Happy Birthday, Steven Spielberg!

On December 18, 1946, Steven Spielberg was born in Cincinnati, Ohio.  See how much you know about one of the most successful and influential players in the motion picture industry...


What Was Spielberg's First Cinematic Effort? # Steven Spielberg, one of the world's premier filmmakers. As a preteen in 1957, Spielberg's father got a job with General Electric in Phoenix, Arizona. Steven and his family settled in the comfortable middle-class neighborhood of Arcadia, which straddles the border between the cities of Phoenix and Scottsdale.

The following year, the younger Spielberg joined the Boy Scouts. To fulfill the requirements for a merit badge in photography, he asked his scoutmaster if he could make a motion picture rather than submit proof of his expertise in still photography. Although he was already smitten by the movies, it was a request born of necessity because his father's still camera was broken.

 Of that early experience, Spielberg years later told an interviewer that the scoutmaster gave the go-ahead, ¨and I got an idea to do a Western.¨ The end-result was a nine-minute, 8-millimeter film titled ¨The Last Gunfight.¨ Spielberg got his merit badge and thus embarked on a history-making career in filmmaking.

What Television Film Led to His Career Making Blockbuster Movies? # Besides an enormous man-eating shark, Spielberg movies have also featured aliens, killer trucks, dinosaurs, Abraham Lincoln, and pirates. Photo source: Bigstock The film was Duel, released in 1972. Spielberg patterned it on the old Godzilla movies, replacing the monster with a tanker truck. He had a choice of trucks for the film and decided on a Peterbilt because he felt the front grill and cab resembled a human face. This film is full of imagery. For example, the truck is unusual in that it has multiple license plates mounted on the front, representing places where it had taken the lives of its victims. Duel was so popular as a TV film that additional scenes were added so that it qualified as a full-length movie.


Why Wasn't He Paid for His Work on Schindler's List? Of the many blockbuster films made by Spielberg on his own or in collaboration with others, none was closer to his heart than Schindler's List, the story of German industrialist Oskar Schindler who saved an estimated 1,200 Jews from possible extermination in the Nazi death camps.

Raised as an Orthodox Jew, Spielberg wasn't born until more than a year after the end of World War II in Europe. However, like Jews everywhere, his life was forever touched by the Nazi campaign to wipe out the Jews of Europe. Relatives of the Spielberg family from Poland and Ukraine perished in the death camps of Hitler's Nazi regime.

Because of the story's resonance with Spielberg, he flatly refused to accept any payment for his work on the film, arguing that to do so would be to take ¨blood money.¨ He also turned down an opportunity to film at Auschwitz on the grounds that it would be insensitive to the memories of the thousands who died there.

The finished film, an enormous popular and critical success, earned for Spielberg his first Academy Award as Best Director. It was also selected by the Motion Picture Academy as the Best Picture of the Year. 

What was the nickname director Steven Spielberg gave the mechanical shark in the film Jaws? # The mechanical shark that terrorized audiences in the film Jaws was simply called “Bruce” on set. Named after Spielberg’s lawyer, Bruce Ramer, the mechanical shark was around 25 feet long and weighed around three tons, making him gigantic for a great white shark. Bruce became such a public icon that his name was used several times in various other films and documentaries, including the the great white shark in Finding Nemo.

In Which Spielberg Movie Were Real Guns Used Instead of Props? Real weapons were used in the making of War of the Worlds. However, the firing mechanisms had been removed. That wasn’t the only thing that was real. Troops from the National Guard were used to portray the drivers of the military vehicles in the movie.

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