Gerald Geronimo / Wikicommons
  • Faith: Judaism
  • Career: Director
  • Birthday:  December 18, 1946

Steven Spielberg is a producer, director, and screenwriter. A significant figure of the New Hollywood era and a pioneer of the modern blockbuster, he’s the most commercially successful director in history. He’s the recipient of many accolades, including three Academy Awards, two BAFTA Awards and four Directors Guild of America Awards, as well as the AFI Life Achievement Award in 1995, the Kennedy Center Honor in 2006, the Cecil B. DeMille Award in 2009, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015. Seven of his movies have been inducted into the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

Spielberg was born in Cincinnati, Ohio and grew up in Phoenix, Arizona. He moved to California and studied film in college. After directing several television episodes, including “Night Gallery” and “Columbo,” he directed the TV movie “Duel,” which later received an international theatrical release. He made his theatrical debut with “The Sugarland Express” and became a household name with the 1975 summer blockbuster “Jaws.” He directed more box office success with “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” “E.T., the Extra-Terrestrial,” and the original “Indiana Jones” trilogy. He subsequently explored drama with “The Color Purple” and “Empire of the Sun.” In 1993, Spielberg directed back-to-back blockbuster hits with “Jurassic Park,” the highest-grossing film ever at the time and “Schindler’s List,” which has often been listed as one of the greatest films ever made.

He won the Academy Award for Best Director for the latter and the 1998 World War II film “Saving Private Ryan.” Spielberg has since directed “A.I. Artificial Intelligence,” “Minority Report,” “War of the Worlds,” “The Adventures of Tin Tin,” “Ready Player One,” “Amistad,” “Munich,” “War Horse,” “Lincoln,” “Bridge of Spies,” “The Post,” “West Side Story,” and “The Fablemans.” Spielberg co-founded Amblin Entertainment and DreamWorks and has served as a producer for many successful television series and movies, among them “Poltergeist,” “Gremlins,” “Back to the Future,” “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” and “Band of Brothers.” He has had a long collaboration with composer John Williams, with whom he’s worked for all but five of his feature films.

Several of Spielberg’s works are considered among the greatest movies in history, and some are among the highest-grossing films ever made. In 2013, Time listed him as one of the 100 most influential people. In 2023, he was the recipient of the first-ever Time 100 Impact Award in the United States. Reviewing “Close Encounters,” Pauline Kael called a young Spielberg “a magician in the age of movies.”

What religion is Steven Spielberg?

Spielberg was born in 1946 in Cincinnati, Ohio. His immediate family was situationally Reform Jewish/Orthodox Jewish. In early 1957, his family moved to Phoenix, Arizona. Spielberg had a bar mitzvah when he was 13, and his family was involved in the synagogue with many Jewish friends. Of the Holocaust, he said that his parents “talked about it all the time, and so it was always on my mind.” His father lost between 16 and 20 relatives in the Holocaust.

Spielberg found it challenging to accept his heritage, saying, “It isn’t something I enjoy admitting, but when I was seven, eight, nine 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.”

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