Hustler founder and First Amendment battler Larry Flynt dies

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FILE - "Hustler" Magazine publisher Larry Flynt signs a copy of "The People Vs. Larry Flynt" in his downtown Cincinnati "Hustler" store on April 30, 1998. Flynt, who turned "Hustler" magazine into an adult entertainment empire while championing First Amendment rights, has died at age 78. His nephew, Jimmy Flynt Jr., told The Associated Press that Flynt died Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021, of heart failure at his Hollywood Hills home in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Tom Uhlman, File)

LOS ANGELES – Larry Flynt, who turned his raunchy Hustler magazine into an empire while fighting numerous First Amendment court battles and flaying politicians with stunts such as a Donald Trump assassination Christmas card, has died. He was 78.

Flynt, who had been in declining health, died Wednesday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, his longtime attorney, Paul Cambria, told The Associated Press.

Flynt was shot in a 1978 assassination attempt and left paralyzed from the waist down but refused to slow down, building a flamboyant reputation along with a fortune estimated at $100 million.

He tooled around in a gold-plated wheelchair with a velvet-lined seat.

“His doctors had said he should have passed away 30 years ago,” his nephew, Jimmy Flynt Jr., said Wednesday. “He outlived most of the doctors who took care of him.”

Born Nov. 1, 1942, in Lakeville, Kentucky, Larry Claxton Flynt Jr. grew up poor. Divorced twice by age 21, Flynt eventually found his calling by buying bars and turning them into Hustler clubs that featured topless dancers. In an effort to drum up business, he published a newsletter that became Hustler magazine.

Founded in 1974, Hustler was unashamedly crude, low-brow and hard-core, thumbing its nose at the pretensions of such high-toned men's magazines as Playboy.

The magazine featured raw, politically incorrect humor, photos of female genitalia and sometimes S&M and bondage scenes with women tied and gagged. It shocked the public with a 1978 cover depicting a woman being fed into a meat grinder.