David Brown was a producer and production executive who, with longtime friend Richard Zanuck, formed the independent Zanuck-Brown production company, responsible for two of Hollywood's all time biggest smash hits, the Oscar-winning The Sting (1973) and Steven Spielberg's Jaws (1975). Brown and Zanuck also produced Spielberg's feature film debut Sugarland Express (1974), thereby launching the career of one of Hollywood's most important directors. The extraordinary Brown went on to produce a number of other important and popular films, including the Paul Newman tour-de-force The Verdict (1982), the Oscar-winning Driving Miss Daisy (1989), and Robert Altman's acclaimed satire The Player (1992).
Born in New York City, Brown attended Stanford University and the Columbia School of Journalism before working as editor-in-chief of Liberty Magazine, and as managing editor of Cosmopolitan. He was also a short story writer of note before becoming story editor at 20th Century Fox in 1953. Brown was later promoted to the head of the scenario department, where he began his long-term friendship with Zanuck, the son of studio head Darryl Zanuck. Brown continued to work at Fox in various executive capacities until 1969, when Richard Zanuck became the studio president and Brown himself was appointed as the executive vice president of creative operations. Later, both were thrown out of Fox and went to work at Warner Bros., where Brown was executive vice president and a member of the board of directors. He and Zanuck formed their own company in 1972.
Over their long careers, Brown and Zanuck were distinguished with numerous awards, notably the prestigious Irving G. Thalberg Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1991 and the David O. Selznick Lifetime Achievement Award from the Producers Guild of America in 1995. Brown was married to author and former Cosmopolitan editor Helen Gurley Brown. He died at age 93 in February 2010, survived by his wife.