Daniel Robert (Danny) Elfman was born on May 29, 1953 in Los Angeles, California. Elfman is the son of Blossom Elfman, a writer and a teacher, and Milton Elfman, a teacher who was in the Air Force. His father had also been a jazz trumpet player before Danny and his brother were born. Danny Elfman’s brother, Richard Elfman, is three year older and works as a director. He is the Uncle in-law to actress Jenna Elfman.
Danny Elfman met actress Bridget Fonda while working on 1998 film A Simple Plan. Elfman and Fonda married on November 29, 2003. They had Oliver Elfman in January of 2005. Elfman also has two daughters Lola born in 1979 (adopted) and Mali born in 1984.
Danny Elfman dropped out of University High School LA. He jokingly refers to himself as a graduate with honors, “American school of Hard Knocks” with post-graduate studies at “Nose to the Grindstone University.” When he was eighteen he moved with his older brother Richard to France. Then he joined The Grand Magic Circus with his brother doing a violin and percussion number. Elfman can play instruments like the piano, guitar, violin, trombone, and the drums. Next he traveled to Africa, absorbing new musical styles.
Richard Elfman, his wife, and childhood friends Glen Cunningham and Matthew Bright created the musical-theatrical troupe called The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo. When Danny Elfman came back from Africa they made him the musical director. Richard left Mystic Knights in 1976 to do film and theater projects. Once he left Danny took over as play director and lead singer. In 1979 Elfman changed the musical-theatrical troupe into a rock band and shortened the name in to Oingo Boingo. Oingo Boingo lasted from 1979 to 1995.
Danny Elfman hears music in everyday things (like a car driving by). Elfman likes it when you don’t recognize his music because he wants all of music to be different. Elfman first score was for the movie The Forbidden Zone made by his brother Richard in 1980. He has done 63 movies and won 33 awards. Danny Elfman says that he likes getting awards but worries that they distract from artistry. Elfman is a member of the Academy of Arts and Sciences and supports film preservation.
Pee Wee’s Big Adventure was Danny Elfman’s first full orchestra film it was also the start of the partnership of Elfman and director Tim Burton. Elfman and Burton don’t have to talk about the music a lot because they agree on the music. Elfman worked on every Burton movie except for Ed Wood and Sweeny Todd. Danny Elfman keeps making music that’s powerful, clever, sad, and just plain beautiful.