David Brown (producer)

David Brown (July 28, 1916 – February 1, 2010)[1] was an American film and theatre producer and writer who was best known for coproducing the 1975 film Jaws based on the best-selling novel by Peter Benchley.

David Brown
David Brown 2000.jpg
Brown in 2000
Born(1916-07-28)July 28, 1916
New York City, United States
DiedFebruary 1, 2010(2010-02-01) (aged 93)
Manhattan, New York, United States
Alma materStanford University
Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism
OccupationFilm producer, author, journalist
Years active1973–2002
ChildrenBruce Brown
AwardsIrving G. Thalberg Memorial Award (1991)

Early lifeEdit

He was born in New York City, the son of Lillian (née Baren) and Edward Fisher Brown.[2]

Brown was a graduate of Stanford University and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.[3]

Early careerEdit

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 careerEdit


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". In 1974, the company produced, along with Universal Pictures, The Sugarland Express, Steven Spielberg's directorial debut, for a motion picture.[4] 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 lifeEdit

Helen Gurley and David Brown

From 1959, for fifty-one years, until his death, Brown was the husband of Helen Gurley Brown, editor of Cosmopolitan magazine for 32 years, and author of Sex and the Single Girl.

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 for championing writers. He had strong connections with publishers and agents.[citation needed]

Brown wrote Brown's Guide to the Good Life: Tears, Fears and Boredom (2005), which gives advice on life. He also wrote Let Me Entertain You (1990), an anecdotal autobiography.


He died, age 93, at his home in Manhattan from renal failure on February 1, 2010.[3] His widow, Helen, died on August 13, 2012, age 90. Mr. and Mrs. Brown were laid to rest in late November 2012 in adjacent graves at Sisco Cemetery, Helen's maternal family cemetery just south of the village of Osage in Carroll County, Arkansas.



  1. ^ [dead link] [1][permanent dead link] The State.
  2. ^ Hearst Corporation (February 1, 2010). "David Brown, Acclaimed Movie Producer of Popular Classics Including The Sting, Jaws and Driving Miss Daisy, Author and Journalist, Dead at 93". PR Newswire Association LLC. Cision. Retrieved August 15, 2012.
  3. ^ a b Weber, Bruce (February 2, 2010). "David Brown, Film and Stage Producer, Dies at 93". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved February 3, 2010.
  4. ^ Press Release, Universal Pictures(June 21, 1973).Box 1, David Brown Papers, Collection #5574, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.


External linksEdit

  1. ^ Universal Pictures Press Release (June 21, 1973), Box 23, David Brown papers, Collection #5574, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.