(Reuters) - Hollywood director Steven Spielberg, 61, is at the Cannes film festival on Sunday with “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”.
Here are some facts on Spielberg:
* Steven Allan Spielberg was born in December 1946 in Ohio.
* He made his first short film “Amblin’” (1969). The 24-minute film impressed executives at the television unit of Universal enough to offer Spielberg a job as a TV director.
* One of his early made-for-TV movies, “Duel” (1972), starring Dennis Weaver, was shown in cinemas in Europe, where it enjoyed both critical and commercial success.
* “Jaws” (1975), was his first major success both critically and financially. Made for about $15 million, “Jaws” grossed $260 million domestically. His second success was “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” (1977), which revealed the first flowering of his cinematic obsession with the world of childhood innocence.
* Riding high after two back-to-back blockbusters, Spielberg attempted a big-budget comedy with “1941” (1979). Though it ultimately turned a profit, the film was perceived as a self-indulgent flop.
* In 1981 a humbled Spielberg chose his next project carefully by working under the watchful eye of a tough producer and one of his closest friends, George Lucas. The result was “Raiders of the Lost Ark”. The movie introduced the world to Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford).
* “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial” (1982). “E.T.” captured the hearts and minds of moviegoers of all ages and went on to become the highest-grossing film of all time until it was beaten by one of Spielberg’s own films, “Jurassic Park” in 1993.
* Regarded as a maker of mass-market films, Spielberg yearned for artistic legitimacy. He made “Schindler’s List” (1993). The story of Oskar Schindler, a German industrialist who saved more than one thousand Polish Jews during the Holocaust, it won Spielberg a first best-director Oscar.
* A year later Spielberg co-founded the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation to videotape the testimonies of Holocaust survivors.
* He returned to World War Two for “Saving Private Ryan” (1998) which was praised for its no-holds-barred depiction of war and Spielberg won his second best-director Oscar.
* In 2005 Spielberg remade the H.G. Wells sci-fi classic, “War of the Worlds” casting Tom Cruise as a working class father who must step up and protect his two children during an alien invasion. “Munich” followed, a film about Israel’s response to the killing of its athletes at the 1972 Olympic Games.
* Spielberg said in February 2008 he was withdrawing as an artistic adviser to this year’s Olympics in Beijing due to the Chinese government’s policy over conflict in Darfur.
(Editing by Keith Weir)
Writing by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit