On February 10th, 2021 the world said goodbye to Larry Flynt, publisher, and free-speech activist. Famous for creating the porn magazine, Hustler, Flynt’s story is a rags-to-riches tale.
Flynt died quietly in his sleep, reportedly due to frailty and heart failure.
Let’s follow the life of Larry Flynt, who ran away from home aged 15 to join the US army, right through to becoming the king of a pornographic empire. Flynt was a man who challenged the establishment and would become a target for feminist groups and the religious right.
We’ll learn about how Flynt was shot and left paralyzed from the waist down and how this controversial character would end up embroiled in a series of legal battles over decency.
In this video, we say RIP to Larry Flynt, the founder of Hustler Magazine.
Flynt Was Born into Poverty
Born in Magoffin County, Kentucky in November 1942, Larry Flynt was the first of three children His father, Larry Claxton Flynt Sr was a sharecropper and a World War Two veteran. His mother Edith was a homemaker.
Because Flynt was born during the war, his father was away fighting in Europe. This meant that young Larry was largely raised by his mother and his maternal grandmother until he reached the age of three.
Raised in poverty, Magoffin County was actually the poorest county in the entire United States during the Great Depression.
Flynt’s four-year-old sister would die of Leukemia when Flynt was just nine and the death of Judy would push Flynt’s parents toward divorce when young Larry was just ten.
Flynt would then move to Indiana with his mother, while his brother would be left with his grandmother in Kentucky.
Two years later, Flynt would move back to Magoffin County to live with his dad because he didn’t like his mom’s new boyfriend.
Flynt Ran Away to Join the Army
In the ninth grade, Flynt ran away from home. Even though he was only 15 years of age, he joined the US army using a forged birth certificate.
It was during this time that he developed a taste for playing poker.
Finally, after an honorable discharge, Flynt would return home to Indiana to his mother before finding work for a manufacturing company.
He’d get made redundant soon after following a union-led slowdown. Flynt would go on to work as a bootlegger but stopped when he discovered that the county deputies were onto him.
Flynt Served in the Navy
Following his brief stint bootlegging, Flynt went on to join the US Navy becoming a radar operative.
He would be the operator that was on duty on the ship assigned to recover John Glenn’s space capsule.
He served in the navy for a total of four years before he was honorably discharged.
Flynt Owned Several Bars
After getting out of the navy, Flynt returned home and used his savings to buy his mother’s bar, named the Keewee. He’d use the profits from this bar to buy another two bars.
Flynt works long hours and developed an amphetamine habit. He’d go on to open a series of high-class bars with nude hostess dancer that would be called Hustler Club. Flynt would go on to open a further five Hustler Clubs.
In 1972 Hustler Magazine Is Born
In 1972, Hustler is born. It started out as a two-page newsletter advertising his clubs, this was so popular that it would eventually turn into a 32-page newsletter.
In 1973 recession hit, and Flynt faced bankruptcy. To save himself from the brink, Larry Flynt decided to launch a full pornographic magazine which would become known as Hustler.
The first issue of the Hustler magazine hit the shelves in July 1974. The first few issues didn’t really sell very much, however, within a year, the magazine was turning over a decent income.
In November 1974, the magazine included its first ‘pink shots’, these were photos of open vulvas.
Of course, it was a challenge getting these issues to print. Back then, material such as this was deemed too explicit and even his distributors threatened to remove it from the shelves.
Sometime soon after, Flynt was approached by a member of the paparazzi who had taken some shots of former first lady Jackie Kennedy Onassis, while she sunbathed naked on vacation back in ‘71. Flynt snapped them up for $18,000, published them in 1975, and the rest as they say his history. That issue would sell more than 1 million copies within a few short days and would turn Flynt into a millionaire.
Flynt Faced Legal Problems Wherever He Turned
There were countless different legal battles facing Flynt throughout the seventies and eighties. All of these were regarding the regulation of pornography and freedom of speech.
The first time he was prosecuted was by Simon Leis, who was in charge of a local Cincinnati anti-pornography committee. Flynt was given a 7-to-25-year prison sentence. He served just six days as the sentence was overturned on appeal due to misconduct in the prosecution.
In 1976, another court case was launched against Flynt, this time it was a libel suit over a derogatory Hustler cartoon filed by Kathy Keeton, the then-girlfriend of Bob Guccione, the publisher of Penthouse. The suit raised in Ohio would later be dropped when she missed the deadline under the statute of limitations. The case would later be taken up in New Hampshire- where Hustler sales were actually quite low.
There was a lot of debate about whether Keeton could sue there In 1983, Flynt would lose the lawsuit
The case is often studied in law schools because of the implications of personal jurisdiction over a defendant.
In 1983, Flynt would win a surprising U.S. Supreme Court victory over the televangelist Jerry Falwell. Falwell was suing Flynt for libel after an alcohol ad in Hustler suggested that Falwell had lost his virginity to his own mother.
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Larry Flynt Was Shot and Left Paralyzed
In 1978, Flynt was shot by a sniper and left paralyzed from the waist down. He would need to use a wheelchair for the rest of his lift.
The assassination attempt happened during a legal case related to obscenity in Georgia. Flynt and his lawyer were on their way back into the courthouse when they were both shot at on the sidewalk.
The gunman, Joseph Paul Franklin, was standing near an alley on the other side of the road. Franklin was a white supremacist and serial killer. Much later, he would confess to the shootings saying that he was angered by an interracial photo shoot in Hustler.
Franklin was never brought to trial for attempting to kill Flynt, despite the fact that Flynt had made statements to the effect that he agreed that Franklin’s statements were in fact correct. Franklin would later be charged with eight unrelated counts of murder and as a result, would be sentenced to death.
Flynt spoke out about Franklin’s execution stating that he didn’t want him to be put to death, Franklin was executed by lethal injection in 2013.
The shooting would leave Flynt paralyzed with permanent damage to his spinal cord. He would be left in constant pain and developed an addiction to painkillers. Flynt had several surgeries that would eventually deaden the nerves affected.
Flynt would overdose on his analgesic medication which would cause him to have a stroke. He made a recovery, however, he always had pronunciation problems from that point on.
Flynt Played His Own Judge In a Movie About Him
In the 1996 movie, The People vs. Larry Flynt, Larry Flynt played the judge that sentenced him in the case.
The movie was directed by Milos Foreman and starred Woody Harrelson as Flynt. The film was a critical hit winning Oscar nominations for direction and best actor.
Larry Flynt Was Worth More than $100-Million
Although he started off from humble beginnings, Larry Flynt would go on to become worth more than $100-million. He owned his own Gulfstream IV and had previously owned a Gulfstream II.
At his most successful, Hustler would sell more than 3 million copies each issue. That was until the internet came along and brought about a drop in sales.
Larry Flynt Was No Fan Of Donald Trump
Larry Flynt was reportedly not a fan of Donald Trump. Back before the 2016 election, Flynt offered $1 million to anyone who could offer up any videos or audio recordings of Trump acting in a derogatory, illegal, or sexually demeaning manner.
A year later, once Trump was in office, Flynt would up the stakes. This time offering a cool $10 million to anyone who could forward with any evidence that could lead to Trump’s impeachment.
Then, in 2019, Larry Flynt Publications sent Christmas cards out to a number of Republican congressional members. The card showed Trump dead in a pool of blood with the killer saying “I shot Donald Trump on 5TH Avenue and no one arrested me” which was a reference to a boast that Trump had made about being able to make such a killing without losing any votes.
Larry Flynt Was Married Five Times
Flynt was married no less than five times. His wives were Mary, Peggy, Kathy Althea, and Elizabeth.
He had one son and five daughters. He leaves behind several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
How do you think we should remember Larry Flynt? A champion of freedom of speech or a pedlar of smut? Let us know in the comments. If you liked this video, be sure and hit like and share, and don’t forget to subscribe to the Facts Verse channel for more great content.