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David Geffen

David Geffen

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Also Known As: David Lawrence Geffen Died:
Born: February 21, 1943 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Brooklyn, New York, USA Profession: executive, producer, agent

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

A notorious and high-powered media mogul, David Geffen rose from a working-class Brooklyn upbringing to become one of the most influential and successful entertainment magnates in history. An adroit businessman, Geffen founded both Asylum Records and Geffen Records, and went on to be one of the co-founders of the film studio DreamWorks, SKG. As a record producer, he helped establish performers as diverse as Joni Mitchell, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, the Eagles, and Guns N' Roses. Named one of Forbes magazine's richest Americans many times over, Geffen's net worth in 2006 was estimated at $4.4 billion. Also a well-known philanthropist, he provided funding and support to medical research, AIDS organizations, the Democratic National party, and the arts; after endowing UCLA's Medical Center with $200 million, the center was renamed The David Geffen School of Medicine. As famous in the tabloids as he was in the business world, Geffen's personal life made headlines many times over. He was linked romantically to both Cher and actress Marlo Thomas before publicly acknowledging that he was gay in 1992, and dealt with a four-year bout of cancer which later proved to be a misdiagnosis. With his overwhelming...

A notorious and high-powered media mogul, David Geffen rose from a working-class Brooklyn upbringing to become one of the most influential and successful entertainment magnates in history. An adroit businessman, Geffen founded both Asylum Records and Geffen Records, and went on to be one of the co-founders of the film studio DreamWorks, SKG. As a record producer, he helped establish performers as diverse as Joni Mitchell, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, the Eagles, and Guns N' Roses. Named one of Forbes magazine's richest Americans many times over, Geffen's net worth in 2006 was estimated at $4.4 billion. Also a well-known philanthropist, he provided funding and support to medical research, AIDS organizations, the Democratic National party, and the arts; after endowing UCLA's Medical Center with $200 million, the center was renamed The David Geffen School of Medicine. As famous in the tabloids as he was in the business world, Geffen's personal life made headlines many times over. He was linked romantically to both Cher and actress Marlo Thomas before publicly acknowledging that he was gay in 1992, and dealt with a four-year bout of cancer which later proved to be a misdiagnosis. With his overwhelming ambition and financial prowess, Geffen truly became the king of an entertainment empire.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Raised in Brooklyn
1963:
Started career at CBS Television in L.A.; reportedly fired for striking an audience member who applauded the announcement of the assassination of President John F Kennedy
1963:
Began career working in mailroom of William Morris talent agency (date approximate)
:
Became a junior agent at William Morris
1968:
Moved to Ashley Famous Agency as a music agent
:
Became an agent at Creative Management
1969:
Co-founded (with Elliott Roberts) talent management company for musicians he discovered and developed; first hit performer was Laura Nyro (date approximate)
1969:
Engineered sale of Nyro's publishing company, Tuna Fish Ltd., for $4 million; received half
1970:
Founded Asylum Records
1973:
President then chairman, Electra-Asylum Records; sold to Warner Communications (for a reported $7 million); also headed film production unit at Warner Communications
1975:
Named vice chairman, Warner Bros. Pictures
1976:
Diagnosed with cancer; later discovered to be mis-diagnosis
1977:
Named executive assistant to the chairman, Warner Communications
1980:
Formed Geffen Records (independent label) and Geffen Film Co.
1982:
Produced first Broadway play, "Master Harold...and the Boys"
1982:
Produced first feature, "Personal Best"
1989:
Produced first TV series, "Beetlejuice" (animated)
1990:
Sold Geffen Records to MCA
1990:
March 20 formed DGC (David Geffen Company) music
1992:
Came out as gay at a "Commitment to Life" benefit for AIDS Project Los Angeles
1994:
Announced, along with former Disney executive Jeffrey Katzenberg and Steven Spielberg, the forming of DreamWorks SKG, a new studio that would produce movies at a more cost efficient level than the major studios
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Education

University of Texas at Austin: Austin , Texas -

Notes

The Geffen-produced play, "Master Harold...and the Boys" was also nominated for a Best Play Tony award (1982).

Reflecting on whether his success can be attributed to brains or to luck, Geffen remarked, "Luck is just about being in the traffic. And I've stayed in traffic for a long time now. I've been wealthy my entire adult life. But I'll tell you one thing. I wouldn't rather be smart than lucky. I'll take it however it comes. Because I'd rather win than be right." --quoted in VANITY FAIR, March 1991

Geffen, who has been characterized as the man who went from "being in love with Cher to being in love with Marlo Thomas to being in love with a guy at Studio 54", has attracted controversy for both his promiscuity ("I began wanting to get laid a lot [after they removed the tumor]") and his bisexuality. On the latter topic he frankly admitted, "I date men and I date women. What Woody Allen said was true. Say what you will about bisexuality, you have a 50 percent better chance of finding a date on Saturday night." (quoted in VANITY FAIR, March 1991) About a year later Geffen publicly disclosed his homosexuality at a benefit fundraiser for AIDS.

Part of the reason for Geffen's success may be due to his versatility; according to friend restaurateur Peter Morton, "David is the most perfect combination of business and artist. Unlike almost everybody else, he functions in both worlds." --quoted in VANITY FAIR, March 1991

Member of the music faculty at Yale University (1978); he has also taught at UCLA.

Companions close complete companion listing

companion:
Marlo Thomas. Actor.
companion:
Cher. Singer, actress. Began relationship in 1972; announced plans to marry; Cher ended relationship in 1974.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Abraham Geffen. Patternmaker.
mother:
Batya Geffen. Seamstress, shop owner. Died in 1988; took in sewing during the Depression then opened own corset shop, Chic Corsets by Geffen.
brother:
Mitchell Geffen. Attorney. Older.

Bibliography close complete biography

"The Rise and Rise of David Geffen" Birch Lane Press
"The Operator: David Geffen Builds, Buys, and Sells the New Hollywood" Random House

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