By all accounts, Jack Kent Cooke was an extraordinary man. From humble beginnings he built a media empire of radio stations, cable television, magazines and newspapers, and an impressive portfolio of prestigious properties and sports teams. Despite his success, Mr. Cooke always regretted that his personal circumstances did not afford him the opportunity to attend college as a young man.
When he died in 1997, Mr. Cooke left most of his fortune to establish the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, and with this gift he created a legacy of providing worthy individuals of limited means with the opportunity to achieve their full potential through education. Today, through his generosity, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation offers the most individualized scholarships available to high-potential students with significant financial need.
Jack Kent Cooke was born in 1912 in Ontario, Canada. He was both an athlete and a musician, and as a young man he dreamt of pursuing a formal education. That dream was cut short when he left high school during the Depression to work full time to help support his family.
Mr. Cooke spent three years selling encyclopedias door-to-door, and then he managed a radio station in Ontario, eventually partnering with media executive Roy Thomson. Together they operated radio stations and newspapers throughout Canada. Mr. Cooke moved to the United States and became a U.S. citizen in 1960.
To Mr. Cooke, education was a lifelong pursuit. A passionate student his entire life, he was knowledgeable in fields as diverse as literature, music, sports, and architecture. His holdings were also diverse, including television stations and newspapers, as well as the Chrysler Building in New York City. Among the sports teams he owned were the Los Angeles Lakers, the Los Angeles Kings, and the Washington Redskins. As a musician, he was a member of the American Society of Composers and Producers. He collected fine art, owned racehorses, and was a colorful public figure.
Mr. Cooke died on April 6, 1997, leaving the bulk of his fortune to establish the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, his life’s legacy. His advice to young people remains the driving force behind the Foundation’s mission: “Destiny demands you do better than your supposed best.”
View a chronology of the highlights of Mr. Cooke's career.
In 2004, in response to inquiries from Jack Kent Cooke Scholars, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation commissioned and published a biography of Mr. Cooke's career.
We invite you to download a copy of the book through the links below.