Warren Cowan

Publicist


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his nearly two-hour Archive interview, publicity executive Warren Cowan (1921-2008) recalls his entry into entertainment publicity working for Alan Gordon and Associates, and later for Henry Rogers. He also speaks about his transition to partner in the renamed Rogers and Cowan. Mr. Cowan talks about working with many well-known clients, including Kirk Douglas, Joan Crawford (on the first Oscar campaign), Steve Allen, Milton Berle, George Burns, Danny Kaye, Lucille Ball, Doris Day, Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman. Next, he explains the process of publicizing a television show, and talks about his work on The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, G.E. Theater and That Girl. He also speaks about his longtime association with producers Aaron Spelling and Merv Griffin, and his work on their various television programs (including Mod Squad, Charlie's Angels, and The Merv Griffin Show). Finally, he speaks about the day-to-day process of working in publicity and many of the various techniques used. Reba Merrill conducted the interview in Los Angeles, CA on May 5, 2001.

"I think that timing is extremely important. The idea is that you want to hit the reader or viewer on almost the day of the show. We prepare in advance, but you try to time everything to run and to break within a few days of the airdate."

Interviewee(s)
Highlights
Publicist Warren Cowan on publicizing the series The Dick Van Dyke Show
Publicist Warren Cowan on publicizing The Danny Kaye Show
Publicist Warren Cowan on the creation of the first celebrity golf tournaments
Publicist Warren Cowan on the televised Kathy Fiscus tragedy 
Publicist Warren Cowan on Mack Miller's 1950s publicity business, whose main client was Bob Hope
Full Interview

Chapter 1

Introduction
On his early years growing up in New York; on his education and going to UCLA; on working with publicist Alan Gordon; on enlisting in the Air Force
On the first time he saw television and its impact; on joining the publicity firm of Henry Rogers; on working with Kirk Douglas; on creating the first "For Your Consideration Campaign" for Joan Crawford; on the business of the studio system; on forming his partnership with Henry Rogers (Rogers & Cowan); on the end of the studio system
On the advent of celebrity charity fundraisers starting with the Frank Borzage Invitational Golf Tournament
On specializing in television as a way of diversifying the company after witnessing the stress of publicist Mack Miler, who had one main client; on going after the advertising agencies which sponsored and produced the programming

Chapter 2

On his work representing the series The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, General Electric Theater and host Ronald Reagan, and The Dick Van Dyke Show; on starting the first celebrity teleconfrences; on Steve Allen's interviewing celebrities on his radio show
On publicizing television shows (as opposed to sponsor products); on working with sponsors (Chevrolet); on working with Milton Berle and George Burns 
On his main philosophy on promoting teleivsion shows (close timing to the airdate); on working with media outlets; on working with show producers; on Kirk Douglas being one of the first independent producers; on press releases; on coaching celebrities for interviews
On some of the challenges of publicizing celebrities (including Dean Martin); on publicizing The Danny Kaye Show; on working with the networks; on how publicity has changed since he started in the business; on the new possibilities of digital (i.e. an online chat with Elizabeth Taylor); on the targets for some of his company's campaigns; on acquiring clients; on firing clients (Steve McQueen and Kirk Douglas); on "planting" news items

Chapter 3

On "blind items"; on working with entertainment columnists (including Louella Parsons, Rona Barrett); on working with celebrities (Paul Newman, Jennifer Jones, Danny Kaye, Milton Berle, Merv Griffin, Jack Webb, Joanne Woodward, Doris Day)
On representing "High Noon" and Gary Cooper's partnering with suspected Communist Carl Foreman; on some of his clients who appealed to the HUAC; on the atmosphere created by McCarthyism
On representing TV shows in the 1960s; on the importance of being on a cover of Time magazine; on working with Spelling Entertainment; on publicizing some of Spelling's series

Chapter 4

On working with Merv Griffin; on publicizing Wheel of Fortune
On selling Rogers and Cowan to Shandwick PLC; on leaving the firm and retiring for two years before starting his new company
On his then-current projects (2001); on his advice to aspiring publicity professionals; on how the publicity profession has changed; on how companies pursue younger demographics; on foreign markets; on working with Kirk Douglas 
On his work with the Publicists Guild; on proposing the Publicists Guild awards; on his mentors (his mother, Henry Rogers, Kirk Douglas, and Danny Kaye); on how he would like to be remembered
Shows

Academy Awards, The

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Publicist Warren Cowan on working on his first "For Your Consideration" Oscar campaign for Joan Crawford's Mildred Pierce

Charlie's Angels

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Publicist Warren Cowan on the publicity challenge of Farrah Fawcett's departure from Charlie's Angels

Danny Kaye Show, The

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Publicist Warren Cowan on publicizing The Danny Kaye Show

Dick Van Dyke Show, The

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Publicist Warren Cowan on publicizing the series The Dick Van Dyke Show

Family

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Publicist Warren Cowan on Joanne Woodward directed an episode of Family

General Electric Theater, The

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Publicist Warren Cowan on publicizing Ronald Reagan (who at that time did not fly) and the series General Electric Theater

I Love Lucy

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Publicist Warren Cowan on working with Lucille Ball

Jeopardy!

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Publicist Warren Cowan on Merv Griffin's penning the theme song for Jeopardy

Julie and Carol at Carnegie Hall

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Publicist Warren Cowan on the use of publicity photos

Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, The

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Publicist Warren Cowan on publicizing the series The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp

Merv Griffin Show, The

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Publicist Warren Cowan on working with Merv Griffin

Wheel of Fortune

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Publicist Warren Cowan on working with Merv Griffin's game shows Wheel of Fortune and its international appeal 
Topics

Hollywood Blacklist

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Publicist Warren Cowan on representing "High Noon" and Gary Cooper's partnering with suspected Communist Carl Foreman; on some of his clients who appealed to the HUAC; on the atmosphere created by McCarthyism

We Cried

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Publicist Warren Cowan on the televised Kathy Fiscus tragedy 
Professions

Publicist

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Publicist Warren Cowan on the business of publicity
Publicist Warren Cowan on the creation of the first celebrity golf tournaments
Publicist Warren Cowan on the creation of press teleconferences (for Danny Kaye) and later press junkets 
Warren Cowan on his advice to aspiring publicity professionals
People

Steve Allen

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Publicist Warren Cowan on representing Steve Allen, who was hosting a late-night radio show, and bringing him more celebrity interviews

Army Archerd

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Publicist Warren Cowan on working entertainment columnists including Louella Parsons, Hedda Hopper, Army Archerd, Rona Barrett, and Liz Smith

Rona Barrett

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Publicist Warren Cowan on working entertainment columnists including Louella Parsons, Hedda Hopper, Army Archerd, Rona Barrett, and Liz Smith

Milton Berle

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Publicist Warren Cowan on representing Milton Berle and Kirk Douglas
Publicist Warren Cowan on working with Milton Berle (and on Berle not writing his own theme song)

Frank Borzage

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Publicist Warren Cowan on the advent of celebrity charity fundraisers starting with the Frank Borzage Invitational Golf Tournament -- which garnered huge sports coverage; which led to the Bing Crosby golf tournament

George Burns

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Publicist Warren Cowan on representing George Burns

Gary Cooper

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Publicist Warren Cowan on representing "High Noon" and Gary Cooper's partnering with suspected Communist Carl Foreman; on some of his clients who appealed to the HUAC; on the atmosphere created by McCarthyism

Joan Crawford

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Publicist Warren Cowan on working on his first "For Your Consideration" Oscar campaign for Joan Crawford's Mildred Pierce

Doris Day

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Publicist Warren Cowan on working with Joanne Woodward and Doris Day

Kirk Douglas

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Publicist Warren Cowan on working with Kirk Douglas
Publicist Warren Cowan on Kirk Douglas being one of the first independent producers

Merv Griffin

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Publicist Warren Cowan on Merv Griffin's penning the theme song for Jeopardy
Publicist Warren Cowan on working with Merv Griffin

Bob Hope

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Publicist Warren Cowan on Mack Miller's 1950s publicity business, whose main client was Bob Hope

Jennifer Jones

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Publicist Warren Cowan on working with Jennifer Jones (without her knowing it)

Danny Kaye

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Publicist Warren Cowan on working with Danny Kaye (and his brilliance in dealing with the press)

Jack Lemmon

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Publicist Warren Cowan on representing Jack Lemmon

Paul Newman

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Publicist Warren Cowan on working with Paul Newman

Louella Parsons

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Publicist Warren Cowan on working entertainment columnists including Louella Parsons, Hedda Hopper, Army Archerd, Rona Barrett, and Liz Smith

Ronald Reagan

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Publicist Warren Cowan on publicizing Ronald Reagan (who at that time did not fly) and the series General Electric Theater

Henry Rogers

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Publicist Warren Cowan on first meeting Henry Rogers, working with him, and becoming his partner

Aaron Spelling

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Publicist Warren Cowan on working with Aaron Spelling; on getting him into the Guinness Book of World Records for being the most prolific producer; on some of his series

Jack Webb

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Publicist Warren Cowan on working with Jack Webb (through MCA television)

Joanne Woodward

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Publicist Warren Cowan on working with Joanne Woodward and Doris Day

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