Although she attended Protestant church services during her youth, Helen Gurley Brown as an adult dismissed religious faith. She was fond of saying that “good girls go to heaven; bad girls go everywhere.” All the more surprising, then, that two years before the end of her life, she was moved to donate $1 million of her bad-girl fortune to a heavenly cause. Instead of writing yet another check to NARAL, she opted to give the seven-figure sum to Cardinal Hayes High School, a Catholic school for boys in the Bronx.
For Brown, the gift led to an invitation that must have been unusual even for a celebrity used to high-ticket events: an opportunity to attend a special Mass and ceremony at Cardinal Hayes in honor of another donor, Regis Philbin. And so it was that on an autumn morning in 2010, the 88-year-old widow, who by then required the support of a cane, was drawn into a most unexpected waltz.