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Penthouse founder Guccione dead at 79

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Bob Guccione, the man who founded Penthouse and brought full frontal nudity close to the mainstream, if not firmly into it, has died at the age of 79.

Guccione lost a long fight with cancer yesterday, Adult Video News reports, and died at the Plano Specialty Hospital in Texas.

AVN recounts that the American-born Guccione was running a chain of self-service laundries in England, and struggling as an artist in his spare time, when he decided to fill the niches passed over by Hugh Hefner's Playboy empire.

Essentially this meant more graphic nudity and readers' filthy letters, a contrast to the mix of all-American nudity and high-brow features of Playboy. Presumably his time in the launderette industry had made him aware of the benefits of the self-service model.

The magazine took off, and quickly transferred to the States, becoming even more hardcore in time.

Guccione moved into film production, famously roping in the likes of Sir John Gielgud, Helen Mirren and Malcolm McDowell to star in Caligula - a no-holds barred look at the decadence of the Roman Empire or a soft porn epic padded out with bemused looking thesps, depending on your point of view.

However, as with many media empires Guccione was sideswiped by new technology and bad investment decisions. With the growth of the web free porn proliferated and a Penthouse-branded casino venture failed. Guccione's firm, General Media filed for bankruptcy in 2003.

AP has a bio of Guccione here. ®

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