Inside Hollywood’s Billionaire Donor Class and David Geffen’s $150 Million Gift to Yale

”Not all Hollywood donors have his kind of wealth…(they) are not Geffen wealthy. They’re not Spielberg wealthy,“ one philanthropy expert says

Some Hollywood stars make a lot of money, like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson who made $87.5 million in 2020. But only a handful of entertainment industry figures rank as billionaires, able like David Geffen to donate $150 million to Yale Drama School so it could go tuition-free in perpetuity.

In fact, industry watchers say that most well-known performers and celebrities leverage their fame and influence to get other people to donate money, rather than giving huge amounts from their own bank accounts. That leaves the biggest personal gifts to those who have built their fortunes on the business side.

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Diane Haithman

Diane Haithman

Senior Entertainment Business Reporter • • @dhaithman Diane came to TheWrap from a position as Staff Reporter at The Los Angeles Business Journal, covering Entertainment/Media, Philanthropy and Style. Diane was a Los Angeles Times Staff Writer for two decades, covering arts, culture and the TV industry. Her novel Dark Lady of Hollywood was published to critical acclaim by Harvard Square Editions in 2014. She serves on the adjunct faculty of Emerson College Los Angeles and has taught feature writing at USC. Diane is co-author of the nonfiction book The Elder Wisdom Circle Guide for a Meaningful Life (Penguin/Plume 2007) and is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists-Los Angeles Chapter.