Legendary Cosmo Editor Helen Gurley Brown Dies at 90

Helen Gurley Brown - P 2012
Chris Hondros/Getty Images

Helen Gurley Brown - P 2012

The legendary editor in chief of Cosmopolitan ran one of the most successful women's magazines of all time for 32 years and is credited with helping encourage the sexual freedom of young women.

Helen Gurley Brown, the legendary editor of Cosmopolitan magazine, died Monday in a hospital in Manhattan, according to Hearst. She was 90.

She was the wife of the late Hollywood producer David Brown, whose films included Jaws, The Sting, Cocoon, Driving Miss Daisy and The Verdict. They married in 1959 and were together for more than 50 years until Brown's death at age 93 on Feb. 1, 2010. The powerful pair were often the toast of the New York social scene, always impeccably dressed. 

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Brown's 1962 best-selling book, Sex and the Single Girl, was an opening act for her 30-plus-year leadership of Cosmopolitan. It was made into a hit movie starring Natalie Wood and Tony Curtis and is considered to be a major impetus of the sexual revolution of the 1960s.

The tiny Arkansas native started her career at the William Morris Agency in New York and worked her way up to being considered the savior of Cosmopolitan magazine, which she joined in 1965. She was editor in chief of Hearst's famed title -- one of its most successful magazines -- for a full 32 years.

She left Cosmo in 1997 but stayed on at Hearst to oversee the now-64 international editions of the magazine. It remains one of Hearst's top-grossing magazines and one of the best-performing magazines of all time.

In January, Brown gave $30 million to Columbia and Stanford universities, creating the David and Helen Gurley Brown Institute for Media Innovation.