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David Brown
Brown in 2000
Born(1916-07-28)July 28, 1916
DiedFebruary 1, 2010(2010-02-01) (aged 93)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Alma materStanford University
Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism
  • Film producer
  • author
  • journalist
Years active1973–2002
(m. 1959)
ChildrenBruce Brown
AwardsIrving G. Thalberg Memorial Award (1991)

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

Early life

He was born in New York City, the son of Lillian (née Baren) and Col. Edward Fisher Brown,[2][3] and was the elder brother of Carolyn Brown, who married French aristocrat Emmanuel de Crussol d'Uzès, Duke of Uzès,[4] then who remarried to Geoffrey Carpenter Doyle, a grandson of New York City architect James Edwin Ruthven Carpenter Jr.[5]

Brown was a graduate of Stanford University and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.[6]

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". In 1974, the company produced, along with Universal Pictures, The Sugarland Express, Steven Spielberg's directorial debut, for a motion picture.[7] 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

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 kidney failure on February 1, 2010.[6] 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 in Arkansas. Helen's maternal family cemetery is located just south of the village of Osage in Carroll County, Arkansas.


He was a producer in all films unless otherwise noted.


Year Film Credit Notes
1973 Sssssss Executive producer
The Sting Executive producer
1974 Willie Dynamite
The Sugarland Express
The Black Windmill Executive producer
The Girl from Petrovka
1975 The Eiger Sanction Executive producer
1977 MacArthur Executive producer
1978 Jaws 2
1980 The Island
1981 Neighbors
1982 The Verdict
1985 Cocoon
1988 Cocoon: The Return
1989 Driving Miss Daisy Executive producer
1992 The Player
Rich in Love Co-producer
A Few Good Men
1993 The Cemetery Club
Watch It Executive producer
1995 Canadian Bacon
1997 The Saint
Kiss the Girls
1998 Deep Impact
1999 Angela's Ashes
2000 Chocolat
2001 Along Came a Spider Final film as a producer


Year Title Credit Notes
1987 CBS Summer Playhouse Executive producer
1990 Women & Men: Stories of Seduction Television film
1991 Women & Men 2 Television film
1996 A Season in Purgatory Executive producer
2002 Framed Executive producer Television film
Year Title Notes
2014 Of Dark & Disturbing Things In memory of


  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. ^ "Edward Brown, of National Dairy, Ex-Officer, Active in Health and Welfare Work, Dies". The New York Times. May 17, 1973. Retrieved June 27, 2020.
  4. ^ Times, Special to The New York (July 19, 1946). "Carolyn B. Brown, Duke of Uzes Wed; Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Raleigh, N.C., Is Scene of Their Marriage". The New York Times. Retrieved March 29, 2021.
  5. ^ "Mrs. Brown Bride of Geoffrey Doyle; Daughter of Col. and Mrs. E. F. Brown Wed to Grandnephew of Bishop Ernest Stires". The New York Times. August 5, 1949. Retrieved March 29, 2021.
  6. ^ a b Weber, Bruce (February 2, 2010). "David Brown, Film and Stage Producer, Dies at 93". The New York Times. Retrieved February 3, 2010.
  7. ^ Press Release, Universal Pictures(June 21, 1973).Box 1, David Brown Papers, Collection #5574, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.


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