Gurley Brown’s influence spread across 64 international editions of the low-brow, glossy magazine, aimed primarily at women in their early 20s, but also attracting the keen interest of anyone else searching for 77 “mind-blowing” sex positions, or other gems of Cosmo wisdom.
She died after a brief hospitalization at New York Presbyterian Hospital, the Hearst media corporation said.
“Widely heralded as a legend, Gurley Brown’s impact on popular culture and society reached around the globe, first with her 1962 bestseller, ‘Sex and the Single Girl,’ and then for the more than three decades she put her personal stamp on Cosmopolitan,” Hearst said.
“Under her reign, Cosmopolitan became the bible of ‘single girls’ worldwide and remains the magazine of ‘fun, fearless, females’ to this day.”
Cosmo, as the magazine often calls itself, stands apart from other women’s publications with its devotion to sex tip lists and perky relationship advice, in addition to the usual make-up discussions and fashion updates.
Gurley Brown took over the then conservative magazine in 1965 and set about delivering her message of “Good girls go to heaven, bad girls go everywhere.”
By the 1980s the magazine had grown to 300 pages, a third of that expensive advertising. It now appears in 35 languages across more than 100 countries.
In 2006, she explained the impact of her book “Sex and the Single Girl,” saying that it had changed the balance in the bedroom.
“Before I wrote my book, the thought was that sex was for men and women only caved in to please men,” she said. “But I wrote what I knew to be true — that sex is pleasurable for both women and men.”
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg described her as a “quintessential New Yorker: never afraid to speak her mind and always full of advice. She pushed boundaries and often broke them, clearing the way for younger women to follow.”