By Ariel Scheib
Michael Eisner was born on March 7, 1942, in Mt. Kisco, New York. In 1964, he graduated from Denison University with a B.A. in English. Eisner enjoyed brief careers at NBC and CBS, and then in 1966, he joined the staff at ABC. Under Eisner’s leadership, ABC prime-time television soared to first place. In 1976, Barry Diller made Eisner president of Paramount Pictures; again Eisner led Paramount Pictures to first place among Hollywood studios.
In 1984, Eisner left Paramount to become the CEO of The Walt Disney Company. By the end of the 1980s and into the 1990s, Disney quickly began its “golden age” under the direction of Eisner. It was during this time that Disney also acquired other media sources, including ESPN. Nevertheless, the Disney franchise began to hit some failures in production and investments, creating much friction within the company. On March 3, 2004, the Disney shareholders voted to strip Eisner of his chairmanship; however, the board did not remove Eisner as the chief executive. Finally on March 13, 2005, Eisner announced that he would step down as CEO. On September 30, Eisner resigned from Disney. Although Eisner remains the second largest stockholder in the Disney Company, new CEO Robert Iger, appears to be attempting to reduce his influence over the franchise. On January 23, 2006, the board of The Walt Disney Company voted to buy Pixar Animation Studios.
On October 7, 2005, Eisner hosted The Charlie Rose Show. On January 10, 2006, CNBC gave Eisner his own hour-long, prime-time interview show, Conversations with Michael Eisner. Eisner still remains the host of the annual “The Wonderful World of Disney” on ABC.
Sources: “Michael Eisner (1942- ).” American Jewish Historical Society, American Jewish Desk Reference, (NY: Random House, 1999) pg. 220.