Highlights on David Geffen | News Channel 3-12

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Here is a glimpse into the life of David Geffen, producer, studio executive and philanthropist.


Date of Birth: February 21, 1943

Place of birth: Brooklyn, New York

Birth name: David Laurent Geffen

Dad: Abraham Geffen, model maker

Mother: Batya (Volovskaya) Geffen, merchant

Education: Attended the University of Texas, Austin; Brooklyn College, City University of New York; and the City College of Santa Monica.

Other facts

He dropped out of Santa Monica City College, Brooklyn College, and the University of Texas.

Lied on his job application to the William Morris agency, saying he graduated from UCLA.

The David Geffen Medical Scholarships provide full tuition to outstanding applicants attending the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

Under Geffen’s tenure, Geffen Records featured popular artists such as Cher, Donna Summer, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Elton John and Guns ‘N’ Roses.

During the 1990s, Geffen was one of the top fundraisers 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 supported Senator Barack Obama, rather than Hillary Clinton. Geffen was quoted in The New York Times as saying, “Everyone in politics lies, but they (Bill and Hillary Clinton) do it with such ease, it’s disturbing.”


1964-1968 – Works as a mailroom clerk and 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-founded Asylum Records with Elliot Roberts.

1971 – Sells Asylum Records to Warner Communications for $7 million.

1975 – Becomes Vice President of Warner Brothers Pictures.

1976 – Is misdiagnosed with bladder cancer.

nineteen eighty one – Produced “Dreamgirls” on Broadway.

1982 – Produced “Cats” and “Little Shop of Horrors” on Broadway.

1982 – Founds the 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-founded Dreamworks Studio with Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg.

1995 – Dreamworks signs a $100 million contract with ABC.

May 2002 – Donates $200 million to UCLA in what is considered the largest donation to an American medical school in history at that time. The David Geffen Medical School is named in his honor after this donation.

January 2006Dreamworks is sold to Paramount Pictures.

2008 – Leave 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 David Geffen Medical School at UCLA.

March 4, 2015 – Lincoln Center announces it will rename Avery Fisher Hall – better known as the home of the New York Philharmonic – David Geffen Hall in thanks for the movie mogul’s $100 million donation.

September 2015 – The David Geffen Foundation sells two paintings for $500 million to billionaire Ken Griffin in one of the largest contemporary art deals in the world.

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 sold his Beverly Hills estate to Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos for $165 million, a price believed to be the highest price ever paid for a home in a California real estate deal.

June 30, 2021 – In a statement, Yale University’s School of Drama announces a $150 million donation from Geffen, making tuition free for all current and future students. The donation is the largest donation in American theater history, according to Yale.

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