Richard Branson

Richard Branson Headshot

Businessman • Investor • Entrepreneur

Birth Date: July 18, 1950

Age: 73 years old

Birth Place: Blackheath, London, England, UK

Sir Richard Branson became one of the richest men in the world while maintaining a public persona as a cheerful daredevil, attempting to break world records with sailboat and hot-air balloon crossings.

Richard Charles Nicholas Branson was born in 1950, the son of a barrister and a child welfare advocate. In the late 1960s, he founded a youth-themed magazine called The Student, and then started a mail-order discount record retail business called Virgin Records, which advertised for free in his magazine's pages.

The first Virgin Records shop opened in 1970 in London's Oxford Street, specializing in obscure and imported records catering to the progressive rock niche; Branson and business partner Simon Draper started the label Virgin Records in 1972 with a similar musical bent. But with the advent of punk in 1976, Virgin Records successfully rebranded itself as one of the key British punk and post-punk labels, starting with Branson's signing of the Sex Pistols after the band's loutish behavior got them kicked off two more established labels.

The increasingly mainstream success of Virgin Records through the 1980s allowed Branson -- who admitted to not being particularly into music -- to indulge his own interests. Along with his high-profile (and sometimes life-threatening) world-record attempts and daredevil feats, he founded Virgin Atlantic Airlines in 1984, positioning it as the younger, hipper and more stylish alternative to the established airlines.

That image became the default for Virgin's new ventures, including Virgin Megastores (a multimedia revamp of the original record stores, felled by the decline of music retailers in the 2000s), Virgin Cola (an oddball attempt to take on the major soft drink brands, launched in 1994) and the cellphone provider Virgin Mobile.

In 2012, that company drafted Branson to star in its television advertisements, in which he played an exaggeratedly wolfish version of himself. The ads were able to play off of Branson's public persona, particularly in the U.K., as a bearded, middle-aged playboy with expensive hobbies such as ballooning, sailboats and, increasingly, suborbital space tourism through his new venture Virgin Galactic.

Branson's image was familiar enough that in 1999, "The Simpsons" (Fox 1989- ) spoofed him in the episode "Monty Can't Buy Me Love" with the character of beloved tycoon Arthur Fortune, the Fortune Megastores owner who spends his spare time sledding down Mt. Everest.

Credits

My Playlist with Sir Richard Branson

Guest
Show
2024

Eating Our Way to Extinction

Self
Show
2023

Hotels byDesign

Guest
Show
2023

BransonStream

Self
Docuseries
2022
83%

Amol Rajan Interviews

Guest
Show
2022

Billion Dollar Space Race: Bezos vs Musk vs Branson

Actor
Show
2021

Eating Our Way to Extinction

Executive Producer
Movie
2021

Eating Our Way to Extinction

Self
Movie
2021

Dreamer

Actor
Movie
2020

Send It

Self
Movie
2020

Discovery Live: Into the Blue Hole

Self
Show
2018

To Dine For With Kate Sullivan

Guest
Show
2018

Chapter One - The Kiteboard Legacy Begin

Actor
Show
2018

Chapter One: The Kiteboard Legacy Begins

Self
Show
2018

The Russell Howard Hour

Self
Show
2017

The 21st Century Race for Space

Guest
Show
2017

Visioneer -- The Peter Diamandis Story

Actor
Show
2017

Live with Kelly and Ryan

Guest
Talk
2017

Don Letts: Dread Meets Punk Rockers

Self
Show
2017

Matthews

Self
Movie
2017

The Jump

Actor
Movie
2017

23.5 Degrees

Guest
Show
2016

Don't Look Down

Self
Movie
2016

The Late Show With Stephen ColbertStream

Guest
Talk
2015

Chloe & Theo

Executive Producer
Movie
2015

Good Morning Britain

Guest
Show
2014

The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy FallonStream

Guest
Talk
2014

We Are Many

Self
Movie
2014

The Culture High

Actor
Movie
2014

Mission: Save the ocean

Host
Show
2013

Stephen Hawking: A Brief History of Mine

Self
Show
2013

The Railway: Keeping Britain on Track

Actor
Show
2013

When Albums Ruled the World

Self
Show
2013

Hawking

Actor
Movie
2013

Pandora's Promise

Executive Producer
Movie
2013

Access Middle East

Guest
Show
2012

Finding Your RootsStream

Guest
Reality
2012

TEDTalks Shows

Actor
Show
2012

The Secret Policeman's Ball

Actor
Show
2012

CBS This Morning

Guest
Show
2012

Piers Morgan Tonight

Guest
Show
2011

George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight

Guest
Show
2010

Lorraine

Guest
Show
2010

In Depth With Graham Bensinger

Guest
Show
2010

All You Need Is Love

Self
Show
2010

Jambo Jumbo

Actor
Movie
2010

Jambo Jumbo

Executive Producer
Movie
2010

A Man's Story

Actor
Movie
2010

Shark TankStream

Judge
Reality
2009

The Project

Guest
Show
2009

Late Night With Jimmy Fallon

Guest
Talk
2009

Piers Morgan's Life Stories

Guest Star
Show
2009

Growing Bolder

Guest
Show
2008

The One Show

Guest
Show
2006

etalk

Guest
Show
2006

The Colbert Report

Guest
Talk
2005

Entertainment Tonight Canada

Guest
Show
2005

The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson

Guest
Talk
2005

The Rebel Billionaire: Branson's Quest for the Best

Executive Producer
Show
2004

Around the World in 80 DaysStream

Actor
Balloon Man
Movie
2004
31%

Jimmy Kimmel Live!Stream

Guest
Talk
2003

The Early Show

Guest
Show
1999

The Daily Show With Jon StewartStream

Guest
Talk
1999

The View

Guest
Talk
1997

FriendsStream

Guest Star
The Vendor
Series
1994
78%

Late Show With David Letterman

Guest
Talk
1993

The SimpsonsStream

Guest Voice
Himself
Series
1989
85%

BaywatchStream

Self
Series
1989

This Morning

Guest
Show
1988

The Oprah Winfrey ShowStream

Guest
Talk
1986

Spitting Image

Actor
Show
1984

Electric DreamsStream

Executive Producer
Movie
1984
47%

The Space Movie

Producer
Movie
1980

Good Morning America

Guest
News
1975

Canada AM

Guest
Show
1972

BonanzaStream

Guest Star
Series
1959

Today

Guest
News
1952