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David Geffen is an ambitious, energetic music and movie executive who established a vast Hollywood-based empire, featuring Geffen Records and DreamWorks.
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Born in New York City on February 21, 1943, David Geffen is a record and film producer who, with Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg, started DreamWorks. Geffen has started numerous other companies, such as Geffen Records, DGC and the Geffen Film Company. He also helped bankroll such successful productions as Dreamgirls, Little Shop of Horrors and the hugely profitable Cats.
Born on February 21, 1943, in Brooklyn, New York, David Geffen is widely regarded as the wealthiest man in the American film industry. A self-styled "boy from Brooklyn" who became a millionaire by the age of 25, the ambitious, energetic music and movie executive established a vast Hollywood-based empire. With Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg, he cofounded Dreamworks, ensuring that he will continue to shape the world entertainment landscape into the next century.
His parents were Soviet Jews who had emigrated to Brooklyn's thriving Russian community. Geffen's father, Abraham, was a pattern maker. His mother, Batya, made and sold women's undergarments out of a tiny shop. Geffen claims to have learned the basic principles of entrepreneurial skills at his mother's knee.
An avid reader, Geffen was impelled toward an entertainment career by Hollywood Rajah, the life story of movie mogul Louis B. Mayer. "I looked at these moguls and the world they created and figured it would be a fun way to make a living," he told Forbes magazine. Geffen took up music and drama in high school, where he also developed a reputation for his gregarious personality that would benefit him later in life. By 1998, his personal worth was valued at over $1 billion. Geffen, who is single and openly gay, lives out of a New York City apartment and a beach house in Malibu, California. He collects fine art, but his major passion remains his work. He reportedly spends the majority of his day on the telephone, making deals and listening to creative pitches.
Upon graduating from high school in 1960, Geffen headed west, not to California, but to the University of Texas at Austin. He lasted only one semester until he flunked out with poor grades. He worked at a series of odd jobs in New York City before landing a position as an usher at the CBS-TV studio. He loved the job. "I got to watch them rehearse TV shows with people like Judy Garland and Red Skelton," he said in a Forbes article, "and I was thinking, 'Well, I'm not talented, what can I do?'" He worked his way up to a receptionist position on the CBS series The Reporters, but was fired after suggesting some script improvements to a producer. When the show's casting director jokingly remarked that Geffen might make a good agent, Geffen followed up on the idea. Looking through the Yellow Pages, he contacted the William Morris Talent Agency—the one with the biggest ad. He began with a job in the mailroom there in 1964, earning $55 a week sorting letters, but quickly aspired to greater things. "I'm delivering the mail to people's offices," he told The New Yorker "and I hear them on the phone, and I think, I can do that.
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