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David Brown

Death: February 01, 2010 (93)
Immediate Family:

Son of Edward Fisher Brown and Lillian Brown
Husband of Helen Gurley Brown

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About David Brown

David Brown (July 28, 1916 – February 1, 2010) was an American film and theatre producer; he was also a writer.

Early life and education

He was born in New York City, New York, the son of Lillian (née Baren) and Edward Fisher Brown.

Brown was a graduate of Stanford University and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

Early career

He began his professional career as a journalist, contributing to magazines including The Saturday Evening Post, Harper's and Collier's, before becoming an editor himself. He was a managing editor of Cosmopolitan before his wife, Helen Gurley Brown, joined the magazine.

Production career


In 1951, the producer Darryl F. Zanuck hired Brown to head the story department at Zanuck's studio, 20th Century-Fox. Brown eventually rose to become executive vice president of creative operations. He and Richard D. Zanuck, Darryl's son, left Fox in 1971 for Warner Bros., but the following year they set out to form their own production company.

The caper film The Sting (1973) starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford was a Zanuck/Brown "presentation". Thereafter, the pair were credited as producers or executive producers of more than a dozen films, including the courtroom drama The Verdict (1982), directed by Sidney Lumet and starring Paul Newman; the science-fiction Cocoon (1985), directed by Ron Howard; and the comedy-drama Driving Miss Daisy (1989), directed by Bruce Beresford and starring Jessica Tandy and Morgan Freeman. Driving Miss Daisy won four Academy Awards, including the Best Picture award.

Without Zanuck, Brown went on to produce films including the drama Angela's Ashes (1999) and the romance Chocolat (2000).

He and partner Zanuck were jointly awarded the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1990 for their achievements in producing films including the horror thriller Jaws (1975), directed by Steven Spielberg.


Brown produced various Broadway musicals, including Sweet Smell of Success: The Musical (2002), Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (2005), and the off-Broadway Jerry Herman musical revue Showtune (2003).

He bought the film and stage rights to the drama play A Few Good Men, written by playwright Aaron Sorkin. The play opened November 1989 and ran for 500 performances. The film of the same name (1992) stars Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson.

Personal life

Brown was the husband of Helen Gurley Brown (editor of Cosmopolitan magazine for 30 years), from 1959 until his death, fifty-one years. Brown had one son, Bruce, from a prior marriage, who predeceased him; and a half brother, Edward Fisher Brown Jr.

He was known equally for his mannerliness, fine wardrobe, distinctive mustache and was known for championing writers. He had strong connections with publishers and agents.

Brown wrote Brown's Guide to the Good Life: Tears, Fears, and Boredom, which gives advice on life. He also wrote Let Me Entertain You, an anecdotal autobiography.


He died, age 93, at his home in Manhattan from renal failure. His widow, Helen, died on August 13, 2012, age 90.

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David Brown's Timeline

July 28, 1916
February 1, 2010
Age 93