Helen Gurley Brown, the brilliant and ground-breaking COSMO editor and author died today. She was 90. That's an age-appropriate death, but I still hate the fact that she's gone. I hardly remember where we met, but she was a hero of mine. She was a smart, single woman who was a pioneer in making women realize they could be a force. Some people criticized that COSMO made women submissive to men, or that it encouraged them to be scheming sex goddesses. Nonsense! She was a smart businesswoman who saw a niche and turned it into a huge business.
When I wrote my first novel and received the galleys, I took them to her in her NY office and asked her to read the book. She said, "I'm not promising we'll excerpt them in COSMO." I said, "I don't care. Just the fact that you are reading my book before anyone else means the world to me." She read it, really liked it, and didn't run it in COSMO. I didn't care.
Helen in her later years
Helen at her height when we met
When the galleys for my second book were sent to me, I flew to NY and went to her office again. "I just want you to read it. It's our ritual." I said. "To me, it's like giving my pages to the Queen." The next night, Marlo Thomas and Dominick Dunne gave a book party for me at Elaine's. I was already out of my mind that I was even HAVING a book party at Elaine's, and about 15 minutes after it started, in walked Helen Gurley Brown, alone, beaming at me like the protegee I always hoped to be. I will never forget that moment. God Bless You, Helen Gurley Brown.
My mother, Beryl, died on July 23rd. Take a look at the picture below and you'll get an idea. She barely looked a day over what you see. It bodes well for me. She was born in Hawaii because my grandfather was stationed in the Navy over there. Her family eventually ended up in San Francisco. After high school she started being the featured singer at Bimbos 365 Club. Then she had her own show on NBC Radio with Meredith Willson as her conductor. She ended up in LA and did a few movies. She was also one of the featured "stars" in The Earl Carroll Theatre," and after that she went on the road with Eddie Foy, Jr. and the comic Ben Blue. She was a hot number and had a fabulous singing voice. The last 30 years of her life (give or take a few) she literally spent living at the Balboa Bay Club. A great big thanks to Watermark Assisted Living in Beverly Hills for taking such good care of her. There wasn't one day that she didn't wake up and ask, "So what good thing is going to happen today?"
OK...so four husbands later (I helped her bury all of them) she has now left the stage on this planet. Look out, God. Something really powerful and unique is coming right at you.