Steven Spielberg was born to Orthodox Jewish parents in Cincinnati, Ohio on December 18, 1946. In 1965 he enrolled at California State College (now California State University) to pursue a degree in film studies, but dropped out in 1968 to begin directing films professionally. Spielberg returned to Cal State to complete his formal education many years later, officially earning a BA degree in 2002. By then, he was well established as one of the film industry’s most influential directors and producers. For details about Spielberg’s career and the movies he has created, click here.
In 1994 Spielberg teamed up with fellow Hollywood moguls David Geffen and Jeffrey Katzenberg to create the movie studio Dreamworks SKG. That same year, Spielberg used a portion of the profits he had earned from the blockbuster film Schindler’s List to establish the Righteous Persons Foundation (RPF), a funder of numerous left-wing groups and causes.
Spielberg and his wife, actress Kate Capshaw, have donated generously to many Democrat political figures. In the 1990s they developed a personal friendship with Bill Clinton, during whose presidency the couple contributed more than $400,000 to the Democratic National Committee. As of November 2015, Spielberg over the years, had given more than $468,000 to support Mr. Clinton’s political endeavors, plus an additional $1.03 million to support Hillary Clinton, and at least another $1 million to the Clinton Foundation.
In 2000, Spielberg was presented with the Human Rights Campaign‘s “National Equality Award” for his decision to resign from the Boy Scouts of America’s advisory board because of that organization’s policies barring homosexuals from leadership positions and membership.
In November 2002, Spielberg went to Cuba to attend a festival celebrating his body of work in the film industry. A strong opponent of the U.S. trade embargo against that country, Spielberg urged for the Bush administration to “wipe the slate clean” and told a crowd of cheering onlookers: “I feel so much at home here. I hope to come back many times in the future.” Also during his stay in Cuba, Spielberg spent eight hours with dictator Fidel Castro, conversing amicably about environmental issues, politics, history, and the embargo. Afterward, the filmmaker described his time with Castro as “the eight most important hours of my life.”
In August 2004 Spielberg produced a promotional video montage for Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry, consisting of 1970s film footage from Kerry’s military tour-of-duty in Vietnam. According to a campaign source, Spielberg also advised Kerry on how he could enhance his public image. In addition to encouraging the candidate to smile more and to tone down his “academic” speaking style, Spielberg sent Kerry a number of John Wayne movies and urged him to emulate the actor’s use of strategic pauses to give his words greater emphasis.
In February 2008 Spielberg collaborated with Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen to organize an exclusive Beverly Hills fundraiser for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, an event that reportedly netted $1 million. Nevertheless, in June 2008 Spielberg officially endorsed Senator Hillary Clinton as his first choice for president, “convinced” that she was “the most qualified candidate to lead us from her first day in the White House.”
Also in 2008, Spielberg donated $100,000 to a campaign to defeat Proposition 8), a California ballot initiative that sought to ban gay marriage in that state. “Such discrimination has NO place in California’s constitution, or any other,” said Spielberg. (Emphasis in original)
During the 2012 presidential campaign season, Spielberg advised the Obama re-election team on how to effectively use advertising messages to smear Republican challenger Mitt Romney as a heartless multi-millionaire who was indifferent to the troubles of ordinary folks. For example, commercials backed by Spielberg’s creative advice deceptively depicted Romney’s investment firm, Bain Capital, as an evil entity whose refusal to provide health insurance coverage for one particular woman had resulted in her dying from cancer.
Upon the release of Lincoln, Spielberg’s 2012 movie based on the Civil War-era presidency of its title character, the director suggested that during the century-and-a-half since Lincoln’s administration, Republicans had regressed dramatically in terms of their attitudes regarding race and social justice. “The parties traded political places over the last 150 years,” said Spielberg. “That in itself is a great story, how the Republican Party went from a progressive party in 1865, and how the Democrats were represented in the picture, to the way it’s just the opposite today.”
In November 2012, President Obama hosted Spielberg and actor Daniel Day-Lewis at the White House for a private screening of Lincoln. According to an August 2015 New York Times report: “Mr. Spielberg held the president spellbound … when he spoke about the use of technology to tell stories. Mr. Obama has continued those conversations, most recently with Mr. Spielberg and the studio executive Jeffrey Katzenberg over dinner at a Beverly Hills hotel in California in June…. [Obama’s] advisers said Mr. Spielberg was focused on helping to develop a ‘narrative’ for Mr. Obama in the years after he leaves office.”
During Hillary Clinton’s presidential run in 2015-16, Spielberg was among the top donors to the Priorities USA Action Super PAC campaign to elect Mrs. Clinton. As of March 2016, Spielberg had donated $1 million to that organization.
According to journalist Edward Klein, Bill Clinton at one point convinced Hillary to enlist Spielberg’s assistance in developing, with the help of acting coaches, a repertoire of speech and gesture patterns that would make her seem more likable and thereby enhance her political fortunes. The experiment ended abruptly, however, when Mrs. Clinton reportedly became frustrated with the process and angrily knocked a camera off its tripod.
As of January 2016, Spielberg had a net worth of approximately $3.6 billion.
For additional information on Steven Spielberg, click here.