If you're a fan of Cosmo but haven't heard of Helen Gurley Brown then the news that she died today aged 90 after a short stay in hospital in New York may not mean a great deal to you.
But delve a little into the life of this incredible woman and you'll discover that not only is she the person who shaped the way Cosmopolitan US and its international editions developed, but that she was instrumental in empowering women to take control of their lives, futures and relationships following the publication of her first book, Sex and the Single Girl, in 1962 and her subsequent editorship at Cosmo US.
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Sex and the Single Girl was completely revolutionary at the time; Helen made it OK to be a young women who wanted to work on her career, live an independent life and yes, have sex and enjoy it. She basically said what millions of girls wanted to hear but no one had yet said; that there was in fact a life for young women outside of being married and having children.
She encouraged her readers to go for what they wanted, to enjoy themselves, and men. Without Helen it's likely that there would have been no Joan Holloway and no Carrie Bradshaw. Helen told the world that you could be single and be sexy.
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Louise Court, Editor of Cosmopolitan UK comments:
"Meeting Helen was unforgettable. She still dressed in fishnets, with a slash of red lipstick and auburn hair at the age of 88. When I first met her in the Hearst magazine HQ in central New York she made me feel a million dollars; she was warm and funny and she loved to call her editors Pussycat.
"She was the Queen of Smart and the pioneer of shouting loud and proud that women could have it all - including a career, marriage and of course, great sex. Be the best you can be was her motto and she expected her editors to fill the magazines with energy and optimism.
"She started out penniless and trying to make her way in advertising in the chauvinistic Mad Men era and went on to change the lives of millions of women around the world creating the globe's biggest international magazine brand.
"Thanks Helen for everything."
She took the helm at Cosmopolitan US in 1965 and transformed the magazine with frank discussion of women's sex lives, the pill and orgasms all the while giving them the helping hand to achieve the careers and relationships they wanted. She turned Cosmo into a magazine that sold around three million copies in the mid 1980s and paved the way for Cosmo to become the top-selling young women's magazine in the world. See her first ever cover for the mag, above.
Cosmo's Naked Centrefold was a Helen Gurley Brown invention; she famously turned Burt Reynolds into a 70s sex symbol in the space of an issue by featuring him entirely in the nude across a double page spread.
Having stepped down from her role after over thirty years in the top job, thousands of sexy coverlines and hundreds of hunky naked centrefolds later, Helen remained editor-in-chief of the international editions until her death, keeping an office in Hearst Towers in New York, decorated in signature leopard print with plenty of pink.
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Here are some of our favourite Helen Gurley Brown quotes:
"Good girls go to heaven, bad girls go everywhere."
"One of the paramount reasons for staying attractive is so you can have somebody to go to bed with."
"Nearly every glamorous, wealthy, successful career woman you might envy now started out as some kind of schlep."
"The message was: So you're single. You can still have sex. You can have a great life. And if you marry, don't just sponge off a man or be the gold-medal-winning mother. Don't use men to get what you want in life - get it for yourself."
"Cosmo is feminist in that we believe women are just as smart and capable as men and can achieve anything they want. But it also acknowledges that while work is important, men are, too. The Cosmo girl absolutely loves men!"
"Never fail to know that if you are doing all the talking, you are boring somebody."
"The only thing that separates successful people from the ones who aren't is the willingness to work very, very hard."