Henry and Roz Rogers

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Henry C. Rogers and Roz Rogers were American publicists during the golden era of Hollywood.

Henry Rogers career[edit]

Henry Rogers founded the first independent public relations firm in 1935 and with his partner Warren Cowan later founded the largest entertainment public relations agency in the world, Rogers and Cowan. Crediting him with being the founder of modern day publicity, the New York Times wrote, "Henry C. Rogers transformed the seedy world of the Hollywood press agent into a plush-carpet profession. Rogers was known as the man who elevated industry ethical standards, particularly through his insistence that public relations professionals had as much responsibility to the news media as they did to their clients."[1]

"He was the Cary Grant of public relations."[2] Henry Rogers created the now famous Oscar campaign when in 1945 he turned Joan Crawford from “box office poison” to an Oscar winner for best actress in a leading role for her performance in “Mildred Pierce.” The NY Times wrote, “Mr. Rogers, who was credited with making Rita Hayworth a household name and with creating the sweeping publicity campaigns that have become a fixture of the annual quest for Academy Awards, became almost as well known in Hollywood as the famous clients” who included Audrey Hepburn, Lucille Ball, Paul Newman, Frank Sinatra, Cary Grant, Gregory Peck, Danny Kaye, Rex Harrison, Gary Cooper, Kirk Douglas, Liz Taylor, Shirley MacLaine, Olivia de Havilland, Jane Wyatt and Jane Wyman. Later expanding into international and corporate PR, representing Fortune 500 companies and earning the prestigious appointment as Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh’s, first ever publicist.[1]

In a December 31, 1995, New York Times article about Rogers and another public relations pioneer, Edward L. Bernays, Neal Gabler supplied the following information:

"Self-effacing where Bernays was self-aggrandizing, instinctive where Bernays was theoretical, Rogers made his name operating not in posh corporate board rooms but in the comparatively ignoble precincts of Hollywood. There, he and his longtime partner, Warren Cowan, commanded Rogers & Cowan, the largest and by most measures the most successful P.R. firm for the stars -- one that has served as a model for Hollywood press relations to this day. BORN IN IRVINGTON, N.J., where his parents ran a dry-goods store, Rogers attended the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School with the intention of earning a business degree, but the Depression aborted that plan, and he eventually wound up in Los Angeles in 1935, clipping newspapers for a P.R. woman there. Within a year, despite a severe stutter, he decided to set up his own firm with a $500 loan from his father. "I still don't understand why anyone will pay you to put his name in the paper," his father said common-sensically, "but I'll accept your word on that."
Where Bernays applied Freud, Rogers applied show-business flimflam, spending his early years in P.R. seeding columns with mentions of entertainment marginalities. His breakthrough came in 1939 when he met a beautiful but unknown starlet named Rita Hayworth, then a contract player at Columbia Pictures who feared being dropped without some new publicity.
Rogers went to an editor at Look magazine, told him that Hayworth spent every cent she made on clothes and produced a telegram from the Fashion Couturiers Association of America (a fictitious organization) that declared Hayworth the best-dressed off-screen actress. Taking the bait, Look provided a photographer, Rogers persuaded clothiers to provide the wardrobe, Hayworth struck a seductive pose that made the magazine's cover and her career, as well as Rogers's, was on its way.
The timing couldn't have been better. If Bernays was a man of the '20s and '30s, trying to hold back the tide of the ascendant masses, Rogers—as tanned, dapper and distinguished looking as a Hollywood leading man—was very much a product of the '40s and '50s, satisfying those masses as they luxuriated in their popular culture. Though he, too, later moved into corporate consulting, his stock in trade was promoting the stars. 'Dog food and movie stars are much alike,' he once wrote, 'because they are both products in need of exposure.'
What Rogers was really selling, however, was the image of a star—a job that turned out to be as problematic for our perception of reality as Bernays's. In his autobiography, appropriately titled 'Walking the Tightrope,' Rogers tells of being solicited for a consultation with Montgomery Clift. The actor was feeling increasingly imprisoned by public pressure to reveal more about his personal life. Over lunch at a Manhattan bistro, Clift took two sips from his martini and slid drunkenly to the floor. Rogers hoisted him home; astounded and embarrassed, he didn't take the actor as a client.
What Rogers didn't recognize was that Clift may have been a victim of the very trade Rogers plied. His was the tragedy of one who had lost his moorings, his sense of himself, in a sea of images. Writ large, it may be our tragedy, too. Rogers and Bernays helped spawn an industry that now employs about 100,000 and continues to grow."[3]

Hollywood 10[edit]

Rogers stood firm against the House Un-American Activities Committee. Rogers walked away from his long established relationship with John Wayne to stand in solidarity with friends and clients who were being accused by the HUAC, like Carl Foreman. Rogers worked with the Committee for the First Amendment and his friend William Wyler to create the “flight of the stars” aboard Howard Hughes's plane bound for Washington DC and the HUAC hearings. The stars Rogers flew with included Ira Gershwin, Gene Kelly, Humphrey Bogart, Lucille Ball, Lauren Bacall, John Huston, Philip Dunne and Danny Kaye. En route, they stopped at airfields in cities across the country to share their concerns with average Americans who came to greet them. Eventually, they landed in Washington, where they sat in the audience of HUAC hearings in respectful protest for several days. On October 26, 1947, the day before the Hollywood 10 testified, the CFA broadcast a national radio program called "Hollywood Fights Back!", featuring Judy Garland, Gene Kelly, Lauren Bacall, Humphrey Bogart, Burt Lancaster and William Holden.[4][5]

Roz Rogers[edit]

Henry’s wife Rosalind (Roz) Rogers (née Jaffe) founded the west coast’s first women’s political action committee, Women FOR. Roz championed the likes of Mayor Tom Bradley, Governor Pat Brown, Senator Alan Cranston, Rosalind Wiener Wyman and presidential candidate Robert F Kennedy. Rosalind’s favorite aunt, Ad Schulberg, inspired her activism. Ad Schulberg, wife of Paramount head, BP Schulberg, was the first female agent to own her own agency (representing the likes of Marlene Dietrich) and a relentless activist (who founded a progressive school, promoted the family court, and organized birth control clinics throughout the West and an “underground railroad” in London for refugee talent from Nazi-occupied Europe). Ad and BP’s son was Roz’s favorite cousin, Oscar winning screenwriter, Budd Schulberg (On the Waterfront, A Face in the Crowd, What Makes Sammy Run). Budd stayed in Roz and Henry’s guesthouse when in Los Angeles. Another famous resident of their guesthouse was Mikhail Baryshnikov, shortly after defecting from the Soviet Union.[6]

Roz Rogers is believed to have influenced the beginnings of serious art collecting in Los Angeles. She championed and befriended emerging artists such as Bob Graham, Ed Ruscha and Sam Francis. The centerpiece of her own collection included a rare Calder mobile. LACMA frequently organized member visits to Henry and Roz’s home on Cliffwood Avenue in Brentwood.[7]

The first of the Hollywood insiders to settle in Brentwood, the Rogers’s home was the setting for glamorous soirees in Hollywood. Their friends and guests include not only the leading actors of the time but also the players shaping the political and art scene. Close friends included Irving Wallace, Charles Wick, Jack Valenti, Gordon Davidson, Sidney Harman, Franklin Schaffner, Lew Wasserman, Milton Sperling, Gregory Peck, Norman Lear, Carl Reiner and Roz’s best friend, Audrey Hepburn.[7]

Hollywood pioneers[edit]

Roz Rogers’s uncle Sam Jaffe was the famed producer and agent who represented Lauren Bacall, Humphrey Bogart, Richard Burton, Stanley Kubrick and David Niven. Sam's wife, Mildred, Roz's aunt, was the sister of Phil Gersh, who got his start as an agent with Sam and later founded The Gersh Agency, a highly successful agency with major movie actors, writers and directors as clients (NY Times obit of May 12, 2004 by Bernard Weinraub; <http://www.nytimes.com/2004/05/12/us/phil-gersh-a-leading-agent-in-hollywood-is-dead-at-92.html> accessed Jul 13, 2011 11:10 pm.) The grandson of Sam Jaffe is today’s president of Columbia Pictures Sony, Matt Tolmach. Matt is responsible for such franchise hits as Spider-Man.

Roz and Henry had two children, Marcia and Ron. Marcia had two children from her first marriage to Mark Goddard and was married for 15 years to Mike Medavoy. Ron Rogers married Lisa Specht. Ron is the founder of one of the largest PR firms in California, The Roger Group, and is a vice-chair of the board of the USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, a board member of the L.A. Chamber of Commerce, a founding board member of the Institute for Myeloma and Bone Cancer Research, founding member of the Los Angeles Police Foundation, founding chair of the Los Angeles Fire Department Foundation and for 25 years has been on the board of the Rape Treatment Center at Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center. He has also served on the boards of Coro and Outward Bound. Lisa Specht is a partner at Mannat, Phelps & Phillips whose various civic assignments have included chairing the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission and serving as a City of Los Angeles Recreation and Parks Commissioner.[8]

Roz and Henry Rogers' granddaughter is producer Melissa Goddard (Poison Ivy, Big Girls Don't Cry They Get Even and What Women Want). Their grandson is Michael Goddard who was featured in several high profile articles in such as The New Yorker, NY Times, LA Times and Los Angeles Magazine) for his unique role as manager of The Grill in Beverly Hills.[9]

Philanthropy[edit]

Henry Rogers was 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 was also on the board of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce.[10]

Henry Rogers wrote four books including Walking the Tightrope: The Private Confessions of a Public Relations Man (ISBN 0688035892), Rogers' Rules for Success (ISBN 031268830X), Rogers' Rules for Businesswomen: How to Start a Career and Move Up the Ladder (ISBN 0312010818) and The One-Hat Solution: Rogers's Strategy for Creative Middle Management (ISBN 0312585241). Rogers was posthumously honored with the creation of a scholarship fund at the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b New York Times May 1, 1995, Obituaries
  2. ^ Warren Cowan quoted in New York Times May 1, 1995 Obituaries
  3. ^ [1] retrieved 13 July 2011
  4. ^ MPR Update August 1995
  5. ^ Walking the Tightrope published by Berkley June 1, 1982
  6. ^ Walking the Tightrope published by Berkley (June 1, 1982) and Rogers Rules For Success Publisher: St. Martin's Press (April 1986)
  7. ^ a b Walking the Tightrope published by Berkley (June 1, 1982) and Rogers Rules For Success Publisher:St. Martin's Press (April 1986)
  8. ^ Los Angeles Times[when?]
  9. ^ Los Angeles Magazine Jan 2006
  10. ^ Los Angeles Times April 29, 1995