Allan Spielberg (born December 18, 1946) is
an American film director, screenwriter, producer, video
game designer, and studio entrepreneur. In a
career of more than four decades, Spielberg's films have
covered many themes and genres. Spielberg's early science-fiction
and adventure films were seen as archetypes of modern Hollywood
blockbuster filmmaking. In later years, his films began
addressing such issues as the Holocaust, slavery, war and
terrorism. He is considered one of the most popular and
influential filmmakers in the history of cinema. He is also
one of the co-founders of DreamWorks movie studio.
won the Academy Award for Best Director for Schindler's
List (1993) and Saving
Private Ryan (1998). Three of Spielberg's films
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
(1982), and Jurassic Park
(1993)achieved box office records, each becoming
the highest-grossing film made at the time. To date, the
unadjusted gross of all Spielberg-directed films exceeds
$8.5 billion worldwide. Forbes puts Spielberg's wealth
at $3.0 billion.
was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, to a Jewish family. His
mother, Leah Adler (née Posner), was a restaurateur
and concert pianist, and his father, Arnold Spielberg,
was an electrical engineer involved in the development
of computers. He spent his childhood in Haddon Township,
New Jersey, where he saw one of his first films in a theater,
as well as in Scottsdale, Arizona. Throughout his early
teens, Spielberg made amateur 8 mm "adventure"
films with his friends, the first of which he shot at
the Pinnacle Peak Patio restaurant in Scottsdale. He charged
admission (25 cents) to his home films (which involved
the wrecks he staged with his Lionel train set) while
his sister sold popcorn.
1958, he became a Boy Scout, and fulfilled a requirement
for the photography merit badge by making a nine-minute
8 mm film entitled The Last Gunfight.
Spielberg recalled years later to a magazine interviewer,
"My dad's still-camera was broken, so I asked the
scoutmaster if I could tell a story with my father's movie
camera. He said yes, and I got an idea to do a Western.
I made it and got my merit badge. That was how it all
started." At age 13, Spielberg won a prize for a
40-minute war film he titled Escape to Nowhere which was
based on a battle in east Africa. In 1963, at age 16,
Spielberg wrote and directed his first independent film,
a 140-minute science fiction adventure called Firelight
(which would later inspire Close Encounters). The film,
which had a budget of US$500, was shown in his local cinema
and generated a profit of $1. He also made several WWII
films inspired by his father's war stories.
his parents divorced, he moved to Saratoga, California
with his father. His three sisters and mother remained
in Arizona. He attended Arcadia High School in Phoenix,
Arizona for three years; Spielberg graduated from Saratoga
High School in 1965. It was during this time Spielberg
attained the rank of Eagle Scout.
attended Hebrew school from 1953 to 1957, in classes taught
by Rabbi Albert L. Lewis, who would later be memorialized
as the main character in Mitch Albom's Have a Little Faith.
a child, Spielberg faced difficulty reconciling being
an Orthodox Jew with the perception of him by other children
he played with. "It isn't something I enjoy admitting,"
he once said, "but when I was 7, 8, 9 years old,
God forgive me, I was embarrassed because we were Orthodox
Jews. I was embarrassed by the outward perception of my
parents' Jewish practices. I was never really ashamed
to be Jewish, but I was uneasy at times. My grandfather
always wore a long black coat, black hat and long white
beard. I was embarrassed to invite my friends over to
the house, because he might be in a corner davening [praying],
and I wouldn't know how to explain this to my WASP friends."
Spielberg also said he suffered from acts of anti-Semitic
prejudice in his early life: he later said, "In
high school, I got smacked and kicked around. Two bloody
noses. It was horrible."
moving to California, he applied to attend the film school
at University of Southern California School of Theater,
Film and Television two separate times, but was unsuccessful.
He subsequently became a student at California State University,
Long Beach. While attending Long Beach State in the 1960s,
Spielberg became a member of Theta Chi Fraternity. His
actual career began when he returned to Universal Studios
as an unpaid, seven-day-a-week intern and guest of the
editing department (uncredited). After Spielberg became
famous, USC awarded him an honorary degree in 1994, and
in 1996 he became a trustee of the university. In 2002,
thirty-five years after starting college, Spielberg finished
his degree via independent projects at CSULB, and was
awarded a B.A. in Film Production and Electronic Arts
with an option in Film/Video Production.
an intern and guest of Universal Studios, Spielberg made
his first short film for theatrical release, the 26-minute
Amblin' (1968), the title of which Spielberg later took
as the name of his production company, Amblin Entertainment.
After Sidney Sheinberg, then the vice-president of production
for Universal's TV arm, saw the film, Spielberg became
the youngest director ever to be signed for a long-term
deal with a major Hollywood studio (Universal). He dropped
out of Long Beach State in 1969 to take up the television
director contract at Universal Studios and began his career
as a professional director. In 1969, Variety announced
that Spielberg would direct his first full length film,
Malcolm Winkler, written by Claudia Salter, produced by
John Orland, with Frank Price being the executive producer.
However, because of the difficulty in casting the key
male role, the film was not made. Steven Spielberg also
attended Brookdale Community College for undergrad.
first professional TV job came when he was hired to do
one of the segments for the 1969 pilot episode of Night
Gallery. The segment, "Eyes," starred Joan Crawford,
and she and Spielberg were reportedly close friends until
her death. The episode is unusual in his body of work,
in that the camerawork is more highly stylized than his
later, more "mature" films. After this, and
an episode of Marcus Welby, M.D., Spielberg got his first
feature-length assignment: an episode of The Name of the
Game called "L.A. 2017". This futuristic science
fiction episode impressed Universal Studios and they signed
him to a short contract. He did another segment on Night
Gallery and did some work for shows such as Owen Marshall:
Counselor at Law and The Psychiatrist before landing the
first series episode of Columbo (previous episodes were
actually TV films).
on the strength of his work, Universal signed Spielberg
to do four TV films. The first was a Richard Matheson
adaptation called Duel.
The film is about a psychotic Peterbilt 281 tanker truck
driver who chases a terrified driver (Dennis Weaver) of
a small Plymouth Valiant and tries to run him off the
road. Special praise of this film by the influential British
critic Dilys Powell was highly significant to Spielberg's
career. Another TV film (Something Evil) was made and
released to capitalize on the popularity of The
Exorcist, then a major best-selling book which
had not yet been released as a film. He fulfilled his
contract by directing the TV film length pilot of a show
called Savage, starring Martin Landau. Spielberg's debut
feature film was The Sugarland
Express, about a married couple who are chased
by police as the couple tries to regain custody of their
baby. Spielberg's cinematography for the police chase
was praised by reviewers, and The
Hollywood Reporter stated that "a major
new director is on the horizon." However, the film
fared poorly at the box office and received a limited
producers Richard D. Zanuck and David Brown offered Spielberg
the director's chair for Jaws,
a thriller-horror film based on the Peter Benchley novel
about an enormous killer shark. Spielberg has often referred
to the gruelling shoot as his professional crucible. Despite
the film's ultimate, enormous success, it was nearly shut
down due to delays and budget over-runs.
Spielberg persevered and finished the film. It was an
enormous hit, winning three Academy
Awards (for editing, original score and sound)
and grossing more than $470 million worldwide at the box
office. It also set the domestic record for box office
gross, leading to what the press described as "Jawsmania."
Jaws made him a household name, as well as one of America's
youngest multi-millionaires, and allowed Spielberg a great
deal of autonomy for his future projects. It was nominated
for Best Picture and featured Spielberg's first of three
collaborations with actor Richard Dreyfuss.
offers to direct Jaws 2, King Kong and Superman, Spielberg
and actor Richard Dreyfuss re-convened to work on a film
about UFOs, which became Close
Encounters of the Third Kind (1977). One of
the rare films both written and directed by Spielberg,
Close Encounters was a critical and box office hit, giving
Spielberg his first Best Director nomination from the
Academy as well as earning six other Academy Awards nominations.
It won Oscars in two categories (Cinematography,
Vilmos Zsigmond, and a Special
Achievement Award for Sound Effects Editing,
Frank E. Warner). This second blockbuster helped to secure
Spielberg's rise. His next film, 1941, a big-budgeted
World War II farce, was not nearly as successful and though
it grossed over $92.4 million dollars worldwide (and did
make a small profit for co-producing studios Columbia
and Universal) it was seen as a disappointment, mainly
with the critics.
then revisited his Close Encounters project and, with
financial backing from Columbia Pictures, released Close
Encounters: The Special Edition in 1980. For
this, Spielberg fixed some of the flaws he thought impeded
the original 1977 version of the film and also, at the
behest of Columbia, and as a condition of Spielberg revising
the film, shot additional footage showing the audience
the interior of the mothership seen at the end of the
film (a decision Spielberg would later regret as he felt
the interior of the mothership should have remained a
mystery). Nevertheless, the re-release was a moderate
success, while the 2001 DVD release of the film restored
the original ending.
Spielberg teamed with Star Wars
creator and friend George Lucas on an action adventure
film, Raiders of the Lost Ark,
the first of the Indiana Jones films. The archaeologist
and adventurer hero Indiana Jones was played by Harrison
Ford (whom Lucas had previously cast in his Star Wars
films as Han Solo). The film was considered an homage
to the cliffhanger serials of the Golden Age of Hollywood.
It became the biggest film at the box office in 1981,
and the recipient of numerous Oscar nominations including
Best Director (Spielberg's second nomination) and Best
Picture (the second Spielberg film to be nominated for
Best Picture). Raiders is still considered a landmark
example of the action-adventure genre. The film also led
to Ford's casting in Ridley Scott's Blade
year later, Spielberg returned to the science fiction
genre with E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.
It was the story of a young boy and the alien he befriends,
who was accidentally left behind by his companions and
is attempting to return home. E.T.
the Extra-Terrestrial went on to become the
top-grossing film of all time. E.T. was
also nominated for nine Academy Awards including Best
Picture and Best Director.
1982 and 1985, Spielberg produced three high-grossing
(for which he also co-wrote the screenplay), a big-screen
adaptation of The Twilight Zone
(for which he directed the segment "Kick The Can"),
and The Goonies (Spielberg,
executive producer, also wrote the story on which the
screenplay was based).
next directorial feature was the Raiders prequel Indiana
Jones and the Temple of Doom. Teaming up once
again with Lucas and Ford, the film was plagued with uncertainty
for the material and script. This film and the Spielberg-produced
Gremlins led to the creation of the PG-13 rating due to
the high level of violence in films targeted at younger
audiences. In spite of this, Temple of Doom is rated PG
by the MPAA, even though it is the darkest and, possibly,
most violent Indy film. Nonetheless, the film was still
a huge blockbuster hit in 1984. It was on this project
that Spielberg also met his future wife, actress Kate
1985, Spielberg released The
Color Purple, an adaptation of Alice Walker's
Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name, about a
generation of empowered African-American women during
depression-era America. Starring Whoopi Goldberg and future
talk-show superstar Oprah Winfrey, the film was a box
office smash and critics hailed Spielberg's successful
foray into the dramatic genre. Roger Ebert proclaimed
it the best film of the year and later entered it into
his Great Films archive. The film received eleven Academy
Award nominations, including two for Whoopi Goldberg and
Oprah Winfrey. However, much to the surprise of many,
Spielberg did not get a Best Director nomination. The
Color Purple is the second of two Spielberg
films not to be scored by John Williams, the first being
1987, as China began opening to Western capital investment,
Spielberg shot the first American film in Shanghai since
the 1930s, an adaptation of J. G. Ballard's autobiographical
novel Empire of the Sun, starring John Malkovich and a
young Christian Bale. The film garnered much praise from
critics and was nominated for several Oscars, but did
not yield substantial box office revenues. Reviewer Andrew
Sarris called it the best film of the year and later included
it among the best films of the decade. Spielberg was also
a co-producer of the 1987 film *batteries
two forays into more serious dramatic films, Spielberg
then directed the third Indiana Jones film, 1989's Indiana
Jones and the Last Crusade. Once again teaming
up with Lucas and Ford, Spielberg also cast actor Sean
Connery in a supporting role as Indy's father. The film
earned generally positive reviews and was another box
office success, becoming the highest grossing film worldwide
that year; its total box office receipts even topped those
of Tim Burton's much-anticipated film Batman,
which had been the bigger hit domestically. Also in 1989,
he re-united with actor Richard Dreyfuss for the romantic
about a daredevil pilot who extinguishes forest fires.
Spielberg's first romantic film, Always was only a moderate
success and had mixed reviews.
1991, Spielberg directed Hook,
about a middle-aged Peter Pan, played by Robin Williams,
who returns to Neverland. Despite innumerable rewrites
and creative changes coupled with mixed reviews, the film
proved popular with audiences, making over $300 million
worldwide (from a $70 million budget).
1993, Spielberg returned to the adventure genre with the
film version of Michael Crichton's novel Jurassic
Park, about a theme park with genetically engineered
dinosaurs. With revolutionary special effects provided
by friend George Lucas's Industrial Light & Magic
company, the film would eventually become the highest
grossing film of all time (at the worldwide box office)
with $914.7 million. This would be the third time that
one of Spielberg's films became the highest grossing film
next film, Schindler's List,
was based on the true story of Oskar Schindler, a man
who risked his life to save 1,100 Jews from the Holocaust.
Schindler's List earned Spielberg his first Academy Award
for Best Director (it also won Best Picture). With the
film a huge success at the box office, Spielberg used
the profits to set up the Shoah Foundation, a non-profit
organization that archives filmed testimony of Holocaust
survivors. In 1997, the American Film Institute listed
it among the 10 Greatest American Films ever Made (#9)
which moved up to (#8) when the list was remade in 2007.
1994, Spielberg took a hiatus from directing to spend
more time with his family and build his new studio, DreamWorks,
with partners Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen. In
1997, he helmed the sequel to 1993's Jurassic
Park with The Lost
World: Jurassic Park, which generated over
$618 million worldwide despite mixed reviews, and was
the second biggest hit of 1997 behind James Cameron's
Titanic (which topped
the original Jurassic Park to become the new recordholder
for box office receipts).
next film, Amistad,
was based on a true story (like Schindler's List), specifically
about an African slave rebellion. Despite decent reviews
from critics, it did not do well at the box office. Spielberg
released Amistad under
DreamWorks Pictures, which issued all of his films from
Amistad until Indiana Jones
and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull in May
1998, Spielberg re-visited Close Encounters yet again,
this time for a more definitive 137-minute "Collector's
Edition" that puts more emphasis on the original
1977 release, while adding some elements of the previous
1980 "Special Edition," but deleting the latter
version's "Mothership Finale," which Spielberg
regretted shooting in the first place, feeling it should
have remained ambiguous in the minds of viewers.
next theatrical release in that same year was the World
War II film Saving Private Ryan,
about a group of U.S. soldiers led by Capt. Miller (Tom
Hanks) sent to bring home a paratrooper whose three older
brothers were killed in the last twenty four hours of
action in France. The film was a huge box office success,
grossing over $481 million worldwide and was the biggest
film of the year at the North American box office (worldwide
it made second place after Michael Bay's Armageddon).
Spielberg won his second Academy Award for his direction.
The film's graphic, realistic depiction of combat violence
influenced later war films such as Black
Hawk Down and Enemy
at the Gates. The film was also the first major
hit for DreamWorks, which co-produced the film with Paramount
Pictures (as such, it was Spielberg's first release from
the latter that was not part of the Indiana Jones series).
Later, Spielberg and Tom Hanks produced a TV mini-series
based on Stephen Ambrose's book Band
of Brothers. The ten-part HBO mini-series follows
Easy Company of the 101st Airborne Division's 506th Parachute
Infantry Regiment. The series won
a number of awards at the Golden Globes and the Emmys.
2001, Spielberg filmed fellow director and friend Stanley
Kubrick's final project, A.I.
Artificial Intelligence which Kubrick was unable
to begin during his lifetime. A futuristic film about
a humanoid android longing for love, A.I. featured groundbreaking
visual effects and a multi-layered, allegorical storyline,
adapted by Spielberg himself. Though the film's reception
in the US was relatively muted, it performed better overseas
for a worldwide total box office gross of $236 million.
and actor Tom Cruise collaborated for the first time for
the futuristic neo-noir Minority
Report, based upon the science fiction short
story written by Philip K. Dick about a Washington D.C.
police captain in the year 2054 who has been foreseen
to murder a man he has not yet met. The film received
strong reviews with the review tallying website Rotten
Tomatoes giving it a 92% approval rating, reporting that
206 out of the 225 reviews they tallied were positive.
The film earned over $358 million worldwide. Roger Ebert,
who named it the best film of 2002, praised its breathtaking
vision of the future as well as for the way Spielberg
blended CGI with live-action.
2002 film Catch Me If You Can
is about the daring adventures of a youthful con artist
(played by Leonardo DiCaprio). It earned Christopher Walken
an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
The film is known for John Williams' score and its unique
title sequence. It was a hit both commercially and critically.[citation
collaborated again with Tom Hanks along with Catherine
Zeta-Jones and Stanley Tucci in 2004's The
Terminal, a warm-hearted comedy about a man
of Eastern European descent who is stranded in an airport.
It received mixed reviews but performed relatively well
at the box office. In 2005, Empire
magazine ranked Spielberg number one on a list
of the greatest film directors of all time.
in 2005, Spielberg directed a modern adaptation of War
of the Worlds (a co-production of Paramount
and DreamWorks), based on the H. G. Wells book of the
same name (Spielberg had been a huge fan of the book and
the original 1953 film). It starred Tom Cruise and Dakota
Fanning, and, as with past Spielberg films, Industrial
Light & Magic (ILM) provided the visual effects. Unlike
E.T. and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, which depicted
friendly alien visitors, War of the Worlds featured violent
invaders. The film was another huge box office smash,
grossing over $591 million worldwide.
film Munich, about
the events following the 1972 Munich Massacre of Israeli
athletes at the Olympic Games, was his second film essaying
Jewish relations in the world (the first being Schindler's
List). The film is based on Vengeance:
The True Story of an Israeli Counter-Terrorist Team,
a book by Canadian journalist George Jonas. It was previously
adapted into the 1986 made-for-TV film Sword
of Gideon. The film received strong critical
praise, but underperformed at the U.S. and world box-office;
it remains one of Spielberg's most controversial films
to date. Munich received
five Academy Awards nominations, including Best Picture,
Film Editing, Original Music Score (by John Williams),
Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Director for Spielberg.
It was Spielberg's sixth Best Director nomination and
fifth Best Picture nomination.
directed Indiana Jones and the
Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, which wrapped
filming in October 2007 and was released on May 22, 2008.
This was his first film not to be released by DreamWorks
since 1997. The film received generally positive reviews
from critics, and has performed very well in theaters.
As of May 10, 2010, Indiana Jones
and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull has grossed
$317 million domestically, and over $786 million worldwide.
early 2009, Spielberg shot the first film in a planned
trilogy of motion capture films based on The
Adventures of Tintin, written by Belgian artist
Hergé, with Peter Jackson. The
Adventures of Tintin, was not released until
October 2011, due to the complexity of the computer animation
involved. The world premiere took place on October 22,
2011 in Brussels, Belgium. The film was released in North
American theaters on December 21, 2011, in Digital 3D
and IMAX. It received generally positive reviews from
critics, and grossed over $373 million worldwide. The
Adventures of Tintin won
the award for Best Animated Feature Film at the Golden
Globe Awards that year. It is the first non-Pixar
film to win the award since the category was first introduced.
Jackson has been announced to direct the second film,
which Spielberg will produce.
followed that with War Horse,
shot in England in the summer of 2010. It was released
just four days after The Adventures
of Tintin, on December 25, 2011. The film,
based on the novel of the same name written by Michael
Morpurgo and published in 1982, follows the long friendship
between a British boy and his horse Joey before and during
World War I the novel was also adapted into a hit
play in London which is still running there, as well as
on Broadway. The film was released and distributed by
Disney, with whom DreamWorks has made a 30-picture deal.
War Horse received generally positive reviews from critics,
and was nominated for six Academy Awards including Best
1985 to 1989, Spielberg was married to actress Amy Irving.
In their 1989 divorce settlement, she received $100 million
from Spielberg after a judge controversially vacated a
prenuptial agreement written on a napkin. Their divorce
was recorded as the third most costly celebrity divorce
in history. Following the divorce, Spielberg and Irving
shared custody of their son, Max Samuel.
subsequently developed a relationship with actress Kate
Capshaw, whom he met when he cast her in Indiana
Jones and the Temple of Doom. They married
on October 12, 1991. Capshaw is a convert to Judaism.
They currently move among their four homes in Pacific
Palisades, California; New York City; Quelle Farm, Georgica
Pond in East Hampton, NY; and Naples, Florida.
are seven children in the Spielberg-Capshaw family:
Jessica Capshaw (born August 9, 1976) daughter
from Kate Capshaw's previous marriage to Robert Capshaw
Max Samuel Spielberg (born June 13, 1985)
son from Spielberg's previous marriage to actress Amy
Theo Spielberg (born 1988) son adopted by
Capshaw before her marriage to Spielberg, who later also
Sasha Rebecca Spielberg (born May 14, 1990, Los
Sawyer Avery Spielberg (born March 10, 1992, Los
Mikaela George (born February 28, 1996)
adopted with Kate Capshaw
Destry Allyn Spielberg (born December 1, 1996)