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Helen Gurley Brown
Helen Gurley Brown 1996.jpg
Helen Gurley Brown in 1996
Born (1922-02-18)February 18, 1922
Died August 13, 2012(2012-08-13) (aged 90)
New York City, New York, United States
Occupation International Editor, Cosmopolitan
Notable credit(s)
Editor-in-chief, Cosmopolitan
Title International Editor, Cosmopolitan; Former editor-in-chief, U.S. Cosmopolitan
Spouse(s) David Brown
(m. 1959–2010; his death)

Helen Gurley Brown (February 18, 1922 – August 13, 2012) was an American author, publisher, and businesswoman. She was editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine for 32 years.

Early life

Brown was born in Green Forest, Arkansas on February 18, 1922, the daughter of Cleo and Ira Marvin Gurley.


After working at the William Morris Agency, Music Corporation of America, and Sam Jaffe talent agencies she went to work for Foote, Cone & Belding advertising agency as a secretary. Brown became well-known for her writing skills and moved her to the copywriting department where she advanced rapidly to become one of the nation's highest paid ad copywriters in the early 1960s. In 1959 she married David Brown, who later became the producer of Jaws, The Sting, Cocoon, Driving Miss Daisy, and other motion pictures.

In September, 2008, she was named the 13th most powerful American over the age of 80 by Slate magazine.

After more than 50 years of marriage, her husband, David Brown, died at age 93 on February 1, 2010.

Together with her husband David, Helen Gurley established the David and Helen Gurley Brown Institute for Media Innovation. This institution will be housed at both the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and Stanford University School of Engineering|Stanford's Engineering School. Their $30 million donation to the two schools will be used to develop journalism in the context of new technologies.


Brown died at the McKeen Pavilion at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia after a brief hospitalization; she was 90. In its statement announcing the news, Hearst Publications did not disclose a cause.


  • 1985 Matrix Award from New York Women in Communications
  • 1995: Henry Johnson Fisher Award from the Magazine Publishers of America
  • 1996: American Society of Magazine Editors' Hall of Fame Award
  • 1998 Editor of the Year by Advertising Age magazine

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