Feb. 10 (UPI) -- Larry Flynt, founder and publisher of the pornographic magazine Hustler, died on Wednesday, his family said. He was 78.
Flynt's brother, Jimmy Flynt, and daughter, Theresa Flynt, confirmed to The Washington Post and NBC News respectively that he died Wednesday morning at Cedars Sinai hospital in Los Angeles. A cause of death was not given.
After launching Hustler in the 1970s as an extension of his brand of adult clubs featuring nude hostesses Flynt faced criticism from feminists and anti-porn activists as well as several lawsuits over the magazine's content. He was also shot by a sniper in 1978, leaving him paralyzed.
Born in Maffogin County, Ky., on Nov. 1, 1942, Flynt dropped out of school at age 15 and joined the Army for seven months using a falsified birth certificate then served in the Navy for five years after lying about his age again and was honorably discharged in 1964.
He bought his mother's bar in Dayton, Ohio, in 1965, before branching out into seven other cities that featured strip dancing.
In July 1974, the first issue of Hustler magazine was launched ushering in a more graphic form of the pornographic magazine than its contemporaries.
"Playboy and Penthouse were parading their pornography as art, with the airbrushing and the soft lens. I realized that if we became more explicit, we could get a huge piece of this market," he said in an interview cited by The Washington Post. "I sensed that raw sex was what men wanted. And I was right."
The magazine's content led Flynt to be convicted of obscenity and organized-crime charges in Cincinnati in 1976 and sentenced to seven to 25 years in prison, although he ultimately won a dismissal on appeal.
Two years later he was shot by white supremacist John Paul Franklin who said he objected to interracial photos featured in Hustler while leaving a courthouse in Atlanta where he faced more obscenity charges.
Rev. Jerry Falwell sued Flynt in 1983 after publishing a satirical ad depicting Falwell boasting about having drunken sex with his mother. The case made it to the Supreme Court which unanimously ruled in 1988 that offensive speech such as the ad was constitutionally protected as long as it did not claim to be factual and that Falwell could not collect $200,000 for inflicting ridicule and emotional distress.
Flynt also launched a bid for president in 1983, running on a platform of fighting sexual repression.
"I want to keep Big Brother out of your bedroom ... if the government can control the single strongest drive you have, they can control anything, and that's the road to fascism," he said at the time.
His life has been the subject of various films and books, including the 1996 film The People vs. Larry Flynt.