is a well-known entrepreneur and philanthropist
who started the record companies Asylum
Records and Geffen Records and is one
of the founders of Dreamworks SKG, a large
Hollywood entertainment company.
Geffen was born on February 21, 1943 in
Brooklyn, New York to a Polish father,
Abraham Geffen, and Ukrainian mother,
Batya Volovskaya. Geffen spent his childhood
in Brooklyn and attended the New Utrecht
High School before attending Santa Monica
College. He eventually dropped out of
Santa Monica but continued his education
by attending night school at Brooklyn
College. Again, Geffen dropped out. Geffen
tried college one more time at the University
of Texas at Austin, but never finished.
of trying to finish his degree, Geffen
moved to California and began working
at William Morris Agency where he quickly
rose through the ranks to become an agent.
Unfortunately, in order to become an agent,
Geffen had to show proof that he graduated
college. So he forged a letter and was
given a position at the company. Later,
Geffen left WMA and created his own management
company and managed the careers of Laura
Nyro and Crosby, Stills and Nash. While
representing multiple musical talents,
a friend, Ahmet Ertegun, suggested that
Geffen start his own record label.
1970 David Geffen founded Asylum Records.
The company represented and signed multiple
artists like Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan,
Linda Ronstadt, and The Eagles. Two years
after its creation, Asylum Records was
bought by Warner Communications and merged
with Elektra Records to become Elektra/Asylum
continued to run the record company until
1975 when he took the position of Vice
Chairman of Warner Brothers film studios.
Geffen then decided to retire and was
soon diagnosed with a life-threatening
illness. He decided to dedicate his retirement
to teaching business studies at Yale University.
1980, only a few years after the diagnosis,
a new team of physicians found an error
in the original findings and determined
that Geffen was healthy. With a clean
bill of health, Geffen decided to return
to work in the entertainment industry.
That same year, Geffen founded Geffen
Records and recruited Ed Rosenblatt, an
executive at Warner Brothers Records,
to come work for him. With his new label,
Geffen signed Donna Summer and John Lennon.
Later that year Lennon was fatally shot
and his Geffen album, Double Fantasy,
became a huge hit. Geffen continued to
sign new as well as proven talent such
as John Wetton, Elton John, Guns N' Roses,
Nirvana, and Weezer. In 1990 the Geffen
label was sold to MCA and became part
of the Universal Music Group.
years after selling his record label,
Geffen co-founded Dreamworks SKG with
Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg.
Geffen stayed with the company from 1994
to 2008 when he left it to start another
company that will eventually be run by
Spielberg and Stacey Snider.
addition to his entertainment ventures,
David Geffen is also a well-known philanthropist
to organizations that promote medical
research, AIDS research, and the arts.
He has also supported fund-raisers for
the Clinton administration as well as
raising $1.3 million for the Obama campaign.
is openly gay. According to Forbes magazine
he had an estimated net worth of $5.6
billion in 2012. He has a home in Malibu
and owns the Malibu Beach Inn which he
opened to firefighters and evacuees during
the 2007 California wildfires.
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