Founder of Lucasfilm (View Profile)
George Lucas was born to parents George Walton, Jr. and Dorothy Ellinore on May 14, 1944 in Modesto, California. He initially wanted to be a race-car driver, but a fateful incident on June 12, 1962 caused him to lose interest when he almost died during an accident while racing.
He went to Modesto Junior College and studied anthropology, sociology and literature. Using an 8 mm camera, he began making films which included car races.
Together with his friend John Plummer, he grew interest in Canyon Cinema. They also saw classic European films together. And as per Plummer, “That’s was when George really started exploring.” Lucas soon met cinematographer Haskell Wexler who became impressed with his eye for good visual images.
He moved to University of South Carolina School of Cinematic Arts since it was one of the best universities dedicated to motion picture film. He became friends with Randal Kleiser, Walter Murch, Hal Barwood, and John Milius and they were soon known as the Dirty Dozen. There he also met Steven Spielberg. He developed deep interest about Filmic Expression – a study whereby non-narrative elements such as light, color, movement and space where the focus in a film. He was also greatly influenced by Slavko Vorkapich, a Serbian film theoretician.
In 1967, he graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree of Fine Arts in Film. He tried joining the United States Air Force but his many speeding tickets disqualified him. He came back to school to study film production as a graduate student. He earned a scholarship from Warner Bros. to work on any film he’d like. He decided to be under Francis Ford Coppola during his filming of Finian’s Rainbow in 1968. 1969 was a big break for him when he became a camera operator in the classic concert film Gimme Shelter by the Rolling Stones.
Together with Coppola, he founded the American Zoetrope. He soon created the Lucasfilm, Ltd. He had his share of difficulties when he made Star Wars with Fox Studios, but it all paid off when it became the highest grossing film of all time. With this success, Lucas also earned hundreds of millions for the merchandising rights he negotiated with Fox.
In the next 20 years, Lucas concentrated on writing and producing films, and made for TV movies which are mostly Star Wars spin-offs. Pixar, an animation studio, was set-up by Lucasfilm. This was bought by Steve Jobs in 1986 for $5 million.
In January 2012, Lucas announced that he will focus more on small, budget features.
Lucas was also known for his charity projects. Notable of which are the George Lucas Educational Foundation in 1991. He also donated $5 million for the creation of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial. On September 19, 2006, he gave his alma mater $175-$180 million to grow the film school. He also joined Bill Gates and Warren Buffet in “The Giving Pledge.”
He was given the Lifetime Achievement Award on June 29, 2005 by the American Film Institute. Discovery Channel named him as among the 100 Greatest Americans on June 5, 2005.
According to Forbes, George Lucas’ net worth is at $3.3 billion.