"She was a dear friend who meant a great deal to the Playboy family and to me personally," Hefner said Thursday in a statement released to the media. "My thoughts and prayers are with her friends and loved ones during this difficult time."
Smith was found unconscious at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Fla., and rushed to the hospital, where she was pronounced dead. The cause of death was not immediately known.
David Granoff, Smith's former publicist, said he was saddened but not surprised to learn of her death.
"I am upset, but I'm not shocked," he said in an interview with MSNBC. "With the way things were going, one thing after another ... there was no sparkle in her eyes anymore."
Granoff, who was Smith's publicist for about 10 years, called her "one of the most unforgettable characters" he knew.
"She did lead a fast life," he said. "She liked to enjoy herself."