Longtime Cosmo editor, Arkansas native passes away

(KATV) - Helen Gurley Brown, longtime editor of Cosmopolitan magazine, has died.

A best selling author and self-described feminist known for pushing the envelope, Brown was arguably one of the most influential women of her time. While she lived much of the latter part of her life in a New York apartment overlooking Central Park, she was born in Green Forest, Arkansas, and raised in Little Rock.

"I had to go to work with I was 17 years old because my father was crushed in the Arkansas State Capitol building," said Brown in a 2005 interview with KATV's Beth Hunt. "He didn't leave us any money; it was devastating. I was 10-years-old, we were so poor, we didn't have rich relatives, had to make do on virtually nothing."

As a young girl, Brown said she was not the belle of the ball so her mother encouraged her to be smart.

"My mother said to me, 'Helen, use your brain.' Mothers didn't say those things to little girls in those days. You were supposed to be pretty."

The value of, and appreciation for intelligence carried into her adult life.

"I like smart," said Brown, "in a man or a woman. As far as I'm concerned, that's the best quality you can have....You don't have to be a movie star, or a TV interviewer or a best selling author, but there's something you can do good. Let's find out what it is."

At age 37, she married film producer David Brown who had worked on such high-profile projects as "Jaws." She may have found love, but she still wanted other girls to know it was okay to be single so she published "Sex and the Single Girl: A Guide to Dating, Work, Beauty and Finance," in 1962.

Even though she had never before stepped foot in a magazine office, she was named editor-in-chief of Cosmo magazine in 1965, which was about to fold at the time. She changed the format and added some racy topics - and circulation quickly soared to 3 million. Brown stayed with the magazine until she died, working on Cosmo's international editions.

Despite her high-paced, New York lifestyle, she remained sentimental about growing up in Arkansas.

"Growing up in Little Rock was the best thing I ever did because the values were good and I learned to become who I became."

Helen Gurley Brown was 90 years old.