Larry Flynt — the notorious porn peddler who built a smut empire out of his “Hustler” magazine and fashioned himself into a champion of the First Amendment — died on Wednesday. He was 78.
Flynt succumbed to heart failure at his Hollywood Hills home, his nephew, Jimmy Flynt Jr., confirmed to The Associated Press.
Flynt, whose death was first reported by TMZ, had suffered from a slew of health problems since a 1978 murder attempt that left him paralyzed from the waist down.
The controversial mogul and self-described First Amendment champion was known for challenging the establishement and his myriad legal battles involving free speech and pornography regulations.
He often clashed with feminist groups and the religious right, and was once sued by televangelist the Rev. Jerry Falwell in a case that made it to the US Supreme Court.
Flynt was portrayed by Woody Harrelson in the Oscar-nominated 1996 film, “The People vs. Larry Flynt,” which chronicled the pornographer’s life, including his court clash with Falwell.
Born in Kentucky in 1942 and raised in poverty, Flynt, a ninth-grade dropout, turned himself into one of the biggest names in the adult entertainment industry.
Flynt was running eight strip clubs out of Ohio by 1970, before he first began publishing “Hustler,” a monthly magazine.
He expanded “Hustler” into a sprawling business made up of websites, casinos, a TV network and a licensing division believed to be worth as much as $500 million in 2014.
Flynt ran his porn kingdom from a Beverly Hills high rise, where he moved about in an $85,000 gold-plated wheelchair, according to the Los Angeles Times.
He described “Hustler” as competition to Playboy and Penthouse magazines, which presented themselves as highbrow art, as opposed to raw porn.
When it first hit the newstands, “Hustler’s” hard-core content drew outrage and the publication faced many legal fights over obscenity laws.
Feminist Gloria Steinem once branded Flynt a “violent, sadistic pornographer.”
In spite of his mag’s perverse content, Flynt once said that “Just because I publish pornography does not mean that I am not concerned about the social ills that all of us are.”
His dramatic life was also marked by tragedy. Flynt battled drug and alcohol addictions and his fourth wife Althea Flynt died of a heroin overdose. In 2014, his daughter Lisa Flynt-Fugate died in a car crash in Ohio at 47.
Flynt first faced the Supreme Court in a 1983 case he lost. He reportedly flew into a rage, yelling “F–k this court” and calling the justices “nothing but eight assholes and a token c–t,” referring to then-Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.
In 1988, the high court ruled in his favor against Falwell, who had sued over an offensive ad parody in “Hustler” that suggested the religious right leader had slept with his own mother.
The case was portrayed in “The People vs. Larry Flynt,” which Flynt had a small cameo in as a judge who sentenced him to seven to 25 years in prison in a 1976 case. The sentence was later overturned and Flynt served only six days in jail.
In March 1978, Flynt was leaving an obscenity court hearing in Georgia when he was shot on the sidewalk by a gunman later revealed to be white supremacist serial killer Joseph Paul Franklin.
Franklin didn’t confess to the attempted murder until years later, and claimed he’d been enraged by an interracial photoshoot in “Hustler.”
Despite Flynt expressing his opposition to the death penalty, Franklin was executed by lethal injection in 2013.
Other progressive causes dear to Flynt included his support of gay marriage and speaking out against the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.
A self described “smut-peddler who cares,” Flynt also created a private foundation to contribute to research in spinal cord injuries, child abuse and youth violence, according to the Washington Post.
The outspoken magnate also tried his hand at politics, including a failed run for California governor in a 2003 recall election. He was a vocal hater of former President Donald Trump and, in 2017, even offered a a $10 million reward for dirt that would have led to his impeachment.
Flynt’s empire included several strip clubs, including one in Manhattan. In a 2004 interview with The Post about the Midtown club, Flynt addressed the explosion of porn on the Internet, saying “There’s no substitute for the real thing.”
“The more you get, the more you want. That basically applies to sex,” he said.
Flynt is survived by his wife, Elizabeth Berrios, and four children.