David Geffen Fast Facts
CNN Editorial Research
Here is a look at the life of David Geffen, producer, studio executive and philanthropist.
Birth date: February 21, 1943
Birth place: Brooklyn, New York
Birth name: David Lawrence Geffen
Father: Abraham Geffen, pattern maker
Mother: Batya (Volovskaya) Geffen, shopkeeper
Education: Attended University of Texas, Austin; Brooklyn College, City University of New York; and Santa Monica City College.
He dropped out of Santa Monica City College, Brooklyn College and the University of Texas.
Lied on his William Morris Agency job application, saying that he graduated from UCLA.
Under Geffen’s tenure, Geffen Records was home to popular artists such as Cher, Donna Summer, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Elton John and Guns ‘N’ Roses.
During the 1990s, Geffen was a top fundraiser for the Democratic party. He was rewarded with an overnight stay at the White House during Bill Clinton’s presidency.
Prior to the 2008 presidential election, Geffen threw his support behind Senator Barack Obama, rather than Hillary Clinton. Geffen was quoted in the New York Times as saying, “Everybody in politics lies, but they (Bill and Hillary Clinton) do it with such ease, it’s troubling.”
1964-1968 – Works as a mail room clerk and an agent at the William Morris Agency.
1968 – Talent agent for Ashley Famous Agency.
1969 – Executive vice president and talent agent for Creative Management Associates.
1970 – Co-founds Asylum Records with Elliot Roberts.
1971 – Sells Asylum Records to Warner Communications for $7 million.
1975 – Becomes vice chairman of Warner Brothers Pictures.
1976 – Is misdiagnosed with bladder cancer.
1981 – Produces “Dreamgirls” on Broadway.
1982 – Produces “Cats” and “Little Shop of Horrors” on Broadway.
1982 – Founds Geffen Film Company.
1983 – Geffen Film Company releases “Risky Business.”
1990 – Sells Geffen Records to Music Corporation of America (MCA) for $550 million.
1990 – Wins a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program, “Beetlejuice.”
1994 – Co-founds Dreamworks Studio with Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg.
1995 – Dreamworks signs a $100 million deal with ABC.
May 2002 – Donates $200 million to UCLA in what is considered the largest single donation to a US medical school in history at that time. The David Geffen Medical School is named in his honor after this donation.
January 2006 – Dreamworks is sold to Paramount Pictures.
2008 – Leaves Dreamworks.
March 5, 2010 – Is inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as a “non-performer.”
February 12, 2011 – Receives the Grammys President’s Merit Award.
2012 – Donates $100 million to UCLA’s David Geffen Medical School.
March 4, 2015 – Lincoln Center announces it will rename Avery Fisher Hall — best known as the home of the New York Philharmonic — David Geffen Hall in gratitude for the movie mogul’s $100 million gift.
September 2015 – The David Geffen Foundation sells two paintings for $500 million to billionaire Ken Griffin in one of the world’s largest contemporary art deals.
February 7, 2020 – The Motion Picture Academy unveils the David Geffen Theater at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures.
February 12, 2020 – The Wall Street Journal reports that Geffen has sold his Beverly Hills estate to Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos for $165 million, a price believed to be the highest ever paid for a home in a California real estate transaction.
June 30, 2021 – In a statement, Yale University’s drama school announces a $150 million donation from Geffen, making tuition free for all current and future students. The gift is the largest donation in the history of American theater, according to Yale.
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