Steven Spielberg at “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” set. The director-producer is one of Hollywood’s most influential filmmakers. He is responsible for many of Hollywood’s most beloved films, such as “Jaws” and “E.T.”: The Extra-Terrestrial,” Raiders of the Lost Ark,” and Jurassic Park, as well as the Oscar-winning dramas “Schindler’s list” and “Saving Private Ryan.” He co-founded Dreamworks, a film studio that helped launch many other successful filmmakers.
By CBSNews.com senior producer David Morgan
Steven Spielberg was born in Cincinnati on September 26, 1946. He grew-up in New Jersey and Arizona. There he made amateur films with his friends. At age 17, his first commercial release was “Firelight”, a 2 hour and 20-minute science fiction story about UFOs, alien abduction, and it predated his blockbuster “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”. “Firelight” was filmed in 8mm and cost $400. It premiered at a Phoenix rented theater. It was a sign of his future wealth: The director claimed that the screening made him $1.
Spielberg’s 1968 student film, “Amblin”, became his calling card in Hollywood. He began his career on the Universal Studios lot as a high school errand boy. He quickly moved into television production, and at 22 he directed Joan Crawford in a segment for Rod Serling’s “Night Gallery”, a 1969 pilot.
With his ABC TV-movie, “Duel”, (1971), Spielberg attracted much attention. It starred Dennis Weaver playing a motorist who is being terrorized and driven by an unknown truck driver. Cleverly shot, the film made great use of its 74-minute running duration (not counting commercials). Later theatrical releases included an expanded version.
“The Sugarland Express”
Spielberg was given his first film directing job on the condition that veteran producers supervise him and that a bankable star be cast. The film, which featured Richard Zanuck and David Brown as producers and Goldie Hayn as the desperate mother who helps her husband escape from prison, “The Sugarland Express,” (1974), was a promising debut. The Cannes Film Festival also awarded the Best Screenplay award to Hal Barwood (screenwriter) and Matthew Robbins (screenwriter).
Spielberg’s next feature film, Jaws (1975), was a great success. It is a gripping thriller on shark attacks. Although it was released in the dead season of summer, Hollywood considered it an unpromising moment to market a movie. But it became the greatest moneymaker of all times. “Jaws” and “Star Wars”, two summers later, changed the way the movie industry planned and promoted films forever.
“Close Encounters of Third Kind”
Steven Spielberg as Director on the set of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, for which he received his first Academy Award nominations.
John Belushi in “1941”, a hilarious comedy about the paranoia that accompanies an invasion of America’s West Coast after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
“Raiders of the Lost Ark.”
Karen Allen and Harrison Ford are in a sticky spot in the end of the action-adventure “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, (1981), directed Steven Spielberg.
“Indiana Jones & the Temple of Doom”
“Raiders,” which was a sequel to “Raiders,” led to three sequels starring Harrison Ford: “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.”
“Indiana Jones & the Temple of Doom”
George Lucas, producer and Steven Spielberg on the set of “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.”
Steven Spielberg’s set of “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982). The story of an alien who finds himself stranded on Earth. A young boy befriends him and tries to help him return home. To surpass “Star Wars”, “E.T.” became the largest box office. It also became a rarity, a science fiction film was nominated for the Best Picture Oscar.
Steven Spielberg is known for his naturalistic performances with child actors. Drew Barrymore is here to discuss the set for “E.T.”: The Extra-Terrestrial.”
Spielberg is also a director. He has served as executive producer or producer for Joe Dante (“Gremlins”) Robert Zemeckis (“Back to the Future”), Michael Apted (“Continental Divide”) and Barry Levinson (“Young Sherlock Holmes”). He also managed several TV series, including “Amazing Stories.”
Left: A scene taken from “Poltergeist”, a supernatural thriller, directed by Tobe Hopper and produced by Spielberg.
“Empire of the Sun.”
Christian Bale and Steven Spielberg were on the set of Empire of the Sun, based on J.G. Ballard’s autobiography describes his time in Japan as a young boy and how it impacted his life.
Director Steven Spielberg, Dustin Hoffamn and the cast of “Hook”, a return trip to Never-Never Land.
Holly Hunter and Richard Dreyfuss star in the spectral romance, “Always” (1989), which is a remake from Spencer Tracy’s tale “A Guy Named Joe.”
“A.I.: Artificial Intelligence”
Director Steven Spielberg and Haley Joel Osment at the “A.I.” set.: Artificial Intelligence” (2001). Stanley Kubrick initially developed the project with Spielberg, but eventually gave it over to Spielberg because he believed the story of a boy robot was more appealing to his sensibilities. Two years after Kubrick’s passing, the final film was released.
“The Color Purple.”
Spielberg directed the film adaptation from Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about a young African American woman who wakes up after years of abuse. “The Color Purple” (1985) was Spielberg’s directorial debut. Akosua Busia, Whoopi Goldberg are the stars.
The film received 11 Academy Award nominations but none for Spielberg (although he did receive the Directors Guild of America Award).
A scene from Steven Spielberg’s movie “Jurassic Park.” The science fiction adventure was based on Michael Crichton’s bestseller and was a monster hit. It also introduced a new era for visual effects, with its computer-animated dinosaurs.
Steven Spielberg filming “Schindler’s List” (1993), the harrowing Holocaust drama for whom he won his first Academy Award for Best Director.
“The Lost World”
In “The Lost World,” Spielberg returned to the prehistoric dangers in “Jurassic Park.” Here he directs an actor.
Director Steven Spielberg made three cameo appearances as a director: As a bureaucrat stamping a receipt for “The Blues Brothers”), as a wheelchair-driver attending an inventors convention in “Gremlins”) (upper right), and as himself telling Mike Myers how he can direct comedy “Austin Powers In Goldmember”‘s opening credits sequence.
Morgan Freeman, Anthony Hopkins and Steven Spielberg at the set of the historical drama Amistad (1997)
“Saving Private Ryan”
A scene from the 1999 World War II drama “Saving Private Ryan” starring Tom Hanks. Spielberg was awarded his second Academy Award as Best Director for the film’s unflinching depiction of D-Day.
“Saving Private Ryan”
Director Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks and Tom Hanks filming Normandy’s assault in “Saving Private Ryan.”
Steven Spielberg directs Tom Cruise & Samantha Morton in “Minority Report”, a science fiction thriller loosely inspired by a Philip K. Dick story.
“Catch Me If I Can”
Leonardo diCaprio as actor and Steven Spielberg as director film “Catch Me If You Can,” about an international con artist.
Catherine Zeta Jones, director Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks on “The Terminal”, a whimsical comedy about a visitor (played from abroad) trapped in a New York City Airport.
Steven Spielberg photographed at the set of “Munich,” a political thriller.
“War of the Worlds.”
Steven Spielberg and Tom Cruise at the science fiction thriller “War of the Worlds” set.
Steven Spielberg and Kate Capshaw, his wife, arrive at the 79th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood’s Kodak Theatre on Sunday, February 25, 2007. Spielberg was nominated for producer of Clint Eastwood’s film “Letters from Iwo Jima.”
Steven Spielberg captures the moment Clint Eastwood and Ellen DeGeneres at the 79th Annual Academy Awards in Hollywood, Calif. Sunday, February 25, 2007.
Martin Scorsese, Academy Award-winner in Best Director for “The Departed”, poses with presenters, directors Francis Ford Coppola and Steven Spielberg at the 79th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood’s Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, Calif. on Sunday, February 25, 2007.
“Indiana Jones, the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,”
Karen Allen, who starred as Marion Ravenwood in “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, returned to the role in the sequel, “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008).” Here she is with Steven Spielberg, the director.
Steven Spielberg, producer, and J.J. Abrams, director on “Super 8”.
“The Adventures of Tintin.”
Spielberg ventured into motion capture performance for “The Adventures of Tintin,” an animated film that was made in 2011. It was based upon Herge’s comic books about the young reporter. Above: Spielberg controls a camera on the virtual set.
Steven Spielberg shooting his World War I epic, “War Horse”, (2011) in location. It is an adaptation of the Tony Award winning stage play.
He explained to Martha Teichner that he views it as a story about “the connections that an animal makes that perhaps only an animal can in bringing people together and bringing everyone on the same side of a problem, even one as large as the Great War.” It takes something as primal as a magnificent horse to allow everyone to share a common goal. I believe that’s where the story began emotionally for me.
A scene from Steven Spielberg’s “War Horse”, which was nominated to receive six Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
“Lincoln”, (2012) shows the drama of President Abraham Lincoln’s last days in office. Starring Oscar-winner Daniel Day Lewis the film examines President Abraham Lincoln’s moral courage as he closes the Civil War and signs the Emancipation Proclamation ending slavery.
Lesley Stahl, director of “60 Minutes,” said that Spielberg always wanted to tell America’s 16th president’s story. It took Spielberg more than 10 years of research. The director of period films like “Schindler’s List”, “Amistad” or “The Color Purple”, Spielberg said that “Lincoln” is unlike any other film he’s ever made.
Stahl hears Spielberg tell Stahl that he saw Lincoln as a paternal father figure. Someone who was fully, stubbornly committed his ideals, and his vision. I think the film is very relevant to today. It’s about leadership. …
“I think there is a sense of darkness.” [with] He spoke of Lincoln. “He had two agendas. One was to heal the war, the other was to abolish slavery and end the war. He also had a personal life, and I believe there was darkness there.”
“Bridge of Spies”
In the Cold War thriller “Bridge of Spies”, Tom Hanks plays the role of a private attorney who handles insurance cases. Hanks is asked by the U.S. to broker a spy trade in East Berlin between the U.S.S.R. – captured U-2 spy plane pilot Francis Gary Powers for Soviet spy Rudolf Abel. Mark Rylance was awarded the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor because of his performance as Abel.
Meryl Streep, a regular Spielberg actor, appeared with Tom Hanks in “The Post.” She played Kathryn Graham, Washington Post owner, in the 2017 film. She was portrayed as Kathryn Graham, who in 1970s committed her newspaper’s publication to publishing the Pentagon Papers. This allowed her to pit herself against Nixon over the release of government secrets about Vietnam War.
“Ready Player One.”
Based on Ernest Cline’s bestselling 2011 novel, “Ready Player One” (2018) follows a game enthusiast who searches for a hidden Easter Egg in a virtual universe known as The OASIS. He is challenged by a variety of pop culture avatars and corporate villains in reality.
“West Side Story”
Spielberg was nominated for his eighth Oscar for direction of 2021’s “West Side Story,” which is a remake and adaptation of the 1961 musical directed by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins. Ariana DeBose won Best Supporting Actress Oscar for playing Anita, the same role for which Rita Moreno won an Oscar.
In what is his most personal film to date, “The Fabelmans” (2022), Spielberg tells a semi-autobiographical story of a young boy’s growing interest in filmmaking, and of his parents, touching on a family secret he had buried for years.
A portrait of Steven Spielberg at the set of “Schindler’s List”