One of the top filmmakers America has ever produced, Steven Spielberg has been the driving force behind countless contemporary classics over the last four decades. As a producer and director, he has earned three Academy Awards, and his films have grossed more than $8 billion.
Since he spends most of his time behind the camera, there’s a good chance you haven’t heard too much about the man responsible for so many hit movies. Here, therefore, are 10 incredible facts about Steven Spielberg.
1. He made profit from his first ever feature-length film
He made his first feature-length film while he was in high school. The movie was called “Firelight”, and it cost about $400 to produce. After its completion, Spielberg screened the movie at a local theater and brought in $500, enough to make a nice profit of $100.
2. He struggled with dyslexia
Suffering from dyslexia as a kid, Spielberg had trouble getting into film school because of his abysmal grade point average. He was finally admitted into the film program at California State University, but he dropped out three years later when he was offered a job by Universal Studios. In 2002, he finally completed his degree via independent study.
3. Steven has seven children
Spielberg met his second wife, Kate Capshaw, while filming the hit blockbuster “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.” The two married in 1991 and have seven children together. Two of their kids are adopted, and Spielberg is known for being an ardent adoption advocate.
4. He invented the PG-13 rating
Known for his early films that toed the line between family and adult entertainment, Spielberg is responsible for the introduction of the PG-13 rating by the Motion Picture Association of America. He suggested the idea to MPAA president Jack Valenti, who embraced it and brought it to fruition.
5. His dog is a movie star
Spielberg’s cocker spaniel Elmer played roles in four of his movies in the 1970s. In addition to a memorable scene in “Jaws”, the dog was also featured in “The Sugarland Express”, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”, and “1941”.
6. He was moved during the making of “Schindler’s List”
As a Jewish director, Spielberg was profoundly moved by the experience of making “Schindler’s List.” He refused to take any payment for his work on the film–insisting that it would be “blood money,” and he often found himself getting so depressed on set that Robin Williams would call him up and tell him jokes over the phone to lighten his mood.
7. He was denied to direct James Bond movies
Though he has had no problem creating successful film franchises of his own, Spielberg was denied the opportunity to direct a James Bond movie. A long-time fan of the spy thrillers, Spielberg made bids twice in his early career to helm a 007 flick, but producers turned him down both times.
8. He lost a fortune in the Ponzi scheme
When Bernie Madoff’s famous Ponzi scheme went up in smoke, Spielberg was among the many people who lost fortunes. Madoff took money from Spielberg’s charitable Wunderkinder Foundation, which significantly hurt the director’s philanthropic efforts.
9. He knows where to invest
Though he had nothing to do with the making of “Star Wars”, Spielberg has a vested interest in the success of the franchise. He and pal George Lucas struck up a bargain in the 70s that gave Spielberg a 2.5 percent share of the “Star Wars” enterprise in exchange for Lucas getting 2.5 percent of “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”.
To this day, Spielberg makes money off of “Star Wars” royalties and merchandise sales.
10. He is godfather to two famous actresses
Spielberg has worked with some of the biggest names in Hollywood when they were just starting out. In fact, after working with child actors Drew Barrymore in “E.T.” and Gwyneth Paltrow in “Hook”, the director became godfather to both of the girls.