8 little-known facts about Steven Spielberg

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8 little-known facts about Steven Spielberg

He was twice rejected from the University of Southern California’s Film School

(Photo via AP)

After moving to Southern California he unsuccessfully applied twice to USC’s Film School. He then applied to California State University, Long Beach, where he was a member of the Theta Chi fraternity. During his collegiate days he interned at Universal Studios, where he worked seven days a week as an uncredited editor. In 1994 USC awarded him an honorary degree, and in 1996 he became a trustee at the film school that once rejected him.

(Photo via AP)

His first directorial job was for a TV pilot starring Joan Crawford

(Photo via Moviestore Collection/Alamy)

In 1969, Spielberg took his first job directing the pilot to Night Gallery, a macabre NBC anthology series that ran from 1970 to 1973. One of the pilot’s segments featured famed silver screen star Joan Crawford as a wealthy blind woman. The two apparently remained friends until her death. The episode is unique in that Spielberg’s camerawork is much more stylized than in his later projects.
He turned down directing Jaws 2, King Kong and Superman to make Close Encounters of the Third Kind
After he enjoyed massive success with Jaws, Spielberg was presented with a slew of lucrative deals. He turned them all down to direct his pet sci-fi project, Close Encounter of the Third Kind, starring his friend Richard Dreyfuss. Though it was a massive critical and commercial success and solidified his career, Spielberg was disappointed with the final cut of the movie, and revisited the edit in 1980 and again in 1996.
Stanley Kubrick and Spielberg wrote A.I. in a closet through a fax machine
Kubrick started working on A.I. in the 1970s, but the project became bogged down for decades because he felt computer animation had not progressed significantly, and no child actor could successfully portray the main character. In 1995 Kubrick asked Spielberg to collaborate on the project, and they worked under a heavy cloak of secrecy. One alleged story portrayed Spielberg and Kubrick toiling in two respective closets and communicating through fax. The project continued to lag, and only picked up steam in 1999 after Kubrick’s death. The film became known for its allegorical storyline and unique take on the future.
He produced Pinky and the Brain
Since the mid 1980s Spielberg has increased the number of projects on which he serves as producer. Most surprisingly, his team was responsible for several Warner Brothers cartoons including Tiny Toon Adventures, Animaniacs and Pinky and the Brain. Spielberg also produced the full-length animated features The Land Before Time and An American Tail.
He’s an avid video gamer
Much to everyone’s surprise, the only director in Hollywood who still insists on editing on film is an avid gamer. From playing pong in 1974 on the set of Jaws, Spielberg owns a Wii, a PlayStation 3, a PSP and an Xbox 360. He apparently enjoys first-person shooter games like Medal of Honor and Call of Duty. The director has been particularly critical of cut scenes in video games, calling them intrusive and a challenge to future gamemakers.
He spent millions on rare movie memorabilia and art
In 1982, Spielberg spent $60,500 on one of the three Rosebud sleds used in the 1941 film Citizen Kane. In 1994, he purchased the only surviving copy of Orson Welles’ 1934 broadcast of The War of the Worlds. Spielberg is also a huge collector of Norman Rockwell pieces. Between him and George Lucas, they own more than 57 paintings and drawings by the American painter.

He was raised an Orthodox Jew

Spielberg was born into a highly Orthodox Jewish family in Cincinnati, Ohio. Though he eventually came to embrace his religious roots, he struggled as a child to find acceptance of his family’s Judaism: “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. My grandfather always wore a long black coat, black hat and long white beard. I was embarrassed to invite my friends over to the house, because he might be in a corner davening (praying), and I wouldn’t know how to explain this to my WASP friends.”
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By Neil Vazquez

Director Steven Spielberg's name and work have surpassed mere Hollywood celebrity to become an international brand synonymous with American moviemaking. Yet how much do you really know about the most commercially successful director in history? Check out our list of the 8 things you didn't know about Steven Spielberg above!

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