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Copyright © 1998-2010 Roger A. Lee and History Guy Media; Last Modified: 11.09.10
David Lawrence Geffen (b. February 21, 1943) is a record executive, film and theater producer, and philanthropist. Geffen is best known for founding Geffen Records in 1980, and for founders of the Dreamworks SKG movie studio.
David Geffen entered the entertainment business by starting out in the mailroom of the William Morris Agency, a talent agency which manages performers. He quickly rose through the ranks and became an agent with the company. After Geffen left the William Morris Agency, he became the manager for Laura Nyro and Crosby, Stills and Nash. Deciding to start his own company, Geffen founded Asylum Records in 1971, working with Jackson Browne, The Eagles, and Linda Ronstadt, among others. He sold Asylum to Warner Communications which merged it with Elektra Records in 1972 to become Elektra/Asylum Records. Geffen remained the director of Electra/Asylum Records until1975. He became a Vice Chairman of Warner Bros. studios, but left that position to teach business at Yale University.
In 1980, David Geffen founded Geffen Records. The new company's first hit was the John Lennon's album Double Fantasy, released in December of 1980, just prior to Lennon's death. Geffen Records grew as it released albums by Cher, Aerosmith, Guns N' Roses, Nirvana, Neil Young, and other big-name acts.
Geffen also founded the Geffen Film Company, which released hit movies such as Little Shop of Horrors, Risky Business and Beetlejuice. David Geffen provided financial backing for top Broadway musicals like Dreamgirls and Cats. In 1994, Geffen partnered with old friends and fellow producers Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg to form a new film company, Dreamworks SKG. David Geffen is a billionaire, worth an estimated 4.5 billion dollars.
Politically, Geffen, who is gay, is a liberal Democrat who uses his financial fortune to support his favorite political candidates. He helped raise millions of dollars for the campaigns of Bill and Hillary Clinton in the 1990s and early 2000s. In February, 2007, though, Geffen started a campaign dispute between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama with his support of Obama and his critical comments about the Clintons. See Clinton/Obama Spat over Donors.
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