|Birth Day:||May 14, 1944|
|Birth Place:||Modesto, United States|
Director and producer who is best known for creating the groundbreaking science fiction franchise Star Wars. He first received acclaim for his 1973 coming of age film American Graffiti and he also created the action hero Indiana Jones, most famously portrayed by Harrison Ford in the original 1980's trilogy.
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He studied anthropology at Modesto Junior College, then transferred to the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts. He attempted to join the U.S. Air Force after graduation but they wouldn't accept him because of a number of speeding tickets on his record, so instead he re-enrolled at USC as a graduate student in film production.
Lucas was born and raised in Modesto, California, the son of Dorothy Ellinore Lucas (née Bomberger) and George Walton Lucas Sr., and is of German, Swiss-German, English, Scottish, and distant Dutch and French descent. His family attended Disneyland during its opening week in July 1955, and Lucas would remain enthusiastic about the park. He was interested in comics and science fiction, including television programs such as the Flash Gordon serials. Long before Lucas began making films, he yearned to be a racecar driver, and he spent most of his high school years racing on the underground circuit at fairgrounds and hanging out at garages. On June 12, 1962, a few days before his high school graduation, Lucas was driving his souped-up Autobianchi Bianchina when another driver broadsided him, flipping his car several times before it crashed into a tree; Lucas's seatbelt had snapped, ejecting him and thereby saving his life. However, his lungs were bruised from severe hemorrhaging and he required emergency medical treatment. This incident caused him to lose interest in racing as a career, but also inspired him to pursue his other interests.
After graduating with a bachelor of fine arts in film in 1967, he tried joining the United States Air Force as an officer, but he was immediately turned down because of his numerous speeding tickets. He was later drafted by the Army for military service in Vietnam, but he was exempted from service after medical tests showed he had diabetes, the disease that killed his paternal grandfather.
In 1967, Lucas re-enrolled as a USC graduate student in film production. He began working under Verna Fields for the United States Information Agency, where he met his future wife Marcia Griffin. Working as a teaching instructor for a class of U.S. Navy students who were being taught documentary cinematography, Lucas directed the short film Electronic Labyrinth: THX 1138 4EB, which won first prize at the 1967–68 National Student film festival. Lucas was awarded a student scholarship by Warner Bros. to observe and work on the making of a film of his choosing. The film he chose was Finian's Rainbow (1968) which was being directed by Francis Ford Coppola, who was revered among film school students of the time as a cinema graduate who had "made it" in Hollywood. In 1969, Lucas was one of the camera operators on the classic Rolling Stones concert film Gimme Shelter.
In 1969, Lucas co-founded the studio American Zoetrope with Coppola, hoping to create a liberating environment for filmmakers to direct outside the perceived oppressive control of the Hollywood studio system. Coppola thought Lucas's Electronic Labyrinth could be adapted into his first full-length feature film, which was produced by American Zoetrope as THX 1138, but was not a success. Lucas then created his own company, Lucasfilm, Ltd., and directed the successful American Graffiti (1973).
In 1969, Lucas married film editor Marcia Lou Griffin, who went on to win an Academy Award for her editing work on the original Star Wars film. They adopted a daughter, Amanda Lucas, in 1981, and divorced in 1983. Lucas subsequently adopted two more children as a single parent: daughter Katie Lucas, born in 1988, and son Jett Lucas, born in 1993. His three eldest children all appeared in the three Star Wars prequels, as did Lucas himself. Following his divorce, Lucas was in a relationship with singer Linda Ronstadt in the 1980s.
The animation studio Pixar was founded in 1979 as the Graphics Group, one third of the Computer Division of Lucasfilm. Pixar's early computer graphics research resulted in groundbreaking effects in films such as Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Young Sherlock Holmes, and the group was purchased in 1986 by Steve Jobs shortly after he left Apple Computer. Jobs paid Lucas US$5 million and put US$5 million as capital into the company. The sale reflected Lucas' desire to stop the cash flow losses from his 7-year research projects associated with new entertainment technology tools, as well as his company's new focus on creating entertainment products rather than tools. As of June 1983, Lucas was worth US$60 million, but he met cash-flow difficulties following his divorce that year, concurrent with the sudden dropoff in revenues from Star Wars licenses following the theatrical run of Return of the Jedi. At this point, Lucas had no desire to return to Star Wars, and had unofficially canceled the sequel trilogy.
Also in 1983, Lucas and Tomlinson Holman founded the audio company THX Ltd. The company was formerly owned by Lucasfilm, and contains equipment for stereo, digital, and theatrical sound for films, and music. Skywalker Sound and Industrial Light & Magic, are the sound and visual effects subdivisions of Lucasfilm, while Lucasfilm Games, later renamed LucasArts, produces products for the gaming industry.
Having lost much of his fortune in a divorce settlement in 1987, Lucas was reluctant to return to Star Wars. However, the prequels, which were still only a series of basic ideas partially pulled from his original drafts of "The Star Wars", continued to tantalize him with technical possibilities that would make it worthwhile to revisit his older material. When Star Wars became popular once again, in the wake of Dark Horse's comic book line and Timothy Zahn's trilogy of spin-off novels, Lucas realized that there was still a large audience. His children were older, and with the explosion of CGI technology he began to consider directing once again.
In 1991, The George Lucas Educational Foundation was founded as a nonprofit operating foundation to celebrate and encourage innovation in schools. The Foundation's content is available under the brand Edutopia, in an award-winning web site, social media and via documentary films. Lucas, through his foundation, was one of the leading proponents of the E-rate program in the universal service fund, which was enacted as part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. On June 24, 2008, Lucas testified before the United States House of Representatives subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet as the head of his Foundation to advocate for a free wireless broadband educational network.
Lucas was nominated for four Academy Awards: Best Directing and Writing for American Graffiti and Star Wars. He received the Academy's Irving G. Thalberg Award in 1991. He appeared at the 79th Academy Awards ceremony in 2007 with Steven Spielberg and Francis Ford Coppola to present the Best Director award to their friend Martin Scorsese. During the speech, Spielberg and Coppola talked about the joy of winning an Oscar, making fun of Lucas, who has not won a competitive Oscar.
By 1993, it was announced, in Variety among other sources, that Lucas would be making the prequels. He began penning more to the story, indicating that the series would be a tragic one, examining Anakin Skywalker's fall to the dark side. Lucas also began to change the prequels status relative to the originals; at first, they were supposed to be a "filling-in" of history tangential to the originals, but now he saw that they could form the beginning of one long story that started with Anakin's childhood and ended with his death. This was the final step towards turning the film series into a "Saga". In 1994, Lucas began work on the screenplay of the first prequel, tentatively titled Episode I: The Beginning.
In 1997, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Star Wars, Lucas returned to the original trilogy and made numerous modifications using newly available digital technology, releasing them in theaters as the Star Wars Special Edition. For DVD releases in 2004 and Blu-ray releases in 2011, the trilogy received further revisions to make them congruent with the prequel trilogy. Besides the additions to the Star Wars franchise, Lucas released a Director's Cut of THX 1138 in 2004, with the film re-cut and containing a number of CGI revisions.
The first Star Wars prequel was finished and released in 1999 as Episode I – The Phantom Menace, which would be the first film Lucas had directed in over two decades. Following the release of the first prequel, Lucas announced that he would also be directing the next two, and began working on Episode II. The first draft of Episode II was completed just weeks before principal photography, and Lucas hired Jonathan Hales, a writer from The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, to polish it. It was completed and released in 2002 as Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones. The final prequel, Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, began production in 2002 and was released in 2005. Numerous fans and critics considered the prequels inferior to the original trilogy, though they were box office successes.
In 2005, Lucas gave US$1 million to help build the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the National Mall in Washington D.C. to commemorate American civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.
The American Film Institute awarded Lucas its Life Achievement Award on June 9, 2005. This was shortly after the release of Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, about which he joked stating that, since he views the entire Star Wars series as one film, he could actually receive the award now that he had finally "gone back and finished the movie."
On September 19, 2006, USC announced that Lucas had donated $175–180 million to his alma mater to expand the film school. It is the largest single donation to USC and the largest gift to a film school anywhere. Previous donations led to the already-existing George Lucas Instructional Building and Marcia Lucas Post-Production building.
Lucas began dating Mellody Hobson, president of Ariel Investments and chair of DreamWorks Animation, in 2006. Lucas and Hobson announced their engagement in January 2013, and married on June 22, 2013, at Lucas's Skywalker Ranch in Marin County, California. They have one daughter together, born via gestational carrier in August 2013.
The Science Fiction Hall of Fame inducted Lucas in 2006, its second "Film, Television, and Media" contributor, after Spielberg. The Discovery Channel named him one of the 100 "Greatest Americans" in September 2008. Lucas served as Grand Marshal for the Tournament of Roses Parade and made the ceremonial coin toss at the Rose Bowl, New Year's Day 2007. In 2009, he was one of 13 California Hall of Fame inductees in The California Museum's yearlong exhibit.
In 2012, Lucas served as executive producer for Red Tails, a war film based on the exploits of the Tuskegee Airmen during World War II. He also took over direction of reshoots while director Anthony Hemingway worked on other projects.
In January 2012, Lucas announced his retirement from producing large blockbuster films and instead re-focusing his career on smaller, independently budgeted features.
In June 2012, it was announced that producer Kathleen Kennedy, a long-term collaborator with Steven Spielberg and a producer of the Indiana Jones films, had been appointed as co-chair of Lucasfilm Ltd. It was reported that Kennedy would work alongside Lucas, who would remain chief executive and serve as co-chairman for at least one year, after which she would succeed him as the company's sole leader. With the sale of Lucasfilm to Disney, Lucas is currently Disney's second largest single shareholder after the estate of Steve Jobs.
In 2012, Lucas sold Lucasfilm to The Walt Disney Company for a reported sum of $4.05 billion. It was widely reported at the time that Lucas intends to give the majority of the proceeds from the sale to charity. A spokesperson for Lucasfilm said, "George Lucas has expressed his intention, in the event the deal closes, to donate the majority of the proceeds to his philanthropic endeavors." Lucas also spoke on the matter: "For 41 years, the majority of my time and money has been put into the company. As I start a new chapter in my life, it is gratifying that I have the opportunity to devote more time and resources to philanthropy."
By June 2013, Lucas was considering establishing a museum, the Lucas Cultural Arts Museum, to be built on Crissy Field near the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, which would display his collection of illustrations and pop art, with an estimated value of more than $1 billion. Lucas offered to pay the estimated $300 million cost of constructing the museum, and would endow it with $400 million when it opened, eventually adding an additional $400 million to its endowment. After being unable to reach an agreement with The Presidio Trust, Lucas turned to Chicago. A potential lakefront site on Museum Campus in Chicago was proposed in May 2014. By June 2014, Chicago had been selected, pending approval of the Chicago Plan Commission, which was granted. The museum project was renamed the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art. On June 24, 2016, Lucas announced that he was abandoning his plans to locate the museum in Chicago, due to a lawsuit by a local preservation group, Friends of the Parks, and would instead build the museum in California. On January 17, 2017, Lucas announced that the museum will be constructed in Exposition Park, Los Angeles California.
In 2013, Lucas and his wife Mellody Hobson donated $25 million to the Chicago-based not-for-profit After School Matters, of which Hobson is the chair.
In July 2013, Lucas was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Barack Obama for his contributions to American cinema.
In October 2014, Lucas received Honorary Membership of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers.
Lucas worked as a creative consultant on the Star Wars sequel trilogy's first film, The Force Awakens. As creative consultant on the film, Lucas' involvement included attending early story meetings; according to Lucas, "I mostly say, 'You can't do this. You can do that.' You know, 'The cars don't have wheels. They fly with antigravity.' There's a million little pieces ... I know all that stuff." Lucas' son Jett told The Guardian that his father was "very torn" about having sold the rights to the franchise, despite having hand-picked Abrams to direct, and that his father was "there to guide" but that "he wants to let it go and become its new generation." Among the materials turned over to the production team were rough story treatments Lucas developed when he considered creating episodes VII–IX himself years earlier; in January 2015, Lucas stated that Disney had discarded his story ideas.
The Force Awakens, directed by J. J. Abrams, was released on December 18, 2015. Kathleen Kennedy executive produced the film and its sequels. The new sequel trilogy was jointly produced by Lucasfilm and The Walt Disney Company, which had acquired Lucasfilm in 2012. During an interview with talk show host and journalist Charlie Rose that aired on December 24, 2015, Lucas likened his decision to sell Lucasfilm to Disney to a divorce and outlined the creative differences between him and the producers of The Force Awakens. Lucas described the previous six Star Wars films as his "children" and defended his vision for them, while criticizing The Force Awakens for having a "retro feel", saying, "I worked very hard to make them completely different, with different planets, with different spaceships – you know, to make it new." Lucas also drew some criticism and subsequently apologized for his remark likening Disney to "white slavers".
In 2015, Lucas wrote the CGI film Strange Magic, his first musical. The film was produced at Skywalker Ranch. Gary Rydstrom directed the movie. At the same time the sequel trilogy was announced a fifth installment of the Indiana Jones series also entered pre-development phase with Harrison Ford and Steven Spielberg set to return. Lucas originally did not specify whether the selling of Lucasfilm would affect his involvement with the film. In October 2016, Lucas announced his decision to not be involved in the story of the film, but would remain an executive producer. In 2016, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the first film of a Star Wars anthology series was released. It told the story of the rebels who stole the plans for the Death Star featured in the original Star Wars film, and it was reported that Lucas liked it more than The Force Awakens. The Last Jedi, the second film in the sequel trilogy, was released in 2017; Lucas described the film as "beautifully made".
In August 2015, Lucas was inducted as a Disney Legend, and on December 6, 2015, he was an honoree at the Kennedy Center Honors.
On April 15, 2016, it was reported that Lucas had donated between $501,000 and $1 million through the Lucas Family Foundation to the Obama Foundation, which is charged with overseeing the construction of the Barack Obama Presidential Center on Chicago's South Side.
Lucas has had cursory involvement with Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018), the Star Wars streaming series The Mandalorian, and the premiere of the eighth season of Game of Thrones. Lucas met with J. J. Abrams before the latter began writing the script to the sequel trilogy's final film, The Rise of Skywalker, which was released in 2019.
Currently, George Lucas is 78 years, 4 months and 11 days old. George Lucas will celebrate 79th birthday on a Sunday 14th of May 2023.
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