Bob Guccione

Bob Guccione

Original Name Robert Charles Joseph Edward Sabatini Guccione
Brooklyn, Kings County (Brooklyn), New York, USA
Death 20 Oct 2010 (aged 79)
Plano, Collin County, Texas, USA
Burial Staatsburg, Dutchess County, New York, USA
Memorial ID 60388164 · View Source
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Publisher. He was the founder and publisher of the adult magazine "Penthouse", which debuted in England in 1965 and first appeared in the United States in 1969. For years it successfully competed with "Playboy" by catering to a middlebrow readership, offering tabloid-style journalism and more forthright nudity. In September 1984, "Penthouse" notoriously published nude photos of reigning "Miss America" Vanessa Williams, and the resulting scandal forced her to relinquish the title. Robert Charles Joseph Edward Sabatini Guccione was born in Brooklyn. As a teenager he considered entering the priesthood but went to Europe to study painting instead. Dabbling as a newspaper cartoonist in London, he hit upon the idea of "Penthouse" after seeing how well "Playboy" was selling at newsstands. An advance promotional brochure was confiscated by the British Post Office on the grounds that Guccione was using the mail to distribute lewd material; he successfully appealed and the episode gave him a publicity windfall. The first issue of "Penthouse" sold out in two days. At first he was its only photographer, developing the moody, soft-focus style that became its trademark, and he would continue to do photo shoots (including those for the "Penthouse Pet of the Month" features) throughout his career. In 1969 he moved his operations to New York City, issuing a direct challenge to "Playboy" with ads proclaiming "We're Going Rabbit Hunting". What ensued was what wags dubbed "The Pubic Wars", as "Penthouse" pushed the boundaries of acceptable nudity in mainstream publishing and "Playboy" was compelled to follow suit; by the late 1970s the rivals were neck and neck in the marketplace. A little prestige came Guccione's way as well: in 1975 Brandeis University named him "Publisher of the Year" for a series of "Penthouse" articles on the shabby treatment of Vietnam Veterans. He went on to assemble an empire under the umbrella of General Media Inc., encompassing "Omni", "Viva", "Longevity", and several other magazines, and the budding home video market. Once listed among America's wealthiest men, Guccione lived extravagantly and lost much of his fortune through bad investments. Among them were a proposed Penthouse Casino in Atlantic City, scrapped at a cost of $50 million when the New Jersey Gaming Commission refused to license the project; a $20 million scheme to create a nuclear fusion plant; and the controversial film "Caligula" (1979), which he produced, only to see it flayed by critics and denied wide distribution because of its explicit sex scenes. Meanwhile, the cooler sexual climate of the 1980s, and the gradual shift of pornography from print to electronic media, eroded the popularity of "Penthouse". By 2000 its sales had dropped 90% from a peak circulation of 4 million issues a month. "There's no chance for a soft-core magazine these days", he said at the time. In 2003 General Media Inc. declared bankruptcy and Guccione resigned as CEO the following year; deeply in debt, he had to sell off his world-class art collection and lost his opulent Manhattan townhouse (reputedly the largest private residence in the city) to foreclosure. His last years were spent in retirement in Palm Springs, California. He died at 79 after a decade-long battle with cancer. Guccione was married four times. His third wife, Kathy Keeton, was one of his earliest employees and played an important role in his business affairs, serving as President of General Media Inc. until her death in 1997. His son Bob Guccione, Jr. founded the music magazine "Spin".

Bio by: Bobb Edwards

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Originally Created by: Kurtis Kirk
  • Added: 20 Oct 2010
  • Find a Grave Memorial 60388164
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Bob Guccione (17 Dec 1930–20 Oct 2010), Find a Grave Memorial no. 60388164, citing The Willows, Guccione Estate, Staatsburg, Dutchess County, New York, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .