Steven Spielberg…

was born on this date in 1946. The Writer’s Almanac has an interesting biographical essay.

It’s the birthday of Steven Spielberg, born in Cincinnati, Ohio (1946). Even as a child, he knew he wanted to make movies. When he was 13 years old, he won a contest with a 40-minute film called Escape to Nowhere. When he was 16, he produced a movie called Firelight that made a $100 profit at the local movie theater. He wanted to study film at the University of Southern California, but the film school rejected him, so he went to California State University in Long Beach and majored in English. One day, he was taking a tour of Universal Studios when he slipped by security, found an abandoned janitors’ closet, cleaned it up, and turned it into an office. He discovered that if he wore a suit and tie he could walk right past the security guards at the front gate, and he began coming in to his makeshift office every day. While he was there, he started making a short silent movie called Amblin’. It caught the attention of some Universal executives, and he began to make TV movies. His first real breakthrough was Duel (1971), a suspenseful thriller about a man in a small car being terrorized by a man in a large truck for no apparent reason. It came out on TV in the U.S. and in theaters in Europe. Four years later, he directed Jaws (1975), one of the most successful movies ever made.

Spielberg’s parents divorced when he was a child, after years of intense arguing. Many of his movies deal with the relationships between parents and children, especially fathers and sons. In Close Encounter of the Third Kind (1977), children and parents are abducted from their homes. In E.T. (1982), Elliott befriends an alien, in part to make up for the loss of his father. And in the more recent film Catch Me if you Can (2002), the main character runs away from home and becomes a con man after his parents announce their plans to divorce.

Spielberg said, “I dream for a living.”