Legendary Cosmo editor Helen Gurley Brown dead at 90

Tue Aug 14, 2012 10:00am EDT
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(Reuters) - Helen Gurley Brown, the legendary editor of Cosmopolitan magazine who helped usher in the 1960s sexual revolution, died on Monday at age 90.

She died at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center after a brief stay, according to a statement issued by Hearst Corp.

Gurley Brown was editor from 1965 to 1996 at Cosmopolitan, a magazine aimed at young single women, which under her hand became renowned for its provocatively posed models, frank articles and racy headlines extolling the virtues of sex.

With Gurley Brown as editor, Cosmopolitan was "the sexiest woman's magazines there was," she said in a 2004 interview with Mediabistro.

Gurley Brown was at the forefront of changing sexual mores in the United States and the modern women's liberation movement when she wrote "Sex and the Single Girl," published in 1962. The cheerful book about single life encouraged women to be independent and to have sex freely, whether or not they were married.

In the same Mediabistro interview, she said when she wrote "Sex and the Single Girl" that "nobody was talking about female sexuality."

"You were just supposed to go through with it, rearrange the spice rack in your head and think about what you were going to do tomorrow while you're having sex," she said.

Frank Bennack Jr, chief executive of the Hearst Corp, wrote in a memo to staff: "Helen was one of the world's most recognized magazine editors and book authors, and a true pioneer for women in journalism -- and beyond."

Privately held Hearst is the parent company of Cosmopolitan.   Continued...

Helen Gurley Brown on her first day as editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan in 1965. REUTERS/Hearst Corporation