George Lucas at the German premiere of Star Wars Episode III in Berlin, Germany.
|Born:||14 May 1944 |
|Occupation:||Film Director, Film Producer|
George Walton Lucas, Jr. (born May 14, 1944) is an Academy Award nominated American film director, producer, and screenwriter famous for his epic Star Wars saga and his/Spielberg's Indiana Jones films. He is one of the American film industry's most independent, financially successful directors and producers.
George Walton Lucas Jr. was born in Modesto, California to George Walton Lucas, Sr. (1913–1991) and Dorothy Ellinore Bomberger Lucas. His father, who was mainly of British and Swiss heritage, ran a stationery store and owned a small walnut orchard. His mother was a member of a prominent Modesto family (one of her cousins is the mother of former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and director of UNICEF Ann Veneman) and was mainly of German and Scots-Irish heritage.
As a teen, Lucas was in a serious car accident. During his recovery, Lucas reevaluated his life and decided to go to college. He enrolled at Modesto Junior College, where he earned an AA degree.
George Lucas then transferred to the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts. USC was one of the earliest universities to have a school devoted to motion picture film. During the years at USC, George Lucas shared a dorm room with Randal Kleiser. New ideas regarding movie making inspired Randal Kleiser a veted and experimental interest in special effects; so that after directing acclaimed musical hit Grease, and an era iconic The Blue Lagoon, he also went on to pioneer motion picture morphing, and showed the Star Wars spirit of cinematic constructivism during a Red Riding Hood movie musical shot in 2003 featuring the first successful "on-demand" 3D virtual reality filming stage. George Lucas made many short films at USC; the first was Freiheit that included Randal Kleiser in the acting cast. Many George Lucas USC student projects had a technical and science fiction look. With them an early version of THX 1138 entitled Electronic Labyrinth THX 1138:4EB, which won first prize at the 1967-68 National Student Film Festival and later became his first full-length feature film.
After graduating with a bachelor of fine arts in film in 1967, he tried joining the United States Air Force as an officer, but was turned down because of his numerous speeding tickets. He was later drafted by the Army, but tests showed he had diabetes, the disease that killed his paternal grandfather. Lucas was prescribed medication for the disease, but his symptoms are sufficiently mild that he does not require insulin and would not be considered diabetic under the disease's current classification.
In 1967, Lucas re-enrolled as a USC graduate student in film production and was awarded a scholarship by Warner Brothers to observe the making of Finian's Rainbow (1968) which was being directed by Francis Ford Coppola.
Eventually he co-founded the studio American Zoetrope with Coppola—whom he met during the internship at Warner Brothers—hoping to create a liberating environment for filmmakers to direct outside the perceived oppressive control of the Hollywood studio system. From the financial success of his films American Graffiti (1973) and Star Wars (1977), Lucas was able to set up his own studio, Lucasfilm, in Marin County in his native Northern California. Skywalker Sound and Industrial Light and Magic, the sound and visual effects subdivisions of Lucasfilm, respectively, have become among the most respected firms in their fields. Lucasfilm Games, later renamed to LucasArts, was for many years highly regarded in the gaming industry.
Some consider Star Wars to be the first "high concept" film, although others feel the first was Steven Spielberg's Jaws, released two years prior. Lucas and Spielberg had been good friends for some time and eventually worked together on several films, notably the first Indiana Jones vehicle, Raiders of the Lost Ark in 1981.
On a return on investment basis, Star Wars proved to be one of the most successful films of all time. During the filming of Star Wars, Lucas waived his up front fee as director and negotiated to own the licensing rights—rights which the studio thought were nearly worthless. This decision earned him hundreds of millions of dollars as he was able to directly profit from all the licensed games, toys and collectibles created for the franchise. In 2006 Forbes Magazine estimated Lucas' personal wealth at US$3.5 billion. In 2005 Forbes.com estimated the lifetime revenue generated by the Star Wars franchise at nearly $20 billion.
On October 3, 1994, Lucas started to write the three Star Wars prequels, and on November 1 that year, he left the day-to-day operations of his filmmaking business and started a sabbatical to finish the prequels.
The American Film Institute awarded Lucas its Life Achievement Award for 2005. He received the award on June 9, 2005. This was awarded shortly after the release of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, which he jokingly made reference to in his acceptance speech, stating that, since he views the entire Star Wars series as one movie, that he could be given the award now that he had finally "gone back and finished [the] movie."
On June 5, 2005, Lucas was named 100th "Greatest American" by the Discovery Channel.
In 1969, Lucas married film editor Marcia Lou Griffin, who went on to win an Oscar for her work on the original (fourth) Star Wars film. They adopted a daughter, Amanda, in 1981, and divorced in 1983. Lucas has since adopted two more children: Katie, born in 1988, and Jett, born in 1993. All three of his children have appeared in the prequels. Lucas had also been in a long relationship with country singer Linda Ronstadt.
In 2005, Lucas gave $10 Million USD to help build the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial on the National Mall in Washington D.C. to commemorate American civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. 
Lucas was nominated for four Academy Awards: Best Directing and Writing for American Graffiti, and Best Directing and Writing for Star Wars. He also received the Academy's Irving G. Thalberg Award in 1991.
On September 19, 2006, USC announced that George Lucas had donated $175 million to his alma mater to expand the film school. It is the largest single donation to USC.
On September 20, George Lucas was announced the Grand Marshal for the 2007 Rose Parade.
He recently announced that he would produce a TV series about Star Wars which would take place between episodes III and IV.
Student at USC (1965 to 1968)
Pre-Star Wars (1971 to 1973)
The birth of Star Wars (1977 to 1983)
Post-Original Trilogy (1984 to 1994)
The return of Star Wars (1999 to 2005)
Post-Star Wars (present)
Cameos in films and TV