Remembering Helen Gurley Brown
Helen Gurley Brown, the former editor of Cosmopolitan magazine whose 1962 best-seller “Sex and the Single Girl” made her the unofficial spokeswoman on female issues, died August 13 in New York City. She was 90.
Brown was 40 years old and married for three years when she wrote “Sex and the Single Girl,” a witty, revolutionary book in its time that assured single women they could have it all — a career, marriage and an active sex life. The book was published a year before Betty Friedan’s “The Feminine Mystique,” a groundbreaking book on the modern women’s movement whose champions included feminist Gloria Steinem.
“Sex and the Single Girl” sold millions of copies and counseled women on how to look, dress and attract a man.
In 1965, Brown took over the flagging Cosmopolitan magazine, turning it into a publishing phenomenon and setting the standard for contemporary women’s magazines. Cosmo, as the magazine was called, embodied Brown’s view.
“A ‘nice’ single woman … has a better sex life than most of her married friends,” she said.
Cosmo covers always featured beautiful, sexy women. In 1972, Brown broke new ground when actor Burt Reynolds was featured nude on the cover.
Brown was 75 and had been at the helm of Cosmo for 31 years when she was replaced as top editor in 1997. She is among the hundreds of journalists featured in the Newseum’s database of notable newspeople.