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Iconic Cosmopolitan Editor Helen Gurley Brown Dies Aged 90
Few editors can claim to have not only transformed their genre and fuelled a social revolution in the process. But before Helen Gurley Brown – who died in Manhattan today - women’s magazines were stodgy post-war affairs which wouldn’t admit that women enjoyed sex before marriage. That all changed when Ms Brown, a former escort and the author of the notorious Sex And The Single Girl (1962), took the helm of Cosmopolitan.
As Cosmo’s editor for 32 years, she gave the world Cosmo Girl, an ambitious, sexual young woman, dedicated to getting the most out of life. Brown called herself a feminist, and though her detractors strongly disagreed, she made no apology. But even her most vehement critics can’t deny her influence. The splashy coverlines, the sex tips, the lurid first person tell-alls – we have Brown to thank for all that. In magazine terms, it’s Brown’s world, and we just live in it.
The word ‘icon’ is often overused. But with Ms Brown is the kind of editor that they just don’t make anymore. A true character with a distinctive style – to the last she was a slight lady in fishnet stockings and an above-the-knee skirt, fighting the aging process with successive cosmetic surgeries. After her husband, the movie producer David Brown died in 2010 – Brown produced Jaws among many others - she donated $30 million to Columbia University establishing an Institute for Media Innovation. But her legacy is all around us.