Henry Rogers; Co-Founded Major PR Firm
Henry C. Rogers, co-founder of the world’s largest entertainment public relations agency, died Friday at his home in Brentwood. He was 82.
Rogers, who always described himself as merely “a Hollywood press agent” although he represented Fortune 500 companies as well as such superstars as Rita Hayworth, Audrey Hepburn and Gary Cooper, teamed up with Warren Cowan in 1950 to create Rogers & Cowan.
Often called the dean of entertainment publicists, Rogers chronicled his long tenure in the business in a 1980 autobiography titled “Walking the Tightrope.” His work, he explained, was a careful stretch between the desire to promote his clients and the need to maintain credibility with the news media.
Rogers followed that book with another, “Rogers’ Rules for Success,” which detailed how his midlife crisis prompted him to widen his firm’s reach to corporate clients as well as celebrities, and prodded him to become a fund-raiser for the arts in Los Angeles.
In promoting the arts, Rogers served as chairman of the Center Theatre Group and was a board member of the Performing Arts Council of the Los Angeles County Music Center, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the American Council for the Arts. He was a vice chairman of the American Film Institute and chairman of an advisory committee to the U.S. Information Agency. He also served on the board of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce.
Rogers is credited with setting many creative and ethical standards in public relations. His innovative “full-scale publicity blitz Oscar campaign” in 1945 helped Joan Crawford win the best actress Academy Award and set a pattern still followed by stars and studios.
He started his own publicity firm in 1935 when he was 21, capitalized by $500 borrowed from his father. By the time he teamed up with Cowan, he was one of Hollywood’s most successful independent public relations professionals.
Rogers & Cowan quickly grew into the world’s largest public relations agency, expanding to include corporate clients as well as motion picture, television and recording stars.
Rogers is survived by his wife of 58 years, Rosalind; a son, Ron; a daughter, Marcia; two sisters, Lillian Washauer and Estelle Morris, and two grandchildren.
Services are scheduled for 2 p.m. Monday at Hillside Memorial Park.
The family has asked that any memorial contributions be made to the John Wayne Cancer Institute, 1328 22nd St., Santa Monica, Calif. 90404.