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Helen Gurley Brown, Legendary Cosmo Mag Editor, Dead at 90

Helen Gurley Brown, longtime editor of Cosmopolitan magazine, died today at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia hospital. She was 90.

Brown, a Los Angeles native, became a famed author in 1962 with the publication of her the bestselling self-help book, Sex and the Single Girl. In 1965, Brown became editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine, a failing title at Hearst that the new editor swiftly revitalized.

For a younger generation of women, Cosmo may be little more than a guilty pleasure, but the fact is the publication, under the leadership of Brown, revolutionized the industry of women’s magazines. Brown pushed social boundaries by turning Cosmo into a publication for young, single, sexually liberated women at a time when women’s titles were largely written for housewives.

Though the changes were controversial, Cosmopolitan became a huge success under Brown’s guidance. The mag now boasts a circulation of 3 million in the U.S., with 64 international editions. Brown was forced out of her role as editor in 1997, but stayed on as editor of Cosmopolitan‘s international editions.

Hearst CEO Frank Bennack reflected on Brown in a statement:

It would be hard to overstate the importance to Hearst of her success with Cosmopolitan, or the value of the friendship many of us enjoyed with her. Helen was one of the world’s most recognized magazine editors and book authors, and a true pioneer for women in journalism—and beyond.

A fall memorial for Brown will be announced at a later date.

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