Say yes to sex. When asked by an interviewer in 2006 to what she attributed her long, happy marriage, Gurley Brown answered, “I married the right man. The sealed section of this month’s issue screams, “Cosmo’s biggest, raunchiest, horniest, dirtiest, sexiest, naughtiest, cheekiest, sauciest, most orgasmic sealed section ever”. Why should men have all the fun? She was Cosmo’s tireless editor-in-chief, growing the magazine in the 1980s to 300 pages, a third of which were highly lucrative advertisements. “Helen Gurley Brown was an icon. But in retrospect, Ms. Brown’s work seems strikingly apolitical, beholden mostly to the politics of personal advancement. What Cosmopolitan’s previous cover lines had lacked in pith and punch (“Diabetes: Will Your Children Inherit It?”), Ms. Brown’s more than made up for. Female sexuality could be powerful, and Brown encouraged women to use it during working hours. She also gave the papers, notes, and correspondence that document her career—and publishing in the late 20th century—to Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. Brown advocated using feminine sexual wiles to get ahead. Helen, Let others criticise you, in your fishnets and miniskirts in your 80s, unable to fathom the boundaries between old age and youth. Around this time she had a short, inadvertent career as an escort. (She is also recognized in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in The World, and the World Book of Facts.). Brown passed away this morning at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Colombia after a brief hospitalization, but no cause of death has been released yet. She received the 1996 American Society of Magazine Editors’ Hall of Fame Award. A tiny, fragile-looking woman who favored big jewelry, fishnet stockings and minidresses till she was well into her 80s, she was a regular guest at society soirees and appeared often on television. But in an era in which an unmarried woman was called an old maid at 23, the new Cosmopolitan gave readers license not to settle for settling down with just anyone, and to enjoy the search with blissful abandon for however long it took. Helen Gurley Brown, American writer and editor whose upbeat, stylish publications, beginning in the mid-20th century, emphasized sexual and career independence and adventure for a large audience of young women. Sex, for Brown, was tied to a desire for upward social mobility. Even several nude male centerfolds (Burt Reynolds, April 1972; Arnold Schwarzenegger, August 1977) were for many critics insufficient counterweights. “She lived every day of her life to the fullest and will always be remembered as the quintessential ‘Cosmo girl.’ She will be greatly missed.”, “Helen was an inspiration, a true success story. She spent a year at the Texas State College for Women and returned home to put herself through Woodbury Business College. The journalism school said its $18 million share was the largest donation in its 100-year history. When Ms. Brown took over, the magazine had a circulation of less than 800,000; at its height, in the 1980s, circulation approached three million. As recently as January, she donated $30 million to Columbia's J-School and Stanford's engineering school to establish a joint "institute for media innovation." He died in an elevator accident when Helen was 10 years old. A conference of male magazine editors was held. The pair pitched plays, television shows, more books, and new magazines for single women. “She brought the subject that every woman wanted to know about but nobody talked about, to life, literally, in Cosmo’s pages.”. “World’s Greatest Lover — What it was like to be wooed by him!” her inaugural cover proclaimed. One, a magazine called Femme, attracted the interest of Hearst Magazines. Get an apartment of your own and paint the walls cream (flattering for the complexion!). Her 1964 book, Sex and the Office, made this use of sex for social mobility explicit. In 1932, when she was 10, Ira was killed in an elevator accident, leaving her mother depressed and impoverished. Unencumbered by husband and children, the Cosmo Girl was self-made, sexual and supremely ambitious, a potent amalgam of Ragged Dick, Sammy Glick and Holly Golightly. She wrote a syndicated newspaper advice column and made record albums and radio spots. Brown passed away this morning at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Colombia after a brief hospitalization, but no cause of death has been released yet. The book encouraged young women to enjoy being single, find fulfillment in work and non-marital relationships with men, and take pleasure in sex. In 1937, Mrs. Gurley moved with her daughters to Los Angeles. Ms. Brown routinely described herself as a feminist, but whether her work helped or hindered the cause of women’s liberation has been publicly debated for decades. [mouseburger, n., pejorative, < mouse + -burger. She served as editor in chief of Cosmopolitan from 1965 to 1997. She was inducted into the Publisher’s Hall of Fame in 1988, taking her place with such publishing originals as Henry Luce, DeWitt Wallace, Harold Ross, and Norman Cousins. If she was nothing else, Helen Gurley Brown was a sexual democrat. Her husband, who had recently stumbled on a cache of letters she had written in her 20s to a married man who was smitten with her, persuaded her to write “Sex and the Single Girl.”. In 1970, a group of feminists led by Kate Millett staged a sit-in at Ms. Brown’s office, protesting what they saw as her retrograde vision of womanhood. She coined the word “mouseburger” to describe young women like her. Mr. Brown, who produced “Jaws” and other well-known films, died in 2010; the couple had no children. You were fabulous. The look of women’s magazines today — a sea of voluptuous models and titillating cover lines — is due in no small part to her influence. Perhaps none of these things — not the books, not the unabashed look of Cosmopolitan and its legion of imitators, not the giddy pleasure with which American women embraced sex without shame — would have happened quite as soon if Ms. Brown had heeded a single piece of advice. Work on your assets – body, charm, sexual skills and career. After trying to support Helen and her older sister Mary in Depression-era Arkansas, Cleo Gurley moved them to Los Angeles in the late 1930s. As executive secretary to Don Belding, Gurley Brown’s work ethic and witty notes impressed both her boss and his wife, who suggested she try her hand at writing advertising copy. “I look after him like a geisha girl,” she told The New York Times in 1970. Brown disconnected sex and desire from love, from romance, from shame and from marriage. A woman’s sexual power could be a way to smash to glass ceiling. The second round of media coverage will, inevitably, bring critique. By turns celebrated and castigated, Ms. Brown was for decades a highly visible, though barely visible, public presence. Just recently, Advertising Age named her among 100 women who have made an impact on advertising during the past century. The Browns then worked together to keep Helen in the public eye. Before she arrived at Cosmopolitan, Ms. Brown had already shaken the collective consciousness with her best-selling book “Sex and the Single Girl.” Published in 1962, the year before Betty Friedan ignited the modern women’s movement with “The Feminine Mystique,” it taught unmarried women how to look their best, have delicious affairs and ultimately bag a man for keeps, all in breathless, aphoristic prose. In the 1990s, when prominent men like Justice Clarence Thomas and Senator Robert Packwood were facing accusations of sexual harassment, Ms. Brown publicly disdained the charges, arguing that sexual attention from men is almost always flattering. The family moved to Little Rock when Ira was elected to the state legislature. It sold millions of copies, turned Ms. Brown into a household name and inspired a movie of the same title starring Natalie Wood, released in 1964. The original Sex and the City girl died in New York on Monday, aged 90. All Rights Reserved. The family lived in Little Rock, Arkansas, until her father, Ira M. Gurley, a schoolteacher, was killed in an elevator accident when Helen was ten years old. Today Cosmopolitan is the top-selling young women’s magazines in the world, with 64 international editions and is published in 35 languages and distributed in more than 100 countries. Ms. Brown had never held an editing job, but her influence on Cosmopolitan was swift and certain: she did not so much revamp the magazine as vamp it. She looked great, wore fabulous clothes and had an unabashedly good time when those clothes came off. The gift created the David and Helen Gurley Brown Institute for Media Innovation, housed at both Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism and the School of Engineering at Stanford. You need to marry a decent, caring person.”. Forty-three when she took the magazine’s helm, Ms. Brown often described the Cosmo Girl as the young woman she had been — or dreamed of being — 20 years before. She was 90, though parts of her were considerably younger. Ms. Brown’s sister, Mary Gurley Alford, died before her. She introduced her readers to the female erotic gaze, convincing Burt Reynolds to be the world’s first nude male centrefold in April 1972. The book was considered an outrage and categorised as pornography. In her place was That Cosmopolitan Girl, the idealized reader on whom Ms. Brown and her advertisers firmly trained their sights. Her and her husband David Brown’s philanthropy also left an indelible mark on journalism: In January, Gurley Brown gave $30 million to Columbia and Stanford Universities. In 1997, Gurley Brown left the flagship magazine to be editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan’s growing international editions. At 5 feet 4, she remained a wraithlike hundred pounds throughout her adult life. Her father, Ira, was a schoolteacher, as her mother, the former Cleo Sisco, had been before her marriage. We want to hear what you think about this article. She proved her talent, winning prizes for her copy. But over at Playboy HQ, as Sex and the Single Girl hit the best-seller list, the boys were confronted with the anxious reality of their own sexual fantasies – the sexually available woman made flesh. She featured sexy cover models, provocative content, and a fresh point of view that appealed to young women. Sex as an end in itself was perfectly fine, the magazine assured them. A physically unprepossessing woman with little money and few prospects.

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+ How we made $200K with 4M downloads.

How we made $200K with 4M downloads.