Aug 13, 2012
Helen Gurley Brown's cause of death has not yet been made public, but the original Cosmo Girl died in the hospital, where she was being treated for a brief illness.
Famous for introducing her shocking 1962 book Sex and the Single Girl into mainstream pop culture, Helen Gurley Brown was the editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine for more than three decades, turning the publication into the world's #1 magazine for women.
"Her formula for honest and straightforward advice about relationships, career and beauty revolutionized the magazine industry," said Hearst Corporation CEO Frank Bennack, Jr. "She will be greatly missed."
Born on February 18, 1922, Helen Gurley moved with her mother to Los Angeles, California as a teenager.
She became the valedictorian of her class at John Francis Polytechnic High School in the Sun Valley community of L.A.'s San Fernando Valley.
Miss Gurley eventually graduated from an L.A. secretarial college and started her career as a secretary and advertising copywriter for the William Morris Agency and the Music Corporation of America (MCA).
Heavily impressed by the Southern California culture around her, Helen was fascinated by the number of single women pursuing college, modeling and acting careers.
She watched while these California girls embraced fun, sexuality and financial independence instead of counting solely on men and marriage --- and the wheels in her mind began turning quickly at that point.
The 'Cosmo Girl' prototype was self-made, ambitious, competitive, fashionable, fearless, and built upon a foundation of L.A. female stereotypes.
Once Cosmopolitan magazine hired her, Helen Gurley Brown promoted the magazine's new vibe by using imagery that was more Barbie than vamp, as she placed The California Girl firmly on a national pedestal.
Later, Helen Gurley Brown boldly published the 1972 Burt Reynolds nude centerfold and the 1977 Arnold Schwarzenegger nude centerfold, resulting in shock, controversy, outrage, and record magazine sales.
The fiercely creative Cosmopolitan editor made shock waves and became a heroine, a villain, a superstar, a legend and an icon.
Helen Gurley died as the widow of Hollywood film producer David Brown, who became famous for blockbuster movies like The Sting, Jaws, Cocoon, and Driving Miss Daisy.
A Hollywood power couple, David Brown and Helen Gurley Brown stayed married until Mr. Brown's death two years ago.
Over their half-century of marriage, the famous pair produced no children but instead created the David and Helen Gurley Brown Institute for Media Innovation and heavily supported California's Stanford University.
The original Cosmo Girl is irreplaceable, a fact that even the death of alter ego Helen Gurley Brown cannot and will not change.
Before Helen Gurley Brown died, she did a very candid interview, which can be seen on the following video.
Helen Gurley Brown 1922-2012