Editor who told women: work hard, look good and enjoy sex
HELEN GURLEY BROWN:HELEN GURLEY Brown's bestselling book Sex and the Single Girl in 1962 made public (and also, perhaps, made possible) a major change in American mores: the admissibility of female sexual experience and experiment before, or even without, marriage.
Brown, who has died aged 90, spent the rest of her life, 32 years of it as editor of Cosmopolitan magazine, disseminating her beliefs.
After she published her memoirs, I'm Wild Again, in 2000, she toured America clad in scarlet promoting it as the indiscretions of the original Cosmopolitan girl.
One reviewer, David Plotz, was shocked not by the dirt the book claimed to dish, but by its real secret - that the key to her success was not sex, but work. It was the "autobiography of a puritan", he wrote.
She had scrabbled out of disadvantage in Green Forest, Arkansas. Her father died in an elevator accident when she was 10, leaving only enough insurance to save the family from welfare.
Her mother slumped into depression and soon afterwards her sister contracted polio. They relied on Helen for support.
She, being "very competitive in a quiet, deadly way", typed her way up and out.
The "mouseburger from the Ozarks" - as she described herself - reached Los Angeles in the 1940s as a whizzbang executive secretary in a firm of Hollywood lawyers, where her boss told her the rich and famous could marry anyone they wanted: "It will not be you - they want sensuous and sexy girls: you are not pretty enough."
However, at about that time Brown realised her talent for short, snappy sentences, and got her break as a copywriter with the advertising agency Foote, Cone & Belding. She rose to be their highest-paid sloganeer before transferring to Kenyon & Eckhardt as account executive in 1958.
In these positions she had an exceptional overview of the US female labour pool in transition during the 1950s, and understood that the workplace, usually the office, was where the young met likely marital partners; these women spent much of their earnings on their appearance, and some of their time on self-improvement, not to advance a career, but to claim a classier mate.
She married the Hollywood producer David Brown in 1959. ("Marry me or it's over" was her ultimatum to him.) She always described the match as the payoff on her efforts: "He was the man I had worked all those years to deserve. I had earned him."
It was his suggestion that she should write a book based on her prolonged bachelorette days.
The result was Sex and the Single Girl, with its bold proposition that unmarried females had sex, and liked it. "This was very astounding news in 1962," wrote the US feminist Barbara Ehrenreich.
Brown became a liberator, a sensation and a rich woman, after the sale of film rights, a syndicated advice column and a 1964 sequel Sex and the Office. (She later felt that it would have been fair if the Sex and the City phenomenon had acknowledged her - perhaps with a cut of the profits.)
Brown was the only choice for editor-in-chief of the monthly magazine Cosmopolitan, appointed in 1965. She gutted it of worthiness and reinvented it.
In it, she counselled fresh mouseburgers, "23-year-olds with their noses pressed up against the glass", on how to rise from the typing pool to personal assistant: arrive on time, fake confidence, stay late, don't blow your pay on fun.