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(NEXSTAR) – American publisher Larry Flynt, who turned “Hustler” magazine into a pornography empire, died at the age of 78 Wednesday, TMZ reports.

Sources told TMZ that Flynt died of heart failure Wednesday morning in Los Angeles.

Flynt, a self described free speech activist, was involved in several high-profile legal cases over his publications. His story inspired the 1996 film “The People vs. Larry Flynt” in which he was portrayed by Woody Harrelson.

Flynt had one major connection to the Memphis area: Several scenes in “The People vs. Larry Flynt” were filmed in Memphis, Shelby County and north Mississippi.

The movie, which starred Harrelson and Courtney Love and featured an appearance by Memphis Judge D’Army Bailey, was nominated for two Academy Awards.

During an obscenity trial in March of 1978, a gunman named Joseph Paul Franklin shot Flynt as he returned to the Gwinnett County Courthouse, leaving him partially paralyzed. In later years, Flynt was photographed using a gold-plated wheelchair.

Flynt is survived by wife Elizabeth Berrios as well as his five daughters and son, TMZ reports.