The following biography
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 Indiana Jones films. He is one of the
American film industry's most independent, financially successful directors and
George Walton Lucas Jr. was born in Modesto,
California to George Walton Lucas, Sr. (1913–1991) and Dorothy Ellinore
Bomberger Lucas (1913–1989). 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.
Lucas graduated from Thomas Downey High School in
1962, where he had been an indifferent student at best and dreamed of becoming a
professional race car driver. That early dream ended June 12, 1962, when he
crashed his Bianchina. The car was broadsided while he tried to make a left turn
into his driveway. The car rolled; the racing harness that he had installed
snapped, and he was thrown from the car. Had the harness not snapped—and Lucas
has said it shouldn't have—he would most likely have been crushed to death by
the steering column when the car smashed into a walnut tree. (The force of the
impact uprooted the tree).
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 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 (the complete title was "Electronic Labyrinth THX 1138 4EB")
that later became his first full-length feature film.
After graduating with a bachelor of fine arts in
film in 1966, he tried joining the 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.
Eventually he co-founded the studio American
Zoetrope with Francis Ford Coppola whom he met during an 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.
Star Wars is considered by some 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 2004 Forbes Magazine estimated Lucas' personal wealth at $3
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
The American Film Institute awarded Lucas its
Lifetime 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 1999, George Lucas sued Dr. Dre for sampling
THX's theme sound in his album 2001.
In 2005, Lucas gave $1 million 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 Grafitti, 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 USD 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 2006 Rose Parade.
Besides his directorial and production work on
movies, Lucas is the most significant contemporary contributor to modern movie
technology. In 1975 Lucas established Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) in Van
Nuys, CA, which was responsible for the invention of the special computer
assisted camera crane "Dykstraflex" (named after special effects innovator, John
Dykstra) that was used for most of the space fight sequences used in the Star
Wars movies (technology which was later adopted by most other visual effects
production units, such as those responsible for Battlestar Galactica and Star
Trek: The Next Generation). Through ILM, Lucas spurred the further development
of computer graphics, film laser scanners and the earliest use of 3D computer
character animation in a film, Young Sherlock Holmes. Lucas sold his early
computer development unit to Steve Jobs in 1986, which was renamed Pixar.
Lucas is also responsible for the modern sound
systems found in many movie theaters. Although Lucas didn't invent THX, he is
responsible for its development. The acronym ostensibly stands for "Tomlinson
Holman eXperiment" after its chief engineer, however, it is obviously a
reference to Lucas' first film THX 1138.
Now Lucas is spearheading digital cinematography
for movies. Though personal digital photography is now mainstream, most movie
studios still use traditional cameras and film for movie production. Lucas
departed from this model by filming Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones
almost completely digitally. He showed the result to a select audience of the
Hollywood elite, before the movie's general release. For the presentation, Lucas
used a special digital projection system. The attendees said the movie had the
clearest and sharpest presentation they had ever seen.
Despite the successful demonstration of the
technology, movie studios are slow to move to this new model, in part because of
the high price of the digital equipment.
Lucas' interest in education also led to the
creation of The George Lucas Educational Foundation (GLEF) in 1991. The
multi-faceted foundation produces Edutopia, a magazine and web site that
highlight the stories and people driving innovation in education.
Student at USC (1965 to 1968)
Look at Life (1965)
The Emperor (1967)
Electronic Labyrinth THX 1138:4EB (1967)
Anyone Lived in a Pretty How Town (1967)
Pre-Star Wars (1971 to 1973)
THX 1138 (1971) (director, co-writer)
American Graffiti (1973) (director, co-writer)
The birth of Star Wars (1977 to 1983)
Star Wars (1977) (director, writer, executive
The Star Wars Holiday Special (1978) (story)
More American Graffiti (1979) (executive producer)
Kagemusha also known as The Shadow Warrior (1980)
(Executive Producer of International Edition)
The Empire Strikes Back (1980) (executive producer,
co-writer, uncredited co-director)
Body Heat (1981) (uncredited executive producer)
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) (co-writer,
executive producer, uncredited second unit director)
Twice Upon a Time (1982) (executive producer)
Return of the Jedi (1983) (executive producer,
co-writer, uncredited co-director)
Post-Original Trilogy (1984 to 1994)
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)
(co-writer, executive producer)
Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure (1984)
(executive producer, story)
Ewoks: The Battle for Endor (1985) (executive
Mishima (1985) (executive producer)
Howard the Duck (1986) (executive producer)
Labyrinth (1986) (executive producer)
Captain Eo (1986) (producer, screenplay)
Powaqqatsi (1988) (executive producer)
Willow (1988) (writer, executive producer)
Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1988) (executive
The Land Before Time (1988) (executive producer)
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
(co-writer, executive producer)
The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles (1992 - 1996)
(story, executive producer)
Radioland Murders (1994) (co-writer, executive
The return of Star Wars (1999 to 2005)
Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999)
(director, writer, executive producer)
Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002)
(director, co-writer, executive producer)
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)
(director, writer, executive producer, actor)
Post-Star Wars (Present)
Red Tails (2008)
Indiana Jones 4 (2008) (story, executive producer)
Cameos in films
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) (Cameo
as "Tourist boarding plane")
Hook (1991) (Cameo as "Man kissing on bridge")
Beverly Hills Cop III (1994) (Cameo as
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)
(Cameo as "Baron Papanoida")
George Lucas cameos in a video with Jamie Kennedy,
Stu Stone and Bob Saget, a song "Rollin' With Saget" from the MTV show Blowin'
George was parodied as "Randall Curtis" on The
A noted fan of Mel Brooks, he gave permission to
Mel Brooks to film Spaceballs (a parody of many aspects of Star Wars and the
science fiction genre in general) after reading a copy of the script Brooks had
Made a cameo appearance in Star Wars Episode III:
Revenge of the Sith at the insistence of his daughter. He appeared in the opera
scene, near Palpatine. This is his only appearance in any of the Star Wars
In 1976, Lucas published a novelization of A New
Hope, which was initially (like the film) titled just Star Wars. Although Lucas
was credited as author of the book, it was later revealed that the book was
actually ghost written by Alan Dean Foster, who would also write Splinter of the
Mind's Eye, the first original Star Wars novel and, in many respects, the first
Star Wars sequel.
As a tribute to his first film, THX-1138, it is
said that each of his films (most notably the Star Wars saga) contains the
number 1138 hidden as an Easter egg, and each of his movies are also made with
the sound company, THX. It is also rumored that while growing up in California,
the last seven digits of his home telephone number were 849-1138, where the 849
corresponds with the letters THX on a standard telephone.
Stood as a financial guarantor on his friend
Willard Huyck's film adaptation of the Howard the Duck comics and was credited
as 'Executive Producer' for the service despite having no involvement in the
film's production and never visiting the set. The film is often referred to as a
Lucas 'bomb' despite his lack of tangible involvement, although he has made
attempts to distance himself from the film.
Lucas credits his friend John Milius with
introducing him to the films of Japanese director Akira Kurosawa, whose works
(particularly Seven Samurai and The Hidden Fortress) inspired the Star Wars
films. For example, The Hidden Fortress includes two ubiquitous and sometimes
humorous infantry soldiers who are said to have inspired R2-D2 and C-3PO; an
aging master samurai on a quest to deliver a princess back to her people, said
to be the inspiration for Obi-Wan Kenobi and Princess Leia in Star Wars; and the
hidden fortress itself, belonging to the princess's people, which the dominant
clan is trying to find and destroy, said to inspire the rebel base on Yavin and
the Empire's quest to find and destroy it in Star Wars. He would later repay the
favor by signing on (along with Francis Ford Coppola) as executive producer for
Kurosawa's film Kagemusha.
Inspired by Buddhist monk Bhante Dharmawara, Yoda
was created with him in mind, although physically the Jedi Master was based upon
Albert Einstein and model maker Stuart Freeborn.
Lucas also based his Star Wars films on the
scholarship of Joseph Campbell, particularly Campbell's 1949 text, The Hero with
a Thousand Faces, which deals with the idea of common elements across hero
mythologies in many or all human cultures. These include, for example, the hero
being called on a quest, the hero initially being reluctant to go but then
receiving new motivation by unfolding events, the hero being guided by a wise
elder who cannot remain to help the hero, and the hero wielding a magic or
shining sword; all elements incorporated into the story of Luke Skywalker in
Star Wars. Campbell's publisher returned the favor by depicting an image of Mark
Hamill as Luke Skywalker alongside mythological heroes such as Gilgamesh and
Odysseus on the cover of a later edition of The Hero with a Thousand Faces .
Lucas was also involved in the creation of the 1988 documentary which explored
the works of Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth. The series of 6 one hour
interviews between Campbell and journalist Bill Moyers, was filmed at Lucas'
Skywalker Ranch. In the first episode, Moyers discusses Campbell's friendship
with Lucas and the impact of his scholarship on Lucas' Star Wars films (episodes
IV,V, and VI) . Twelve years later, in 1999, Lucas and Moyers reunited to
make the documentary Mythology of Star Wars with George Lucas & Bill Moyers
in which they discussed their memories of Campbell and his influence. In
addition, the National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution
sponsored an exhibit during the late 1990s called Star Wars: The Magic of Myth
which discussed the ways in which Campbell's work shaped the Star Wars films
. A companion guide of the same name was published in 1997.
Lucas was raised as a Methodist but now states that
he is "Spiritual" 
In his spare time, Lucas enjoys playing Star Wars
video games with his children. He has also been known to read some of the Star
Wars comic books, including Dark Empire. At one point, Lucas even said that he
liked the story presented in the Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire multimedia
project so much, that if he had had the story in the 80's, he might have
produced a film based on the events in it.
Friend Steven Spielberg called Lucas a pure
independent filmmaker, as Lucas is very ensconced in Northern California in
Marin County and the San Francisco area, and actively rejects the institutions
He based the character of Han Solo on his friend
Francis Ford Coppola.
The characters of Indiana Jones and Chewbacca the
Wookie were inspired by his ex-wife's dog, an Alaskan Malamute named Indiana.
His nickname in high school was Luke. This later
became the name of the hero of his original Star Wars trilogy, Luke Skywalker.
Sold Lucasfilm's Computer Graphics Division (by
then named Pixar) to Apple Computer co-founder Steve Jobs. It eventually became
Pixar Animation Studios.
Appeared as himself in a cameo in an episode of the
O.C. ("The O.Sea", aired May 12, 2005).
Appeared in a cameo in Beverly Hills Cop III.
Made as an action figure in 2002 with the name
"Jorg Sacul." In 2006, a toy based on his appearance in Revenge of the Sith was
created, as well as a mail-away special figure of George Lucas in Stormtrooper
disguise. Jorg obviously reflects his first name. Sacul is Lucas backwards.
Never attended his high school prom.
The producers of Superman offered Lucas the chance
to direct but declined saying he didn't think he could do a good job with the
Lucas is known for protecting his franchise to
which the invocation and/or appropriation of his creations by third parties has
led to court battles - especially against hip-hop musicians Luther Campbell (for
appropriating Luke Skywalker (spelled Skyywalker) for his stage name and record
company) and Dr. Dre (for sampling the THX theme).
In 1969, Lucas was hired to shoot the Rolling
Stones in concert at the Altamont Music Festival.
Made 400 million dollars total from Star wars
Episode 1 The Phantom Menace
1 2005 AFI Life Achievement Award: A Tribute to
George Lucas on USA Network
2 Stuart Silverstein, George Lucas Donates USC's
Largest Single Gift, The Los Angeles Times, September 19, 2006.
"If somebody gave me a hundred feet of film, I made
a movie out of it."
"My first 6 years in the business were hopeless. A
lot of times I'd say, 'Why am I doing this?'"
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