AKA George Walton Lucas Jr.
Birthplace: Modesto, CA
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Film Director
Party Affiliation: Democratic
Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Creator of Star Wars
As a teenager, George Lucas was a terrible student and a total gearhead carfreak. He wanted to be a NASCAR driver, but had a change of heart after surviving a drag-racing accident that, he says, "in theory, no one could survive".
As a film student at USC, he made a 15-minute science-fiction film called THX 1138 4EB: The Electronic Labyrinth. It won first prize at the 1967-68 National Student Film Festival, and led to probably the biggest break of Lucas's career -- an invitation from Warner Bros. not to make a feature film, but just to watch a film being made. It was Finian's Rainbow, a musical starring Fred Astaire and Petula Clark, and directed by Francis Ford Coppola five years before he would make The Godfather. Coppola must have liked Lucas's combination of "gee whiz" and "sure, I'll get you a cup of coffee", as the two young men came away friends. They started their own studio, American Zoetrope, in 1969, and it was funding from Zoetrope and Coppola that helped Lucas remake his student film as a 1971 feature, THX 1138, starring Robert Duvall and Donald Pleasence.
THX 1138 didn't do well at the box office, but in 1972 Coppola's The Godfather did. And after that, Coppola used his clout to help Lucas get studio and financial backing for a dramatic comedy about growing up in the early 1960s, which Lucas co-wrote and directed. American Graffiti was a mammoth hit in 1973, kickstarting the careers of Richard Dreyfuss, Ron Howard, Cindy Williams, Harrison Ford, and of course, George Lucas.
Lucas then wrote and directed Star Wars, the campy space fantasy that redefined "blockbuster". Shortly after the film opened, he went on a Hawaiian vacation with buddy Steven Spielberg, and told Spielberg about his next big idea. It would be an action film à la James Bond, but with an archaeologist instead of spies. Lucas didn't want to direct it, though, and Spielberg immediately volunteered. Their collaboration, Raiders of the Lost Ark, was another instant classic and giant hit. After the success of the original Star Wars, Lucas often spoke of his grand vision of a trilogy of Star Wars trilogies -- nine films in three separate three-part sagas. But after directing the first Star Wars threesome, he effectively retired from directing films, and recast himself as writer, producer, and movie mogul.
As Chairman of the Board at his own studio, Lucasfilm Ltd., Lucas became one of giants of the movie industry. Lucasfilm owns Industrial Light and Magic, the myriad-Oscar-winning special effects company, and Skywalker Sound, the pioneering sound effects, sound editing, and sound design firm. Lucas's THX theater sound system uses special equipment and on-site certification in your local cineplex to deliver ear-poppingly precise sound. Lucas also runs LucasArts Entertainment Company LLC, Lucas Digital Ltd. LLC., Lucas Licensing Ltd., and Lucas Learning Ltd.
As executive producer, Lucas delivered the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises, and takes the credit or blame for films like More American Graffiti, Labyrinth, Willow, The Land Before Time, The Radioland Murders, and Tucker: The Man and His Dream.
Twenty-two years passed after Lucas directed the original Star Wars, until he directed 1999's prequel, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. During those years Lucas had directed nothing but a music video or two, and his rustiness showed. Phantom Menace made huge piles of money, but many fans were disappointed by its listless story, wooden acting, and a cartoonish computer-generated character called Jar-Jar Binks. He directed and co-wrote the subsequent sequels, Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, which were generally considered better than Phantom Menace, with tighter scripts and stellar box office takes.
None of the latter three films quite measured up to the first three, but Lucas set the bar very high -- few films are as good as American Graffiti or the original Star Wars. After the second trilogy, Lucas stopped speaking of making a third Star Wars trilogy, and in a 2007 interview he said, "I've left pretty explicit instructions for there not to be any more features. There will definitely be no Episodes 7-9. That's because there isn't any story. I mean, I never thought of anything." In 2012 he sold Lucasfilm to the Disney Corporation for some $4B; Disney immediately announced plans to manufacture more Star Wars movies, and will no doubt continue churning them out for as long as audiences continue buying tickets.
Lucas has never given a straight answer to explain the oddball acronym, THX 1138, but fans and geeks suspect it was his phone number (849-1138) as a young man. Whatever the meaning, it's become a recurring "signature" in his films. In addition to the THX sound system, Princess Leia is held prisoner in cell block 1138 in the original Star Wars, and dialogue in The Empire Strikes Back mentions sending "rogues 10 and 11 to station 3-8". It's also a license plate number in American Graffiti (actually THX 138), an airplane's stenciled wing number in Raiders of the Lost Ark, and so on.
Father: George Walton Lucas (office supply retailer, d. 1991)
Mother: Dorothy Bomberger (d. 1988)
Wife: Marcia Griffin (film editor, m. 22-Feb-1969, div. 1983, two daughters, one son)
Daughter: Amanda Lucas (martial arts fighter, b. 1981)
Daughter: Katherine Lucas (b. 1988)
Son: Jett Lucas (b. 1993)
Girlfriend: Melody Hobson (investment manager, together since 2006)
High School: Downey High School, Modesto, CA (1962)
University: AA, Modesto Junior College (1964)
University: BFA Film, University of Southern California (1967)
Lucasfilm Founder (1971-)
Industrial Light & Magic Founder (1975-)
Academy of Achievement (1989)
Obama for America
Oscar (honorary) 1992 Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award
American Film Institute Life Achievement Award 2005
Grand Marshal of the Tournament of Roses 2007
Visited Disneyland Captain EO premiere (Sep-1986)
Visited Disneyland Star Tours premiere (9-Jan-1987)
Risk Factors: Diabetes
FILMOGRAPHY AS DIRECTOR
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (18-May-2005)
Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (16-May-2002)
Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (19-May-1999)
Star Wars (25-May-1977)
American Graffiti (11-Aug-1973)
FILMOGRAPHY AS ACTOR
Side by Side (Feb-2012) · Himself
Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist and Rebel (12-Sep-2009) · Himself
Tell Them Who You Are (11-Sep-2004) · Himself
Easy Riders, Raging Bulls (18-Jan-2003) · Himself
Beverly Hills Cop III (25-May-1994) · Disappointed Man
Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse (May-1991) · Himself
Here's Looking at You, Warner Bros. (1991) · Himself
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