David Geffen born 21 February 1943
David Lawrence Geffen is a record executive, film producer, and theatrical producer, and philanthropist. Geffen is most noted for creating Geffen Records in 1980, and being one of the three founders of Dreamworks SKG.
Born in New York, Geffen attended the University of Texas at Austin but soon dropped out.
He began his entertainment career in the mailroom at the William Morris Agency, where he quickly became an agent. He left William Morris to become a personal manager and was immediately successful with Laura Nyro and Crosby, Stills and Nash. In the process of looking for a record deal for young Jackson Browne, Ahmet Ertegun suggested that Geffen start his own record label. Geffen founded Asylum Records in 1971, which signed artists such as Browne, The Eagles and Linda Ronstadt.
Asylum was acquired by Warner Communications and merged with Elektra Records in 1972 to become Elektra/Asylum Records. Geffen remained in charge until 1975, when he resigned as director. He worked briefly as Vice Chairman of the Warner Bros. film studios before retiring for a few years (during which he taught business at Yale University.
In 1980, he founded Geffen Records. After releasing John Lennon's album Double Fantasy in December of that year (because, Lennon said, Geffen Records was the only label with enough confidence in him to agree to a deal without hearing the record first), Geffen found themselves with a massive seller, albeit in tragic circumstances, when Lennon was murdered later that month. This helped bring the new label a mass of attention. Geffen Records/DGC became well known also for releasing works by the likes of Cher, Aerosmith, Guns N' Roses, Nirvana, Neil Young, and Weezer.
Through the Geffen Film Company, David Geffen produced dark-tinged comedies such as (the 1986 version of) Little Shop of Horrors, Risky Business and Beetlejuice. Geffen was the Broadway backer for the musicals Dreamgirls and Cats. In 1994, Geffen co-founded the DreamWorks studio with Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg.
Geffen, who is openly gay, was the subject of a persistent but false 1990s rumour that he had married actor Keanu Reeves. Before he came out as openly gay, he dated Cher and Marlo Thomas in the late 1970s.
Geffen is a prominent philanthropist, renowned for his support to medical research, AIDS organisations, the arts and theatre.
According to Forbes Magazine (The 400 Richest Americans of 2004) and other sources, Geffen has pledged to give whatever money he makes from now on to charity (although he has not specified specific charities or the manner of his giving). In 2002, he announced a $200 million unrestricted endowment for UCLA Medical School.
Geffen is a keen collector of American artists' work, including Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and Willem de Kooning. In October 2006 he sold two paintings by Jasper Johns and a De Kooning from his collection for a combined sum of $143.5m. In November 2006, the New York Times reported that Geffen had sold Pollock's 1948 painting No. 5, 1948 from his collection for a world record price of $140m (£73.35m) to a secretive Mexican financier David Martinez.
Geffen is the subject of Joni Mitchell's song Free Man in Paris. Mitchell and Geffen were close friends, and in the early 1970s made a trip to Paris with Robbie and Dominique Robertson.
Geffen can be heard on Barbra Streisand’s The Broadway Album, released in 1985. The track Putting It Together features Geffen, Sydney Pollack, and Ken Sylk portraying the voices of record company executives talking to Barbra. He resides in Malibu, California. He, along with other celebrities including Steven Spielberg and Brad Pitt donated money to stop Proposition 8 from becoming law in California.
David Geffen was named one of the 2010 recepients of Ahmet Ertegun Award from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
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