Bob Guccione, the founder of Penthouse magazine, died yesterday of cancer. He was 79.
I did not realize that Penthouse was started in Britain before coming to America in 1969 to compete with Hugh Hefner. He was able to compete with Playboy by offering more sexually explicit fare. In its early years, Guccione was the magazine's main photographer.
Like many successful businessmen, Guccione was undone by spreading himself thin and getting involved in too many enterprises. Amongst his business failures were a casino and hotel in Atlantic City that never materialized and, believe it or not, a nuclear reactor which also never materialized. Perhaps his most spectacular failure was his involvement in the notorious 1979 movie Caligula starring Malcolm McDowell. It is an experience that McDowell still recounts with bitterness.
Nevertheless, one cannot deny his success in the magazine industry.