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Former Cosmo editor Helen Gurley Brown donates $30 million

January 30, 2012 |  4:37 pm

Two years after the death of her husband, David, longtime Cosmopolitan Magazine editor Helen Gurley Brown announced a whopping $30 million donation to fund new media. The funds are being given to both the Columbia Journalism School and the Stanford School of Engineering to establish the David and Helen Gurley Brown Institute for Media Innovation.

Does 32 years at the helm of a magazine really rake in that kind of money? Could it have been the success of her bestselling how-to book, "Sex and the Single Girl"?

Well, no. David Brown, who attended Stanford and Columbia, was a film producer who had an enormous hit with "Jaws," going on to make "Cocoon," "The Verdict," "Driving Miss Daisy," "Chocolat" and "A Few Good Men."

Commenting on the gift, Helen Gurley Brown said in a statement, "David and I have long supported and encouraged bright young people to follow their passions and to create original content. Great content needs useable technology. Sharing a language is where the magic happens. It’s time for two great American institutions on the East and West Coasts to build a bridge."

The institute will have an East Coast director and a West Coast director, located at Columbia and Stanford, respectively. Each university will receive $12 million to endow the institute, with additional funds going to set up a hi-tech newsroom at Columbia and to provide fellowship grants for new media innovation.

It's interesting that the gift is blurring the line between content and technology, encouraging crossover and collaboration; media have been slower than some other industries to develop the two in tandem.

Helen Gurley Brown, who retired from her editorship at Cosmopolitan in 1997, will celebrate her 90th birthday on Feb. 18.


The Dave Eggers shower curtain

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-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Helen Gurley Brown with husband David Brown in 1979. Credit: Los Angeles Times.