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They moved to New York after the book became one of the top sellers of 1962. Moviemakers bought it for a then-very-hefty $200,000, not for the nonexistent plot, but for its provocative title. Natalie Wood played a character named Helen Gurley Brown who had no resemblance to the original.

According to Hearst, “Sex and the Single Girl” has been translated into 16 languages and published in 28 countries. She followed up her success with a long-playing record album, “Lessons in Love,” and another book, “Sex in the Office,” in 1965.

That year she and her husband pitched a women’s magazine idea at Hearst, which turned it down, but hired her to run Cosmopolitan instead.

In 1967 she hosted a TV talk show, “Outrageous Opinions,” syndicated in 19 cities and featuring celebrity guests willing to be prodded about sex and other risque topics.

She also went on to write five more books, including “Having It All” in 1982 and in 1993, at age 71, “The Late Show,” which was subtitled: “A Semiwild but Practical Survival Plan for Women Over 50.”

“My own philosophy is if you’re not having sex, you’re finished. It separates the girls from the old people,” she told an interviewer.

The Browns were childless by choice, she said.

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Former Associated Press writer Rayner Pike contributed to this report.