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Steven Spielberg - Biography

The director known for blockbuster films such as Schindler's List, War Horse and the Indiana Jones movies was born in 1946

Steven Spielberg smiling at an event photo call
Hannah Watkin
Content Writer
Updated: June 21, 2023
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Early life

Steven Allan Spielberg was born in Cincinnati, Ohio on December 18, 1946, to Arnold Spielberg, an electrical engineer, and his wife Leah, a restauranteur and concert pianist. The couple would divorce amicably in 1965, but not before welcoming three daughters to the family. 

Inspired by his father's military past (Arnold had served as a radio man on B-52 bombers) Steven - who developed his passion for filmmaking at a very young age - shot his first WWII film before the age of 16. After an inspiring trip to Los Angeles, he returned home and finished his first feature-length film, Firelight, in 1963. His dad rented out the local cinema for one night to screen the film, with Steven's sisters selling refreshments.

After suffering two rejections from the University of Southern California's film department, Steven enrolled at California State University, Long Beach, but left before finishing his degree in order to pursue a filmmaking career. Aged 21, he became the youngest director to sign a long-term deal with a major Hollywood studio, though few predicted the impact he would have on the film industry.

Hollywood success

The legendary director's first theatrical release, Sugarland Express, dazzled critics. Jaws the original summer blockbuster was next, becoming the first film ever to gross more than $100 million. An endless stream of hits followed, including Close Encounters Of A Third Kind (partly inspired by his first film Firelight) and for which he received his first Oscar nomination. Later Steven would release back to back hits such as Raiders Of The Lost Ark, E.T., The Color Purple, and Jurassic Park.

MORE: Where are the stars of Jurassic Park now 

In 1993, following the monstrous success of Jurassic Park, Steven threw out his storyboards, picked up a black and white camera and set about filming a labor of love. Schindler's List emerged and was instantly hailed as a masterpiece. The film grossed $230 million worldwide, and with the profits he created the Shoah Foundation which preserves the history of the Holocaust through interviews and films. Steven took home both the Academy Award for Best Director and Best Film that year, and firmly established himself as much more than a popcorn-flick director.

In 1994, Spielberg set up DreamWorks film studio alongside Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen and along with the help of investors including Microsoft's Bill Gates and Paul Allen. In 2005, the founders sold DreamWorks to Viacom, however this partnership involving Paramount Pictures came to an end in 2008. The studio now operates out of offices in Universal Studios Hollywood.

Personal Life

The four-time Oscar winner married actress Amy Irving in 1985, and they welcomed their first child Max the same year. The couple divorced in 1989. In 1991, Steven married actress Kate Capshaw, whom he had met nearly ten years earlier at an audition for Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom. The American actress who was brought up a protestant converted to Judaism prior to their marriage in October. The E.T. director now shares six children, Max with Amy, and Sasha, Sawyer, Destry, Theo and Mikaela with Kate. He also looked after a step-daughter, Jessica, with his second wife.

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