Helen Gurley Brown, author of Sex and the Single Girl and influential editor of Cosmopolitan, died this morning at New York–Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center, according to a release from the Hearst Corporation. She was 90. Named editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan in 1965, Brown is credited with saving the magazine from Hearst’s chopping block by introducing frank cover lines, hunky centerfolds, and content that focused on sexual and professional empowerment.
Brown was often quoted saying that “good girls go to heaven, bad girls go everywhere,” and her “fun, fearless” vision of femininity did, in fact, travel far and wide. With dozens of editions distributed in more than 100 countries, Cosmopolitan is one of the most popular magazines in the world. Brown served as editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan International up until her death. Her influence will extend beyond her death, both ideologically and materially: this year, Brown donated $30 million to Columbia and Stanford Universities for a joint journalism and technology institute, Columbia Journalism School’s largest gift ever. Her husband of 51 years, David Brown, died in 2010.