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Image / Editorial

Helen Gurley Brown: The Original Carrie Bradshaw


By Jeanne Sutton
24th Nov 2014
Helen Gurley Brown: The Original Carrie Bradshaw

black and white photo of helen gurney brown in office

Biopics are tricky. We love Funny Girl and Lawrence of Arabia – or maybe we just fancy 1960s Omar Sharif? We may have listened to the Walk the Line soundtrack too many times, but one cannot deny Reese Witherspoon as June Carter was A plus.?The Pianist and Huger are indisputable classics. On the other hand, some attempts at this tricky genre end up with Colin Farrell rocking surfer hair and lady highlights in Alexander.

However, if there is one life story that we’re looking forward to seeing on the silver screen it is that of Helen Gurley Brown, the pioneering Cosmopolitan editor-in-chief who changed the face of publishing when she started openly writing about sex in the women’s magazine. She may not have been the poster girl of the second wave feminist movement – she was very much into keeping the man in your life happy via regular blow jobs – but the woman did shatter the glass ceiling while reviving a publication that many at the time saw as a dead horse. Gurley Brown was in charge of Cosmo for 32 years, helming the editor-in-chief byline from 1965 until 1997. She died in 2012 aged 90.

Fox 2000 has optioned?Brooke Hauser’s?upcoming Enter Helen: The Rise and Reign of the Original Cosmo Girl (adds to the to-read basket). Deadline reports that the script will begin with Gurley Brown’s life in the early 1960’s, when she penned the then controversial self-help book Sex and the Single Girl. Hugh Hefner, Nora Ephron and Gloria Steinem will count among the dramatis personae.

helen gurley brown

Helen Gurley Brown coined the notion of the Cosmo girl – the single woman who loves life, while balancing a career and satisfying sex life. Without Helen’s dictation there would have been no Carrie Bradshaw and company. Lena Dunham’s recent memoir, Not That Kind of Girl, even pays tribute to Helen Gurley Brown in the introduction, ?’despite her demented theories, which jibe not even a little bit with my distinctly feminist upbringing, I appreciate the way Helen shares her own embarrassing, acne-ridden history in an attempt to say,?Look, happiness and satisfaction can happen to anyone.?

A makeover movie that takes in the feminist movement and the sexual revolution while the girl gets the top job at the end? How long do rabid audiences have to wait?

Also, Gurley Brown was the queen of the bon mot. Can you imagine an actress (we’re picturing Rebecca Hall) relishing these direct quotes while walking-and-talking in some vintage DVF wrap dresses?

?Good girls go to heaven, bad girls go everywhere.?

?You can have your titular recognition. I’ll take money and power.?

?Money, if it does not bring you happiness, will at least help you be miserable in comfort.?

?Nearly every glamorous, wealthy, successful career woman you might envy now started out as some kind of schlepp.?

?How could any woman not be a feminist? The girl I’m editing for wants to be known for herself. If that’s not a feminist message, I don’t know what is.?

Which actress do you think should take on the original cosmo girl?

Follow Jeanne Sutton on Twitter @jeannedesutun