Danny Elfman is an American composer, singer, songwriter, and actor who has a net worth of $50 million. Elfman is known as the lead singer and songwriter for the rock band Oingo Boingo (1979-1995) and for scoring music for numerous television shows and films. He has written scores for more than 100 feature films to date, and he has scored 16 films that were directed by Tim Burton, including “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure” (1985), “Batman” (1989), “Edward Scissorhands” (1990), and “Big Fish” (2003). Danny has also written scores or theme music for numerous television shows, most notably “The Simpsons” (1989) and “Desperate Housewives” (2004). Elfman has appeared in the films “I Never Promised You a Rose Garden” (1977), “Forbidden Zone” (1980), “Back to School” (1986), and “The Gift” (2000), and he has lent his voice to the Tim Burton films “The Nightmare Before Christmas” (1993), “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” (2005), and “Corpse Bride” (2005). He also served as an associate producer on “The Nightmare Before Christmas.”
“The Simpsons” Royalties
Elfman composed the theme song to “The Simpsons” in 1998. You can hear his voice at the very beginning sing “The Simpsonnnnss” over three notes. That’s an important fact because singing the notes allows Danny to earn performance royalties forever (as long as “The Simpsons” airs, which is likely forever). In interviews Danny has intimated that those three notes “made him rich,” earning him far more than he earned to compose the actual tune.
Danny Elfman was born Daniel Robert Elfman on May 29, 1953, in Los Angeles, California. He grew up in a Jewish household with mother Blossom (a teacher and writer), father Milton (a teacher and Air Force veteran), and brother Richard, who is an actor, journalist, and musician. During his youth, Elfman enjoyed spending time at the local cinema in Baldwin Hills, where he watched horror, science-fiction, and fantasy movies and was introduced to the scores of composers Franz Waxman and Bernard Herrmann. In elementary school, Danny was rejected from the school orchestra for “having no propensity for music,” but in high school, he became friends with classmates who were interested in music and turned him on to jazz and Stravinsky.
Elfman graduated early and decided to travel around the world. He followed his brother Richard to France and played violin with the musical theater group Le Grand Magic Circus, then he spent 10 months traveling through Africa, where he contracted malaria three times. When he returned to L.A., “pretty sick and ready to come home,” Richard had formed a street troupe called The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo, and he informed Danny on his second day home, “You’re the musical director. Now, I know you’ve got hepatitis so you probably won’t be active for a few weeks. But you can start listening and soaking it up!” Elfman attended classes in the Indonesian music department at CalArts and performed there for a few years, but he never officially enrolled at the university.
The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo performed in nightclubs and on the streets of L.A. until the late 1970s when Richard left to pursue a career as a filmmaker. Richard made a film, “Forbidden Zone,” that was based on the group’s stage performances, and Danny composed the movie’s songs as well as the score. After Richard left the group, Danny took over, and The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo became a new wave band called Oingo Boingo. The group released eight studio albums between 1981 and 1994, and their single “Weird Science,” which was on the 1985 album “Dead Man’s Party,” was the theme song for the film and TV series of the same name. Oingo Boingo fans Tim Burton and Paul Reubens enlisted Danny to write the score for the 1985 film “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure,” and Elfman then scored the films “Back to School” (1986), “Wisdom” (1986), “Summer School” (1987), “Beetlejuice” (1988), “Midnight Run” (1988), “Big Top Pee-wee” (1988), “Hot to Trot” (1988), and “Scrooged” (1988). He won a Grammy for scoring 1989’s “Batman,” and he also scored 1992’s “Batman Returns.”
Danny scored 25 films throughout the ’90s, beginning with 1990’s “Nightbreed,” “Dick Tracy,” “Darkman,” and “Edward Scissorhands” and ending with 1999’s “Instinct,” “Anywhere but Here,” and “Sleepy Hollow.” He also wrote the score and 10 songs for 1993’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas” and provided Jack Skellington’s singing voice. Elfman scored 1997’s “Men in Black,” followed by 2002’s “Men in Black II,” 2012’s “Men in Black 3,” and 2019’s “Men in Black: International,” and he earned a Grammy nomination for scoring the first film in the series. In the first decade of the 2000s, he received Grammy nominations for scoring 2001’s “Planet of the Apes,” 2002’s “Spider-Man,” 2003’s “Big Fish,” 2005’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” and 2008’s “Milk,” and he also scored “Chicago” (2002), “Hulk” (2003), “Charlotte’s Web” (2006), “Hellboy II: The Golden Army” (2008), and “Terminator Salvation” (2009). Elfman scored 2010’s “Alice in Wonderland,” 2012’s “Dark Shadows,” “Frankenweenie,” and “Silver Linings Playbook,” and 2013’s “Oz the Great and Powerful,” “Epic,” and “American Hustle.” He composed the score for all three films in the “Fifty Shades of Grey” series (2015-2019), and around this time, he also scored “Avengers: Age of Ultron” (2015), “Goosebumps” (2015), “Alice Through the Looking Glass” (2016), “The Girl on the Train” (2016), “Justice League” (2017), “The Grinch” (2018), “Dumbo” (2019), “Dolittle” (2020), and “The Woman in the Window” (2021).
Danny has written theme music and scored episodes of numerous television projects, starting with a Tim Burton-directed episode of “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” in 1985. He scored four 1986 episodes of “Pee-wee’s Playhouse,” and he wrote the theme music for “Sledge Hammer!” (1986), “Tales from the Crypt” (1989), and “Beetlejuice: The Animated Series” (1989). In 1989, Elfman wrote the theme for “The Simpsons,” which earned him a Primetime Emmy nomination, and he won an Emmy in 2005 for writing the “Desperate Housewives” theme. In the ’90s, he composed the themes for “The Flash” (1990), “Family Dog” (1993), “Perversions of Science” (1997), and “Dilbert” (1999) as well as the main title and end credits for “Batman: The Animated Series” (1992). Danny also composed the theme for the 2005 series “Point Pleasant,” and he scored the 2017 miniseries “When We Rise” with Chris Bacon. Many of his compositions have been performed onstage, such as “Serenada Schizophrana” at Carnegie Hall (2005) and “Danny Elfman’s Music from the Films of Tim Burton” at the Royal Albert Hall (2013). Elfman released the single “Happy” in 2020, followed by five more, “Love In The Time of COVID,” “Sorry,” “True,” “Kick Me,” and “Insects,” in early 2021, then he released the album “Big Mess” on June 11, 2021.
During his teenage years, Danny dated future Sonic Youth vocalist/guitarist/bassist Kim Gordon, and he later married Geri Eisenmenger and had two daughters, Lola (born in 1979) and Mali (born in 1984), with her. After Elfman and Eisenmenger divorced, he married actress Bridget Fonda on November 29, 2003, and they welcomed son Oliver on January 21, 2005. Danny’s nephew is actor Bodhi Elfman, the husband of “Dharma & Greg” star Jenna Elfman. Danny has said that he became an atheist at age 11 or 12, and in a 2015 interview, he referred to himself as a “cynic-ologist.” He supported Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election, and he scored a video about Joe Biden that played at the 2020 Democratic National Convention just before Biden accepted the presidential nomination. Elfman’s hearing was significantly damaged during his years as a member of Oingo Boingo, and it was a factor in his departure from the band. In 2007, Danny received an honorary doctorate from the North Carolina School of the Arts.
Awards and Nominations
Elfman has been nominated for four Academy Awards: Best Music, Original Dramatic Score for “Good Will Hunting,” Best Music, Original Musical or Comedy Score for “Men in Black,” Best Music, Original Score for “Big Fish,” and Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score for “Milk.” He has received three Primetime Emmy nominations, winning Outstanding Main Title Theme Music for “Desperate Housewives” and Outstanding Music Direction for the “Live from Lincoln Center” episode “Danny Elfman’s Music from the Films of Tim Burton.” The Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films has nominated Danny for 15 Saturn Awards, and he won Best Music for “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” “Mars Attacks!,” “Men in Black,” “Sleepy Hollow,” “Spider-Man,” and “Frankenweenie.” He has won more than 40 BMI Film Music Awards, including the Richard Kirk Career Achievement Award (2002), and he has earned four 20/20 Awards and seven International Film Music Critics Awards.
Elfman has received 13 Grammy nominations, winning Best Instrumental Composition for “Batman Theme,” and he was inducted into the Online Film & Television Association Film Hall of Fame in 1999. He has won three “Fangoria” Chainsaw Awards, Best Soundtrack for “Army of Darkness” and Best Score for “The Frighteners” and “Sleepy Hollow.” Danny received a Special Career Award at the 2000 Fantasporto festival, and in 2008, the Hollywood Film Awards named him Composer of the Year. He has also won awards from the GoldSpirit Awards (Best Horror Theme for “Corpse Bride”), International Cinephile Society Awards (Best Original Score for “Milk”), Las Vegas Film Critics Society Awards (Best Score for “A Simple Plan”), Palm Springs International Film Festival (Frederick Loewe Award for Film Composing), Phoenix Film Critics Society Awards (Best Original Score for “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”), and Satellite Awards (Best Original Score for “Sleepy Hollow”).
According to public records, Danny paid $2.13 million for a home in the Hancock Park neighborhood of Los Angeles in 2000. Danny and Bridget spent three years and roughly $3 million renovating the home, which dates back to the 1920s, and in 2015, they acquired the house next door for $3.6 million. In October 2020, Elfman and Fonda put the combined estate on the market for $14.6 million. If sold separately, the larger original home was listed for $8.8 million, and the smaller home was listed for $5.8 million. Ultimately the homes were sold separately, the larger one for the $8.8 million asking price and the smaller one at a discount for $4.2 million. In 2021, over two transactions separated by several months, Danny and Bridget plunked down a combined $8 million for two side-by-side homes in Encino, California. The combined property spans 2.2 acres. They also own a ranch in Santa Barbara, which Danny acquired in the mid-1990s.
|Net Worth:||$50 Million|
|Date of Birth:||May 29, 1953 (68 years old)|
|Height:||5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)|
|Profession:||Singer-songwriter, Record producer, Actor, Film Score Composer, Singer, Voice Actor, Composer, Film Producer|
|Nationality:||United States of America|