n this Aug. 20, 2008 file photo, Holly Madison, from left, Hugh Hefner, Bridget Marquardt, and Kendra Wilkinson arrive at the premiere of 'The House Bunny' in Los Angeles. Picture:.AP Photo/Matt Sayles

TV personality Kendra Wilkinson has heaped praised on Hugh Hefner, thanking him for shaping who she is today.

The 32-year-old beauty dated the publishing mogul from 2004 until 2008, and Kendra has heaped praise on Hugh following his death aged 91 on Wednesday. 

In a statement to 'Entertainment Tonight', Kendra said: "Hef changed my life. I couldn't be more thankful for our friendship and our time together." 

Kendra co-starred alongside Hugh on his 'Girls Next Door' reality show and despite their relationship eventually collapsing, she retains fond memories of the Founder of Playboy magazine.

The American TV personality admitted: "I will miss him so much but he will be in my heart forever."

Kendra married NFL star Hank Baskett in June 2009 following her split from Hugh.

And Kendra - who has kids Hank, seven, and Alijah, three, with her husband - previously discussed whether she would be happy to see her daughter pose for Playboy.

Read: Hugh Hefner built the Playboy empire and embodied it

The reality star explained: "I won't sit here and say that I would like that, but if she made a healthy decision and a healthy choice with a healthy mind to want to pose for Playboy ... We are a free home, we are a free spirit.

"If that's your way of wanting to express yourself and who you are, then go ahead and be exactly who you want to be."

News of Hugh's death was confirmed by a rep for the Playboy Enterprises founder, who said the controversial businessman "peacefully passed away" from "natural causes" at his home, the famous Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles, California.

The rep explained in a statement: "Hugh M. Hefner, the American icon who in 1953 introduced the world to Playboy magazine and built the company into one of the most recognizable American global brands in history, peacefully passed away today from natural causes at his home, The Playboy Mansion, surrounded by loved ones. (sic)"