Innovative Publicist Warren Cowan Dies
Co-founded top entetainment PR firm Rogers & Cowan
Entertainment publicity magnate Warren Cowan died of cancer Wednesday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
Co-founder of distinguished public relations firm Rogers & Cowan, Cowan, 87, is a recognized trailblazer in the entertainment publicity field and represented some of Hollywood's biggest stars.
The New Yorker got his start as Hollywood publicist in the 1940s while attending UCLA. After joining Henry Rogers' publicity firm in 1945, the two became partners in 1950, founding what would become the globe's leading entertainment public relations firm, Rogers & Cowan. Warren launched his own firm, Warren Cowan & Associates, in 1994.
During his six-decade career, Cowan represented a daunting roster of stars, including Lucille Ball, Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Tony Curtis, Steve McQueen, Cary Grant, the Doors, Audrey Hepburn and many, many more.
Cown, who said he liked to "create news," told the Los Angeles Business Journal in 1999 that he created the concept of a celebrity sports tournament for charity in 1950 while brainstorming ways to get Oscar-winning director Frank Borzage's name in the news.
"Frank doesn't have anything going now," Cowan recalled saying to his partner. "I don't know what to write about him. What does he do? And Henry said that [Borzage] played golf every day."
And right then, the Frank Borzage Invitational Golf Tournament was born. The one-day tournament drew stars Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, Mickey Rooney and more, Cown said. Marilyn Monroe served as scorekeeper during the tournament's second year.
"I also arranged for Frank Sinatra to land on the first tee in a helicopter, get out carrying Bing Crosby's bag, and caddy for him," Cowan continued. "It was all fun and made for good coverage."
After Rogers & Cowan was sold to a British firm in 1987, Cowan stayed on as chairman. He resigned 1992, waited out a two-year non-competition clause with Rogers & Cowan, then founded Warren Cowan & Associates in 1994.
He is survived by wife Barbara Gilbert Cowan, daughters Claudia Cowan and Bonnie Fleming, his stepchildren, actresses Melissa and Sara Gilbert and actor Jonathan Gilbert, and eight grandchildren.