Dennis Carothers Stanfill
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Dennis Carothers Stanfill is an American business executive, Rhodes Scholar and philanthropist. He is best known for his stewardship of the 20th Century Fox Film Corporation from 1971 to 1981 as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. He joined Fox in 1969 in the newly created post of Executive Vice President-Finance, and at the same time became a member of Fox’s Board of Directors and Executive Committee. Prior to joining Fox, he served as Vice President at the Times Mirror Company, and at Lehman Brothers in New York as a Corporate Finance Specialist.
During his tenure at Fox the studio was turned around from near bankruptcy, partly as a result of the extravagant prior managements. Under Stanfill’s guidance, Fox became a diversified, prosperous company largely through internal development and acquisition activities. The market value of Fox’s common stock in the early 1970s was approximately $40 million; its 1980 sales were $865 million with after-tax profits of $55 million. Stockholders received over $800 million in cash and stock when Fox was sold in mid-1981.
Born on April 1, 1927 in Centerville, Tennessee, Dennis Stanfill is the son of Sam Broome and Hattie Carothers Stanfill. He is descended on both sides from landowning Southern families who had emigrated from Scotland and England in the early 18th century, among whom were several signers of the Magna Carta. During the American Civil War Stanfill’s ancestors fought for the Confederacy, including Captain William Carothers, who was gravely injured.
Dennis C. Stanfill spent most of his childhood in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee. In 1945, upon graduation from high school, where he was class president and Valedictorian, he was appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy. He graduated from Annapolis in the top one per cent of his class and, at Commencement, was awarded the prize for leadership by President Harry Truman. Afterwards he served at sea for one year aboard U.S. Navy cruisers. He was then selected for a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University, where he subsequently earned an M.A. degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics. After leaving Oxford, he returned to active sea duty and later served in the Foreign Affairs section of the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, where his duties at the Pentagon included regularly briefing the Secretary of the Navy on international affairs.
While at Annapolis, Stanfill met Therese Olivieri, an American of Italian descent, from West Haven, Connecticut, who was attending college in Maryland. They were married in 1951 in Interlaken, Switzerland, during Stanfill’s first year at Oxford. It was then they began their extensive travels throughout Europe which were to become a lifelong passion and influence in their lives.
After his service in the Navy, Stanfill began his business career at Lehman Brothers in New York City as an investment banker. In 1965, the family—which then included daughters Francesca and Michaela Sara, and a son, Dennis—moved to Los Angeles. There Stanfill began his tenure as Vice President-Finance of the Times Mirror Company.
Dennis C. Stanfill is also known for his work in the greater Los Angeles community as well as in the corporate world. His board affiliations have included the California Institute of Technology, Dial Corporation, Golden State Minority Foundation, the Weingart Foundation, and Whittier Trust Company. He has been an Honorary Trustee of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, appointed by President Ronald Reagan. As former chairman of KCET, the public television for Southern California, he helped save the struggling station from bankruptcy. He is an active member of the California Club, Los Angeles.
Stanfill and his wife Terry continue to live in San Marino, California where they are involved in the cultural life of greater Los Angeles, including San Marino and Pasadena. Terry Stanfill, author of two novels, is a Life Trustee of the Los Angeles Opera, an Overseer Emeritus of the Huntington Library, and Vice President of Save Venice, as well as Chairman of Save Venice/California Chapter. Their daughter Francesca Stanfill is a writer and novelist in New York, and is married to Richard B. Nye, a businessman and founder of Baker Nye Advisers. Their son Dennis Stanfill lives in Thailand, where he is a director of HB DESIGN, an architectural and design company. Their late daughter, Michaela Sara Stanfill, was a historical researcher in Boston. The Stanfills have two grandchildren, Serena Stanfill Tufo and Peter Stanfill Tufo, both of whom live and work in New York City.
- Thomas, Tony; Solomon, Aubrey (1979). The films of 20th Century-Fox: a pictorial history. Citadel Press. p. 22. ISBN 978-0-8065-0719-4. Retrieved 13 June 2011.