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Cosmopolitan editor Helen Gurley Brown dies aged 90

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Thanks for posting, leonid. I hadn't heard yet. As the Times obit says:

By turns celebrated and castigated, Ms. Brown was for decades a highly visible, though barely visible, public presence. A tiny, fragile-looking woman who favored big jewelry, fishnet stockings and minidresses till she was well into her 80s, she was a regular guest at society soirees and appeared often on television. At 5 feet 4, she remained a wraithlike hundred pounds throughout her adult life. That weight, she often said, was five pounds above her ideal.

Ms. Brown routinely described herself as a feminist, but whether her work helped or hindered the cause of women’s liberation has been publicly debated for decades. It will doubtless be debated long after her death. What is safe to say is that she was a Janus-headed figure in women’s history, simultaneously progressive and retrogressive in her approach to women’s social roles.

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Brown was a true Manhattan exotic in her heyday -- eccentric, driven by ambition, well-connected, hyper-reactive to trends, capable of remarkable charm and wit, always managing to stay in the public eye. Capote, Warhol, Vreeland, Mailer, each in his or her own way, belonged to the same small category.

Just about everyone knew about these people (from tv and the press) and followed their activities. A public sighting (a glimpse of one of them getting out of a cab, entering a hotel, passing your table on their way to a private room in a restaurant) made your day. You talked about it and somehow, weirdly, felt better for having experienced it.

I don't know how they did it or why we paid so much attention.. Italian was part of the air you breathed if you lived in New York City in the 60s and 70s. Few of this group are left, which is sad.

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A 2009 New Yorker review of a biography of Brown, Bad Girls Go Everywhere.


“Bad Girls Go Everywhere” is the story of a woman who, mostly to her credit and greatly to her profit and glory, never knew how to blush, and who exhorted her readers to follow her example of self-invention in a buoyant, dishy, emphatic style that includes words like “pippy-poo.” Brown told her readers in 1962, “I think marriage is insurance for the worst years of your life. During your best years you don’t need a husband. You do need a man of course every step of the way, and they are often cheaper emotionally and a lot more fun by the dozen.”
Long before Brown was earning a seven-figure salary—when she was, in fact, earning a four-figure salary—she scrimped and saved to dress like a million dollars. One suggestion for scrimping was to charm an out-of-town stranger you had picked up at a bar into giving you cab fare, let him hail you a cab, then jump out a block later and keep the change.
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