LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - On the day he was supposed to get married for the third time, Playboy founder Hugh Hefner said on Saturday he was probably better off staying single.
Hefner, 85, was dumped by 25-year-old fiancee Crystal Harris last weekend after she got jitters about living a tightly regimented life among dozens of attractive young women at the Playboy mansion in Los Angeles.
They were due to tie the knot on the grounds of the Gothic Tudor-style residence on Saturday afternoon, and to spend their honeymoon there.
"This was going to be my wedding day, but life is full of surprises. After all is said & done, staying single is probably for the best," Hefner said on Twitter.
Instead he will spend Saturday night watching "Runaway Bride," the 1999 romantic comedy that starred another real-life runaway bride, Julia Roberts.
For her part, Harris said she was leaving Los Angeles for a relaxing day trip with a Playboy public relations woman.
After Harris left Hefner, taking his beloved cocker spaniel Charlie with her, old friends and lovers descended upon the mansion to offer condolences. They included his second wife, Kimberley Conrad, and her mother; and former girlfriends Holly Madison and Bridget Marquardt.
A heartbroken Hefner immersed himself in romantic comedies, hosting screenings of films such as "Sleepless in Seattle" and "50 First Dates" for his coterie of Playmates.
He also rushed out "Runaway Bride" stickers to be affixed to the new issue of Playboy, which features Harris -- a.k.a. "Mrs. Crystal Hefner" -- on the cover.
Hefner said he was blind-sided by the split, and denied a tabloid report that there has been a nasty argument.
Harris told "Entertainment Tonight" that Hefner's mandatory agenda of activities, strict 9 p.m. curfews and his refusal to allow her to leave town to visit friends and family led to her decision to break up with him.
She was also stressed out by meetings with attorneys about the prenuptial contract and other issues, and by the realization that she would have to compete for Hefner's affections.
"I can honestly say I was not the only woman in Hef's life. And I didn't feel comfortable in my heart knowing that, and being able to get married to him," she said.
Hefner, known around the world by his nickname, Hef, has championed sexual freedom and civil rights, published stories challenging McCarthyism and the Vietnam War, and backed gay causes and the legalization of marijuana.
Raised in San Diego by British parents, Harris met Hefner at his annual Halloween party in 2008. She moved in to the mansion after a few weeks and became Playboy's Playmate of the Month in December 2009.
Reporting by Dean Goodman; Editing by Xavier Briand