Larry Flynt was born on November 1, 1942 in Magoffin County, Kentucky. His parents were very poor and when his mother divorced his father, who was an alcoholic, he moved with her to Indiana. In 1958, Larry enlisted in the Army at the age of fifteen, but had to leave after a year. He immediately joined the Navy and served on the USS Enterprise until 1964.
After leaving the Navy, Larry found that he had some money and didn't know what to do with it. He finally decided on starting a strip club in Dayton, Ohio. The club made quite a bit of money and Larry went on to purchase several more in different cities along with his brother, Jimmy.
In 1974, Larry decided to release the first issue of Hustler Magazine, as a newsletter for his strip clubs. At that time, there weren't many issues and subscriptions were not allowed. However, the people that did see the issues gave Larry a lot of good feedback, prompting him to start publishing it as a professional magazine. The difference between Hustler and other similar magazines at that time was that Hustler was almost all pictures and took the "lewdness" to a whole new level.
When Hustler obtained naked photos of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in 1975, they did not hesitate to publish them. The resulting publicity resulted in skyrocketing sales and made Larry Flynt famous and infamous overnight. The business was soon making millions of dollars and the magazines could be found in every local drug store.
The sudden success of the magazine did not have entirely good effects. It began attracting the close attention of a group of anti-pornography religious zealots in Cincinnati, led by Charles Keating Jr. In 1976, he was brought up on charges of obscenity and organized crime for publishing his magazine and sentenced to twenty-five years in prison. Fortunately, the sentence was overturned due to a procedure technicality, making him a free man once again. He kept his talented lawyer from the trial, Alan Isaacman, as his personal attorney.
That same year, Larry started a company named Larry Flynt Publications, which published numerous magazines and also handled the distribution. The company stuck to porn until the late 1980s, when they started publishing magazines that targeted the general public.
In 1977, Larry met with the evangelist Ruth Carter Stapleton, the sister of Jimmy Carter. They both believed in making the United States more comfortable with sexuality and she succeeded in converting him to Christianity. He was baptized and began changing the direction of the magazine, no longer publishing pictures of women alone.
On March 6, 1978, Larry and his lawyer were shot by a sniper as they left a courthouse in Lawrenceville, Georgia. The gunman turned out to be Joseph Paul Franklin, a white supremacist angered by interracial photos published by the magazine. His lawyer survived without permanent injuries, but Larry was left paralyzed from the waist down and confined to a wheelchair for the remainder of his life. After the attack, he renounced his newfound religion and became an active atheist.
In 1983, Larry published an advertisement parody in Hustler featuring Jerry Falwell as a fan of alcohol. Falwell sued him for libel and Larry counter sued him for copyright infringement. In a landmark Supreme Court victory, it was found that public figures cannot recover damages for intentional infliction of emotional distress based on parodies. It ensured that citizens of the United States could freely parody celebrity figures for the many years to come.
In 1984, Larry briefly ran for president vs. Ronald Reagan, but withdrew after realizing that he had little chance of winning. In 1996, the film "The People vs. Larry Flynt" was produced starring Woody Harrelson as Larry Flynt. On June 22, 2000, Larry opened his famous Hustler Casino in Los Angeles. Many people believed that he would be unable to get a gambling license because of his legal problems, but he eventually succeeded, allowing the casino to operate freely.
In 2003, a recall in California of Governor Gray Davis allowed Larry to campaign as a replacement. He placed 7th out of 135 candidates, many of whom were fellow celebrities, losing to Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Although many people disagree with the content produced in Larry's magazines, they forget that he has made many important victories in legal battles. He has worked long and hard to preserve the civil rights of expression in the United States, ensuring that people for generations to come will enjoy the same freedom of expression that many people today take for granted. Today, he still remains very active in political and social issues.