Helen Gurley Brown, editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine and author of Sex and the Single Girl, has passed away, says her publisher Hearst. She was 90.
Brown died after being admitted to a hospital in New York.
Arkansas-born Brown was hired by Hearst to help get Cosmopolitan back on its feet. Her big break came three years after she released her 1962 bestselling book. Once on board, Brown edited the magazine for a total of 32 years.
Brown described her personal goal for the magazine was to tell readers ‘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.”
Many came forward to pay the spirited woman a tribute. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that New York City has lost ‘a pioneer who reshaped not only the entire media industry but the nation’s culture’.
He also described Brown as a ‘role model for the millions of women whose private thoughts, wonders and dreams she addressed so brilliantly in print’. He stated: “She was a quintessential New Yorker: never afraid to speak her mind and always full of advice.”
Born in 1922, Brown moved to Los Angeles after the death of her father. She graduated at the top of her class at John H Francis Polytechnic High School in 1939 and began her career as a secretary at various advertising agencies. Eventually, she was given the chance to write advertising copy. That was when the prizes and awards began coming. Before long, she became the highest-paid woman in advertising on the west coast.
At age 37, she married former managing editor at Cosmopolitan David Brown, who encouraged her to publish her book Sex and the Single Girl. The book became a bestseller. It was translated into 16 languages and was published in 28 countries. She followed it up with five other books, but she mostly focused the rest of her life on Cosmopolitan.
Brown stepped down as editor-in-chief in 1997. She left the magazine when it was selling 2.5 million copies, but continued as an editor of the 64 international editions of Cosmopolitan until she died.
Cosmopolitan, to its finest editor, was ‘a terrific magazine’.
“I would want my legacy to be: ‘She created something that helped people.’ My reader, I always felt, was someone who needed to come into her own.”
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