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Helen Gurley Brown, Longtime ‘Cosmo’ Editor, Dead at 90

Ad Age reports that Helen Gurley Brown, who spent more than thirty years as editor of Cosm0poltian after publishing her revolutionary 1962 book Sex and the Single Girl, passed away Monday at the age of 90. She was a true trailblazer in the publishing industry: Under her leadership, Cosmo became a beacon of the sexual revolution and challenged many of the day’s sexist notions, chief among them the widely held beliefs that women need marriage to find fulfillment and that sex should only occur within that august institution. Cosmo grew to be a bible of sorts for independent, fashion-conscious, liberated women–or “Cosmo girls” as Ms. Gurley Brown called them. “Good girls go to heaven,” she often said, “but bad girls go everywhere.”

Even after Bonnie Fuller took over as editor in chief of Cosmo in 1997, Ms. Gurley Brown spent many years overseeing the magazine’s international editions, a position that allowed her to offer her advice to Cosmo-affiliated editors all over the world. In a typically irreverent 2000 interview with Dow Jones Newswires, she noted that these editors were not required to take her advice, but they usually did “because it works.” Who would argue?

Another choice Gurley Brown quip from that classic sit-down: “Work has always rewarded me. Work is my drug of choice.” Her work may now be finished, but her inspiring, far-reaching feminist legacy will live on–and countless women either directly or indirectly inspired be her life will undoubtedly carry the torch in years to come.

What advice might the ambitious editor give to an aspiring young “Cosmo girl”? We think this famous quote is a good fit: “What you have to do is work with the raw material you have, namely you, and never let up.”

The below video from CBSNewsOnline is a fitting tribute. Click here to read the full Ad Age article.

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