Monday, October 15, 2012

Industry Icon of the Week: Helen Gurley Brown

“Good girls go to heaven. Bad girls go everywhere.” 
– Helen Gurley Brown (Feb. 18, 1922 – Aug. 13, 2012)

All photos courtesy of
One of the most successful and provocative magazine editors in history, Helen Gurley Brown, was a small-town girl, and then went on to be the editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine for 32 years.

She had to start working very early in life due to her fathers sudden passing at the age of 10, and her sister getting polio shortly thereafter. She began as a secretary at an advertising agency, until her employer recognized her writing skills, and then hired her on as a copywriter. She was one of the only women in the business, and was generally disregarded by the men.

Brown went on to publish a book in 1962 entitled 'Sex and the Single Girl'. The book encouraged women to become financially independent, and sexually liberated. Brown wanted them to experience the pleasure in sex, and work on their own terms. The book went on to influence shows such as Sex and the City and Mad Men.
In 1965, she became editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan. The magazine was dying and so Hearst Publishing decided to go with Brown because she could bring a fresh focus to the magazine. She brought forth a new direction of women’s sexual freedom, and was a great advocate for the sexual revolution. Brown targeted women 18-34 who wanted to achieve a successful life on their own. She believed that women should have it all, although other saw it differently, she quickly proved the critics wrong when Cosmopolitan turned around to have a 100% sell-through.

After 32 years,  Helen Gurley Brown left Cosmopolitan as it had become #6 on newsstands, and was ranked #1 in college campus bookstores. The magazine continues to thrive today, including articles on relationships, sex, health, careers, self-improvement, and fashion.

By: Adam K.