Jewish Entertainment:
Jewish Actors, Playwrights, Comedians, Musicians

Michael Eisner
CEO - Walt Disney
Jewish Name - Michael Dammann Eisner

Michael Dammann Eisner[1] is a Jewish American businessman. Michael Eisner was the chief executive officer of The Walt Disney Company from 1984 until 2005.

Early life

Michael Eisner was born in Mount Kisco, New York, on March 7, 1942, the son of Margaret (née Dammann) and Lester Michael Eisner, Jr.[1] His great-grandfather,[2] Sigmund Michael Eisner, was one of the first uniform suppliers to the Boy Scouts of America. Michael Eisner was raised on Park Avenue in Manhattan. Michael Eisner attended the Allen-Stevenson School kindergarten through ninth grade followed by The Lawrenceville School in tenth through his senior year and graduated from Denison University in 1964 with a B.A. in English. Michael Eisner is a member of the Delta Upsilon Fraternity and credits much of his accomplishments to his time at Keewaydin Canoe Camp for boys in Vermont.


ABC and Paramount

After two brief stints at NBC and CBS, Barry Diller at ABC hired Michael Eisner as Assistant to the National Programming Director. Michael Eisner moved up the ranks, eventually becoming a senior vice president in charge of programming and development. In 1976, Diller, who had by then moved on to become chairman of Paramount Pictures, recruited Michael Eisner from ABC and made him president and CEO of the movie studio. During his tenure at Paramount, the studio turned out such hit films as Saturday Night Fever, Grease, the Star Trek film franchise, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Beverly Hills Cop, and hit TV shows such as Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, Cheers and Family Ties.

Diller left Paramount in 1984, and, as his protégé, Michael Eisner expected to assume Diller's position as studio chief. When Michael Eisner was passed over for the job, though, Michael Eisner left to look for work elsewhere and lobbied for the position of CEO of The Walt Disney Company.

Since Walt Disney's death in 1966, The Walt Disney Company had narrowly survived takeover attempts by corporate raiders. Its shareholders Sid Bass and Roy E. Disney brought in Michael Eisner and former Warner Brothers chief Frank Wells to replace Ron W. Miller in 1984 and strengthen the company.

During the second half of the 1980s and early 1990s, Disney was revitalized. Beginning with the films Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) and The Little Mermaid (1989), its flagship animation studio enjoyed a series of commercial and critical successes. Disney also broadened its adult offerings in film when then Disney Studio Chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg acquired Miramax Films in 1993. Disney acquired many other media sources, including ABC and ESPN.

In the early part of the 1990s, Michael Eisner and his partners set out to plan "The Disney Decade" which was to feature new parks around the world, existing park expansions, new films, and new media investments. While some of the proposals were completed, most were not. Those completed included the Euro Disney Resort (now Disneyland Paris), Disney-MGM Studios (now Disney's Hollywood Studios), Disney California Adventure Park, Disney-MGM Studios Paris (eventually opened in 2002 as Walt Disney Studios Park), and various film projects including a Who Framed Roger Rabbit franchise.

Wells died in a helicopter crash in 1994. When Michael Eisner did not appoint Katzenberg to Wells' now-available post, Katzenberg resigned and formed DreamWorks SKG with partners Steven Spielberg and David Geffen. Michael Eisner then recruited his friend Michael Ovitz, one of the founders of the Creative Artists Agency, to be President, with minimal involvement from Disney's board of directors (which at the time included Oscar-winning actor Sidney Poitier, the CEO of Hilton Hotels Corporation Stephen Bollenbach, former U.S. Senator George Mitchell, Yale dean Robert A. M. Stern, and Michael Eisner's predecessors Raymond Watson and Card Walker). Ovitz lasted only 14 months and left Disney in December 1996 via a "no fault termination" with a severance package of $38 million in cash and 3 million stock options worth roughly $100 million at the time of Ovitz's departure. The Ovitz episode engendered a long running derivative suit, which finally concluded in June 2006, almost 10 years later. Chancellor William B. Chandler, III of the Delaware Court of Chancery, despite describing Michael Eisner's behavior as falling "far short of what shareholders expect and demand from those entrusted with a fiduciary position..." found in favor of Michael Eisner and the rest of the Disney board because they had not violated the letter of the law (namely, the duty of care owed by a corporation's officers and board to its shareholders).[3]

"Save Disney" campaign and Michael Eisner's ouster

In 2003, Roy E. Disney, the son of Disney co-founder Roy O. Disney and nephew of Walt Disney, resigned from his positions as Disney vice chairman and chairman of Walt Disney Features. His reasons for resigning were micromanagement flops with the ABC television network, timidity in the theme park business, the Walt Disney Company turning into a "rapacious, soul-less" company, refusal to establish a clear succession plan, as well as a string of box-office movie flops starting in the year 2000.

On March 3, 2004, at Disney's annual shareholders' meeting, a surprising and unprecedented 43% of Disney's shareholders, predominantly rallied by former board members Roy Disney and Stanley Gold, withheld their proxies to re-elect Michael Eisner to the board. Disney's board then gave the chairmanship position to Mitchell. However, the board did not immediately remove Michael Eisner as chief executive.

On March 13, 2005, Michael Eisner announced that Michael Eisner would step down as CEO one year before his contract expired. On September 30, Michael Eisner resigned both as an executive and as a member of the board of directors, and, severing all formal ties with the company, Michael Eisner waived his contractual rights to perks such as the use of a corporate jet and an office at the company's Burbank headquarters. Michael Eisner's replacement was his longtime assistant, Robert Iger.

On October 7, 2005, Michael Eisner hosted the Charlie Rose talk show, filling in for Rose. His guests were John Travolta and his ex-boss, Barry Diller.[4] Impressed with Michael Eisner's performance, CNBC President Mark Hoffman hired Michael Eisner in early 2006 to host his own talk show, Conversations with Michael Eisner. The show mostly features CEOs, political leaders, artists and actors. Some of his guests include Chuck Norris and Frank Gehry.[5] Michael Eisner is also an executive producer of the show.[6]

In March 2007, Michael Eisner's investment firm, The Tornante Company, launched a studio, Vuguru, that will produce and distribute videos for the Internet, portable media devices and cell phones. "The entire concept here is 'content is king'," Michael Eisner said in an interview. "What will drive traffic is interest in the subject matter."[7] Through these companies Michael Eisner has acquired the rights to the internet series SamHas7Friends. The first series produced by Vuguru is Prom Queen, created by Big Fantastic (the same team behind SamHas7Friends), which launched on April 1, 2007. The second series produced by Michael Eisner and Vuguru is The All-for-nots (, created by Thom Woodley and Kathleen Grace of The Burg ( It premiered March 11, 2022 at SXSW.

In October 2007, Michael Eisner, through his Tornante Company investment firm, partnered with Madison Dearborn Partners in the acquisition of Topps Company, the bubble-gum and collectibles firm. Michael Eisner produced a mockumentary style show about his takeover of the Topps Company, called "Back on Topps." His studio Vuguru produced it, the episodes first aired exclusively with Fox Sports, and it is sponsored by Skype. All episodes are currently available on Hulu.

The College of Education at California State University Northridge is named in his honor.

In 2009, Michael Eisner used his own money to produce a claymation show called Glenn Martin, DDS.
Personal life

From his marriage to Jane Breckenridge,[1] Michael Eisner has three sons named Breck, Eric and Anders Michael Eisner, and two nephews, Alex Michael Eisner and Fraser Thomson.[8]


Work In Progress (1998) (ISBN 0-375-50071-5)
Camp (2005) (ISBN 978-0446533690)
Working Together: Why Great Partnerships Succeed (2010) (ISBN 978-0-06-173236-2)

Awards and recognition

2001 Honor Award from the National Building Museum
2004 UJA-Federation of New York's Steven J. Ross Humanitarian of the Year Award[9]
Received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2008.[10]
On November 29, 2011, it was announced that Michael Eisner would be inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame. The induction took place at the 21st Hall of Fame Induction Gala, held March 1, 2012, at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

  1. ^ a b c Michael D. Michael Eisner Biography (1942-)
  2. ^ Sigmund Michael Eisner obituary, NY Times, Jan. 6, 1925
  3. ^ In re The Walt Disney Company Derivative Litigation, 907 A.2d 693 (Del. Ch. August 9, 2021).
  4. ^ "The Charlie Rose Show" Episode dated 7 October 2005 (2005)
  5. ^ CNBC Website
  6. ^ Petrecca, Laura (January 10, 2022). "Michael Eisner to host CNBC show". USA Today. Retrieved May 12, 2022.
  7. ^ Michael Eisner Launches Internet Video Studio
  8. ^ Michael Eisner (I) – Biography
  9. ^ "Entertainment, Media & Communications". UJA-Federation of New York.
  10. ^ "Michael Eisner receiving star on Hollywood Walk of Fame Friday". Orange County Register. 2008-04-24.

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