Monday, August 13, 2012

Author/Editor Helen Gurley Brown Dead at 90

Former editor of Cosmopolitan magazine and bestselling author Helen Gurley Brown has died in New York City at the age of 90.

Brown became an instant sexual liberation icon with the publication of her bestselling book Sex and the Single Girl in 1962, which proclaimed that unmarried women could—and indeed did —enjoy sex without the benefit of marriage. Her book would pave the way for so-called "women's lib" fiction, including Jacqueline Susann's iconic bestseller Valley of the Dolls. She would later be appointed as Editor-in-Chief of Cosmpolitan magazine, which had been struggling for many years to find its audience. She quickly turned the magazine from a money-losing rag into the top-selling women's magazine in the US.

The magazine would break all the rules, featuring scantily-clad supermodels photographed by famed photographer Francesco Scavullo, with provocative article titles (normally about sex or orgasms) blazed across the cover. Brown would remain as Editor-in-Chief from 1964 until stepping down in 1997.

She was an unabashed feminist, believing and championing for women's rights at every opportunity. She was married to film-producer David Brown from 1959 until his death in 2010. She was also a champion of plastic surgery for women, freely admitting that she had multiple facelifts and other surgeries over the years to fight back the ravages of time.

This year  Brown donated $30 million to Columbia and Stanford Universities, both of which Mr. Brown had attended, to create the David and Helen Gurley Brown Institute for Media Innovation. She remained childless—by choice.

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