1. Her work ethic
Apocryphal show biz legends tell of studio execs fighting over the film rights to, say, Anna Karenina, then wondering “if the broad really has to die at the end.”
In reality, Hollywood has rarely missed the point so widely as it did with the 1964 film version of Sex and the Single Girl.
Not only is the movie’s “Helen Gurley Brown” a “Dr.,” she’s a 23-year-old virgin, played by the stunning Natalie Wood.
In actuality, Helen Gurley Brown’s life was movie-worthy, but along the lines of the Joan Crawford or Barbara Stanwyck flicks she grew up watching. She was a plain girl from the Ozarks who made herself over, escaped to the big city, and ended up with the (pink) corner office — and a rich husband, too.
And forget that fictional degree — Gurley Brown wisely skipped college altogether.
Instead, she worked her way up from sexually harassed secretary (although she wouldn’t have used that term) to top copywriter.
And I do mean “worked”: unlike plenty of women then and now, she kept long hours at the office, even before she got her own magazine — and even after she became little more than a figurehead at Cosmo.
Here some women will chirp, “Hey, I work hard at the office, too!”
No, you actually spend most of your time planning bridal and baby showers and birthday parties for your colleagues — not to mention the annual walk-a-thon — and rearranging pictures of your dog on your desk.
That’s between trips to the coffee machine or the break room or the bathroom (again).
Please, ladies: I’ve worked with you. I’ve worked for you.
And I thank God my last office job ended years ago.
“But Helen Gurley Brown could work long hours,” you insist. “After all, she didn’t have children.”
Exactly. She chose not to. So did I.
Ironically, the very woman who kept insisting “you can have it all” realized she couldn’t early on, and chose accordingly.