Iconic Cosmopolitan editor Helen Gurley Brown died this morning at the age of 90, according to The New York Times. Brown, 90, began her career as a secretary and advertising copywriter before writing the bestselling 1962 advice book Sex And The Single Girl. It established her as a leader of the sexual revolution, encouraging financial independence for women and speaking frankly about sex, and directly inspired work across decades to come—including Mad Men, whose Matthew Weiner has cited it as an influence, and its most obvious descendant, Sex And The City. (In many ways, Brown was the original Carrie Bradshaw: opinionated, stylish, and never shying away from leopard print or pink tulle.)
Hearst Corporation hired Brown based on the success of her work, installing her as editor-in-chief at Cosmopolitan, where she stayed for 32 years. In her editorship, Brown crafted the template of the modern women’s magazine, focusing on “love, sex, and money.” Her sassy, pro-sex, glamour-driven aesthetic created a legion of Cosmo Girls: women who had time for fashion, careers, and double dates, too. Though Brown officially stepped down from her editor role in 1997, until her death she reported to a pink-painted corner office at Hearst every day, continuing to oversee the magazine’s international editions and serving as Cosmo’s spiritual figurehead. In a statement, Mayor Michael Bloomberg called Brown “a quintessential New Yorker: never afraid to speak her mind and always full of advice.”
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