Warren Cowan

Warren Cowan
Born (1921-03-13)March 13, 1921
New York City, U.S.
Died May 14, 2008(2008-05-14) (aged 87)
Los Angeles, U.S.
Cause of death cancer
Nationality United States
Occupation film industry publicist
Spouse(s) Ronnie Cowan (divorced)
Barbara Rush (divorced)
Josette Banzet (divorced)
Barbara Gilbert-Cowan
Children with Ronnie Cowan:
--Bonnie Fleming
--Linda Cowan (predeceased)
with Barbara Rush:
--Claudia Cowan
Parent(s) Rubey Cowan
Grace Cowan
Family Stanley Cowan (brother)

Warren Cowan (March 13, 1921 – May 14, 2008) was a prominent American film industry publicist. From 1950 to 1992, he was a co-founder and named partner in Rogers & Cowan, the world's largest publicity firm; he established his own firm Cowan & Associates in 1994.[1] At the time of his death, he was described as "one of Hollywood’s most powerful and innovative publicists",[2] known for his creative use of independent publicity.[3]

Early life

He was born to a Jewish family[4] in New York City, the son of songwriter Rubey Cowan[2] and Grace Cowan.[5] He had one older brother, Stanley, who was also a songwriter.[6][7] He attended Townsend Harris High School, a school for boys on the educational fast track. While attending the University of California, Los Angeles, Cowan majored in journalism and represented actress Linda Darnell.[2] Cowan served in the United States Army Air Forces during World War II for three years.[2][3]


In 1946, Cowan joined the firm established by Henry C. Rogers.[2] In 1950, he became a partner in the firm, which then changed its name to Rogers & Cowan.[2] He was named president in 1964.[2] Rogers & Cowan became one of the largest entertainment public relations firm in the world[2][8] handling not only entertainers but also high-tech manufacturers, athletes, publishers, movie studios and trade unions.[2] Whenever he was asked to name his favorite client, Cowan's constant answer was always "the next one."[9]

In 1950, Cowan staged the first celebrity charity-fundraiser, a golf tournament on behalf of motion picture director Frank Borzage.[3] Rogers was the first agent to actively solicit public support for his client's nomination for an Academy Award, starting with Joan Crawford's performance in 1945's Mildred Pierce; she won Best Actress.[3] In 1997, Cowan personally introduced Italian actor Roberto Benigni to his already famous American peers, all of them Cowan clients and Academy voters, on behalf of Miramax. Benigni and his picture, Life Is Beautiful, won three Oscars that year.

In 1988, Rogers & Cowan company was sold to Shandwick Plc., an English conglomerate.[2] "It was the right move to make in some respects, but I found that I was doing too much that was administrative and too little that was creative," Cowan said. Cowan remained as chairman until 1992.[3] In 1994,after a two-year non-competitive period, he launched a new company, Warren Cowan & Associates.[3]

Personal life

Cowan was married five times, four of which ended in divorce including two to actress Barbara Rush.[2] He had two daughters with his first wife, Hollywood columnist Ronnie Cowan (1926-1997):[10] Bonnie Fleming and Linda Cowan (who was later killed by a drunk driver).[11] He had one child with his second wife Barbara Rush, Fox News Channel reporter Claudia Cowan.[2] His third wife was French actress Josette Banzet.[12] His fourth wife - who he remained married to until his death - was Barbara Gilbert-Cowan, the mother of actresses Melissa Gilbert and Sara Gilbert and actor Jonathan Gilbert. He had eight grandchildren.[2]

He died on May 14, 2008 of cancer at his home in Los Angeles.[2] He is buried at Mount Sinai Memorial Park Cemetery.[3]


  1. Amy Wallace, "Sharper Image Man", Los Angeles, November 1, 2001   via HighBeam Research (subscription required) .
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 Bruce Weber, "Warren Cowan, a Star at Promoting Stars, Dies at 87", The New York Times, May 16, 2008.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Dennis McLellan, "Warren Cowan, 1921 - 2008: Legendary Hollywood press agent", Los Angeles Times, May 16, 2008.
  4. Guttman, Dick. Starflacker: Inside the Golden Age of Hollywood. ISBN 9780986407116.
  5. Idaho Mountain Express Obituaries: "Warren Cowan" May 30, 2008
  6. Washington Post: "Warren Cowan; Press Agent for Hollywood Stars" by Jeff Wilson May 16, 2008
  7. Los Angeles Times: "Stanley Cowan; Songwriter, Film Composer" December 17, 1991
  8. Profile, Annenberg,usc.edu; accessed September 18, 2015.
  9. Interview with Warren Cowan, healthyhearing.com; accessed September 18, 2015.
  10. "Ronnie Cowan, a Hollywood columnist based in London for Screen International throughout the 1970s and the former wife of public relations executive Warren Cowan, died Monday of non-Hodgkins lymphoma in Beverly Hills at age 71" January 23, 1997
  11. Los Angeles Times: "A Tale of Two Women" by Al Martinez December 16, 1989
  12. Ocala Star-Banner: "Actress Takes Her Work Home" by Dick Kleiner February 29, 1976
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