How Helen Gurley Brown Got Booted From Cosmo

A forthcoming biography of legendary Cosmopolitan editor-in-chief Helen Gurley Brown, Bad Girls Go Everywhere, will reveal how the “Queen of Cosmo” finally got the axe after 32 years. Despite being a target for at least a decade, as circulation slipped, in the end it was her comments about sexual harassment and AIDS that led to her being forced to step down. Her damning comments after the jump.* When asked if sexual harassment existed at Cosmo, in the wake of Anita Hill’s testimony that Supreme Court pick Clarence Thomas had harassed Hill for years, Brown cheekily responded: “I certainly hope so. The problem is that we don’t have enough men to go around for harassing.”

* She referred to Oregon Sen. Bob Packwood, who was accused by 10 women of making unwanted sexual advances, as “poor old Senator Packwood,” and reminded one journalist, “My darling, would you please remember that he was one of the congressmen who supported legal abortion. He was one of us, so we have to forgive him for being a jerk.”

* She ran a piece entitled “Reassuring News About AIDS,” reporting that women who never slept with gay, bi, or IV drug-using men faced little risk of contracting the virus. She wrote, “We spent such a long time getting sexual equality for women, and just when we’re beginning to enjoy ourselves, somebody’s got to come along and say sex kills.”

“In the end, Helen Gurley Brown would prove an exceedingly difficult person to nudge from her coveted but comfortable position, and it took another decade for Hearst executives to force the issue,” author Jennifer Scanlon writes. Even then, Brown, who turns 87 next month, said her booting came with consolation prizes … “money, contracts, perks, flowers and a new Mercedes-Benz.” [NYPost]

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