this barely-break-a-stride celebration, Hef said he felt great. His fast responses and quick grin bore that out.

“I feel as good as I did in my 50s or even 40s,” he said. “But thinking back, in the 1980s, I was starting to feel my years.”

That was the decade his soon-to-be-wife was born, in 1986. The year prior, Hefner suffered what has been reported as a minor stroke. He was 59 at the time. It seemed his days of all-night revelry at his grown-up Disneyland had finally ended. And, in fact, they had.

“I think it did have to do with my lifestyle, and that feeling passed away,” he said. “That’s why I escaped into my second marriage, because I was starting to feel my years. When that didn’t work, I came out of it reborn, I think.”

That marriage was to Kimberly Conrad, the mother of Hef’s sons Marston and Cooper (age 20). Seated next to his father, Marston says, “I’ve got great genes.”

No kidding. They run in the family. Hefner’s mother, Grace, lived to be 101 years old.

“It helps if you pick your parents with care,” he says, chuckling.

Did Grace ever offer any advice on how to reach the Willard Scott Plateau?

“I don’t think we ever talked in terms of how long I would live,” he recalled. “But she was a very special lady. She was from Nebraska and had good, strong values, but I think feeling young has to do mostly with an attitude toward life. If you surround yourself with young people, that doesn’t hurt.”

It is noted that Hef is, in fact, surrounded by youth. His son is 21, his fiancee 24.

“That’s what I mean,” he says, and he laughs once more.

A few more notes from Saturday night’s HefTacular 2011 at the Palms:

• I asked Hef and Harris to clarify Harris’ relationship with Hef’s ex-girlfriend Holly Madison. Madison has expressed concern whether Harris is the right woman for Hef and has said that his decision to marry his latest Girlfriend No. 1 was made in haste. “I think a lot of that was taken out of context and blown out of proportion.” Harris offered, “I have nothing against her. I’ve tried to be her friend. I asked her if she wanted to go to Disneyland and never heard back. No response.” At that, Hefner laughed and said, “They have more in common than either one of them know.” When I asked, “Such as,” he said, “Me! Hah hah!” … Asked if there were any young would-be entrepreneurs who reminded him of himself, Hef said, “I see a lot of myself in my two boys. They’re smart and creative.” Marston said he has talked with his father about one day taking over Playboy but has not yet decided what his future holds. As Esquire once adroitly described the young Hefner, he might be “Next of Skin.” … When asked what it’s like to be Hugh Hefner’s son, Marston said, “It’s fun! I get to do so much and enjoy life so much. I am really blessed.” He’s a philosophy major with a minor in business and writing at the University of San Francisco, where he says he is "kicking ass and taking names.” … Claire Sinclair, prepping for another run at “Crazy Horse Paris” at MGM Grand, was at the informal press session at Hef’s suite. It’s been disclosed on “Holly’s World” that she is the new Playmate of the Year, but that was a premature communication. The formal announcement won’t be until early May, but the toothpaste is out of the bottle, or the genie is out of the tube, or something, about her being so honored. … A guy who embodies Hef’s lust for life is Palms exec Jon Gray, the hotel’s vice president of brand and revenue development. He’s pretty good at vibe development, too. … A classic men’s room moment I tweeted about: Broadcaster Jim Gray, yelling into a cellphone: “Fifty Playmates! Me! Gavin! Get here!” Confirmation that Gray was referring to Gavin Maloof was provided when I ran into Maloof at the sinks. The crew was to dine at Nove. … Of how he sees his romance with Harris working out, Hef said, “I love happy endings.” So true. … Startling moment to see a person I swore was AEG Live PR rep Kris Lingle-Griffith walking by the registration desk at Palms. I yelled, “Kris!” and the person called back, “No! I’m her twin sister!” Uncannily, sister Brooke Coxen could easily pass as Kris. I didn’t realize Kris even had a twin sister. They are both lovely, which might go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway.

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at twitter.com/JohnnyKats. Also, follow Kats With the Dish at twitter.com/KatsWithTheDish.

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