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Helen Gurley Brown

Helen Gurley Brown (b. February 18, 1922 in Green Forest, Arkansas), is an author, publisher, and businesswoman. She was editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine for 32 years.

Brown's father died in an elevator accident when she was young, and her sister was a victim of polio. She was raised in Little Rock, Arkansas.

From 1939 to 1941 she attended Texas State College for Women and Woodbury Business College.

After a stint in the mailroom at the William Morris Agency, she went to work for a prominent advertising agency as a secretary. Her employer recognized her writing skills and moved her to the copywriting department where she advanced rapidly to become one of the nation's highest paid ad copywriters in the early 1960s. In 1959 she married David Brown who was producer of Jaws, The Sting, Cocoon, Driving Miss Daisy, and other motion pictures.

In 1962, at the age of 40, Brown authored the bestselling book Sex and the Single Girl. In 1965 she became editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan and reversed the fortunes of the failing magazine. During the decade of the 1960s she was an outspoken advocate of women's sexual freedom and sought to provide them with role-models and a guide in her magazine. Brown claimed that women could have it all, "love, sex, and money." Due to her advocacy, the liberated single woman was often referred to generically as the "Cosmo Girl." Her work played a part in what is often called the sexual revolution.

In the mid 1990s Brown was ousted from her role as the US editor of Cosmopolitan and was replaced by Bonnie Fuller. However, Brown stayed on at Hearst publishing and remains the international editor for all 59 international editions of Cosmo.

She was named the 13th most powerful American over the age of 80 by Slate Magazine.

Awards

  • 1995 - Henry Johnson Fisher Award from the Magazine Publishers of America
  • 1996 - American Society of Magazine Editors' Hall of Fame Award

Works

Lessons In Love - LP Record on How To Love A Girl & How To Love A Man (1963) Crescendo Records - GNP #604

Quotations

  • "Beauty can't amuse you, but brainwork — reading, writing, thinking — can."
  • "People think chutzpah is in the genes. It isn’t…it’s in the needing and wanting and being willing to fall on your face. It isn't fun…who wants all that rejection, but life is sweeter if you make yourself do uncomfortable things."
  • "The flirt reacts. She laughs at the jokes, clucks at the sad parts, applauds bravery. I really think it gets easier to flirt as you get older because you learn to listen to any man, employing the same charm and rapt attention you once reserved for seven-year-olds."
  • "Money, if it does not bring you happiness, will at least help you be miserable in comfort."

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