Without any doubt, one of the most influential film personalities in the history of films, Steven Spielberg is perhaps Hollywood’s best known directors and filmmakers. Spielberg, in his career spanning more than four decades, has spanned movies on many themes and genres. He has countless big-grossing, critically acclaimed credits to his name, as producer, director and writer.
Filmmaker, director and producer Steven Allan Spielberg was born on December 18, 1946, in Cincinnati, Ohio. An amateur filmmaker as a child, Spielberg moved several times growing up and spent part of his youth in Arizona. He became one of the youngest television directors for Universal in the late 1960s. A highly praised television film, Duel (1972), brought him the opportunity to direct for the cinema, and a long string of hits have made him the most commercially successful director of all time.
Spielberg’s films have explored primeval fears, as in Jaws (1975), or expressed childlike wonder at the marvels of this world and beyond, as in Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) and E.T. (1982). He has also tackled literary adaptations, such as The Color Purple (1985) and Empire of the Sun (1987). And audiences around the world were riveted by the continuing adventures of his daredevil hero Indiana Jones in such films as Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984). Imaginative fantasy is dominant in Spielberg’s Peter Pan-inspired Hook (1991), while Jurassic Park (1993) and its sequel The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997) rely on traditional action and monster-horror sequences.
Spielberg is also known for his impressive historical films. The Holocaust drama Schindler’s List (1993), starring Liam Neeson as a businessman who helps save Jewish citizens, won seven Academy Awards, including Spielberg’s first win as best director. In 1998, he revisited World War II, this time from the perspective of American soldiers in Europe in Saving Private Ryan (1998), which earned him another Academy Award for best director. His first film company, Amblin Entertainment, which was founded in 1982, produced several other successful movies, notably Back to the Future (1985) and its two sequels, and Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988).
In 1994 Spielberg formed a new studio, Dreamworks SKG with Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen. (It was later bought by Paramount Pictures in 2005.) In 2001 he completed the science fiction outing AI: Artificial Intelligence, a project begun by Stanley Kubrick. Later films include another sci-fi adventure Minority Report (2002) and the Academy Award-nominated Munich (2005). He also served as producer for the Clint Eastwood-directed WWII films Flags of Our Fathers (2006) and Letters from Iwo Jima (2006).
Spielberg reunited with George Lucas for the latest installment of the Indiana Jones saga in 2008. Spielberg directed the film, which featured Harrison Ford reprising his role as the famed adventurer in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Spielberg also helmed 2011’s animated The Adventures of Tintin, based on the popular comic series by Hergé. It was his film version of War Horse (2011), however, that won him more critical acclaim. The movie received six Academy Award nominations.
In November 2012, Spielberg debuted another legendary film project, Lincoln, in which he directed Daniel Day-Lewis in the biopic of President Abraham Lincoln. Joseph Gordon-Levitt played son Robert and Sally Field portrayed wife Mary Todd Lincoln in a much anticipated, much talked about drama that was ultimately nominated for 12 Oscars, winning two. In addition to directing, Spielberg has been instrumental in numerous projects as an executive producer. He has helped bring such television shows as Terra Nova, Smash, Falling Skies and Extant to the small screen.
Spielberg also served as executive producer for the record-breaking 2015 blockbuster Jurassic World. Later that year he released another directorial project, the Oscar-nominated Cold War thriller Bridge of Spies, starring Tom Hanks. The two had previously worked together on projects like Catch Me If You Can (2002) and The Terminal (2004) as well as Saving Private Ryan.
Spielberg has been extremely active in films there are many other things he has done as well. He produced the short-lived TV series SeaQuest 2032 (1993), an anthology series entitled Amazing Stories (1985), created the video-game series “Medal of Honor” set during World War Two, and was a starting producer of ER (1994). Spielberg, if you haven’t noticed, has a great interest in World War Two. He and Tom Hanks collaborated on Shooting War (2000), a documentary about World War II combat photographers, and he produced a documentary about the Holocaust called Eyes of the Holocaust (2000). With all of this to Spielberg’s credit, it’s no wonder that he’s looked at as one of the greatest ever figures in entertainment.
Along with his three Oscar wins, Spielberg has received many other honors. He received the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1986. In 2004, Spielberg received the Directors Guild of America Lifetime Achievement Award and the French Legion of Honor in recognition of his work. The following year, he was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame. In November 2015, the iconic filmmaker was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.