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Steven Spielberg is an American movie producer and director. Throughout his 40 year career in the film industry, he has become one of the most successful filmmakers in history.
Steven Allan Spielberg was born on December 18, 1946 in Cincinnati, Ohio to parents Arnold and Leah Spielberg. His family moved several times and eventually settled in Phoenix, Arizona.
He developed a love for photography as a child, earning a merit badge for photography a Boy Scout after making a short 8 mm western, entitles The Last Gunfight. At thirteen, he would make a prize winning war film, Escape to Nowhere. During his teen years, he would make 15 more amateur films. At 16, Spielberg would direct the film Firelight, which he would later adapt to make the blockbuster Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
He would go on to attend college at California State University, Long Beach. While attending school, he interned at Universal Studios. During this time, he would direct the short film Amblin. The Universal Studios Vice President was so impressed by Spielberg’s work on the film, that he offered him a seven year directing contract. This would make Spielberg the youngest director to ever ink a long-term deal with in Hollywood.
Spielberg’s early work in the film industry was in television. He directed episodes of television shows such as Marcus Welby, M.D., The Name of the Game, Night Gallery, and Columbo. After proving himself in television, Universal signed him for four films. His debut film was the crime drama The Sugarland Express.
Spielberg had his first big hit with the 1975 thriller Jaws, about a man eating great white shark. The film would go on to earn $470 million and win three Academy Awards. Bolstered by his early success, he directed Close Encounters of the Third Kind in 1977. The film would earn Spielberg his first Academy Award for Best Director.
The 1980’s saw Spielberg become a household name. He would make film classics such as Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, The Goonies, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, The Color Purple.
The 1993 Spielberg would direct Jurassic Park. The sci-fi dinosaur tale would turn out to be a smash hit thanks to its innovative special effects. Jurassic Park would nearly $1 billion dollars. Also in 1993, he released Schindler’s List, a holocaust drama which would win Best Picture from the Academy.
His 1998 war film, Saving Private Ryan would gross nearly $500 million and earn Spielberg another Academy award for Best Director. The film was praised for its gritty hyper-realistic portrayal of combat. Spielberg and Saving Private Ryan actor Tom Hanks would later make two HBO mini-series about the Second World War.
The 2000’s saw Spielberg make hits like Minority Report, War of the Words, Munich, War Horse, and Lincoln. Lincoln in particular won praise, as it earned 12 Academy Award Nominations. In 2015 he directed the cold war thriller, Bridge of Spies, which would earn 6 Academy nominations of its own. He has since released BFG, The Post, and sci-fi novel adaption, Ready Player One.
Spielberg’s camera work and direction has earned praise throughout his career. His low angle tracking shots have become a Spielberg hallmark.
The most common theme in his films is a stressed parent-child relationship. This can be seen in films such as Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, The Color Purple, Munich, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, and Catch Me If You Can. He explains this as a product of the distant relationship he had with his father a child.
In 1995 Spielberg was awarded the AFI Life Achievement Award.
He was awarded the Federal Cross of Merit in 1998 by Germany, for his work in Schindler’s List. In 2001, Queen Elizabeth II appointed Spielberg honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire. France admitted him as knight of the Légion d'honneur in 2004.
He holds honorary degrees from Brown University, Boston University, and Harvard University. In a2015 White House Ceremony, President Barack Obama awarded Spielberg with Presidential Medal of Freedom.
His work has been praised by Hollywood legends Werner Herzog, Stanley Kubrick, Sidney Lumet and Martin Scorsese.
Many filmmakers have been influenced by Spielberg. J. J. Abrams, Paul Thomas Anderson, James Cameron, Guillermo del Toro, Peter Jackson, and Quentin Tarantino all credit Spielberg with influence on their films.
Personal Life and Family
Spielberg married longtime friend and actress Amy Irving in 1985, though the relationship wouldn’t last. In 1991, he would marry actress Kate Capshaw. They are still married and have homes in California, New York, and Florida. Spielberg has seven children though his marriages, Jessica Capshaw, Max Samuel Spielberg, Theo Spielberg, Sasha Rebecca Spielberg, Sawyer Avery Spielberg, Mikaela George, Destry Allyn Spielberg.
It is estimated that Spielberg’s net worth is $3.7 billion.
In 1994 Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen founded DreamWorks Pictures which has gone on to create 80 theatrical films. In 2005, they sold DreamWorks to Viacom.
“Steven Spielberg.” Biography.com, A&E Networks Television, 21 Mar. 2018, www.biography.com/people/steven-spielberg-9490621.
“Steven Spielberg.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 8 Apr. 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steven_Spielberg.
Barson, Michael. “Steven Spielberg.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 29 Mar. 2018, www.britannica.com/biography/Steven-Spielberg.
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