Michael Dammann Eisner was the chief executive officer of The Walt Disney Company from 1984 until 2005.
Eisner was born in Mount Kisco, New York, the son of Jewish parents Margaret and Lester Eisner, Jr. His great-grandfather, Sigmund Eisner, was one of the first uniform suppliers to the Boy Scouts of America. He was raised on Park Avenue in Manhattan. He 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. He 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.
After two brief stints at NBC and CBS, Barry Diller at ABC hired Eisner as Assistant to the National Programming Director. 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 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 protege, Eisner expected to assume Diller's position as studio chief. When he was passed over for the job, though, he left to look for work elsewhere and lobbied for the position of CEO of The Walt Disney Company.