Longtime ‘Cosmopolitan’ Editor Helen Gurley Brown Dead at 90
Brown died Monday in a hospital in New York after a short hospitalization, according to a statement from Hearst CEO Frank A. Bennack Jr. After publishing her breakout book Sex and the Single Girl in 1962, Brown (who was working as an advertising copywriter at the time) skyrocketed to celebrity status at 40-years-old. The book offered a grab-bag of advice, opinion, and anecdotal stories about why being a single woman shouldn’t mean being sexless, setting the table for countless women’s advice columnists to follow. Three years after her publishing success, she was hired by Heart Magazines to breathe new life into a magazine called Cosmopolitan, which became her soap box for the next 32 years, according to Newser.
Brown said that at the outset of her career, her goal was merely to advise her readers on “how to get everything out of life —the money, recognition, success, men, prestige, authority, dignity—whatever she is looking at through the glass her nose is pressed against.” She spawned clever words that made their way into the pop culture canon like “Cosmo girl,” described as a hip, sexy, vivacious and smart woman, and “mouseburger,” – which she initially used to describe herself – a plain and ordinary woman who has to work relentlessly in order to make herself both desirable and successful.
We’re very sad to report that legendary Cosmo editor Helen Gurley Brown passed away. She revolutionized the mag & empowered women worldwide.
— Cosmopolitan (@Cosmopolitan) August 13, 2012
Brown was married to David Brown, a former Cosmopolitan managing editor who ended up being a movie producer, in 1959. He produced a few films you might have heard of – The Sting and Jaws, most notably. Brown married him when she was 37-years-old. The couple had no children, by choice. They were married until David’s death in 2010 of renal failure. It was David who encouraged Brown to pen Sex and the Single Girl, according to the Associated Press. “I would want my legacy to be,” said Brown after leaving her post as editor of Cosmo in 1997, “‘She created something that helped people.’ My reader, I always felt, was someone who needed to come into her own.”
— NYT Magazine (@NYTmag) August 13, 2012