Thursday, August 24, 2006

Former Arcadia Resident Steven Spielberg Still Visits His Phoenix Roots

Former Arcadia Resident Steven Spielberg Still Visits His Phoenix Roots

Steven Spielberg Lived in Phoenix, attended Ingleside Elementary and Arcadia High and still visits his roots.

Steven Spielberg directed his first movies while residing at 3443 North 49th Street in the Arcadia District of Phoenix.

On April 1, 1999, Steven Spielberg and his sons paid a surprise visit to the GameWorks at Arizona Mills when he was in town visiting family and friends during Passover. According to the Arizona Republic, that was the second year he spent the holiday in Phoenix, staying at the Buttes in Tempe. The Arizona Mills Gameworks was the company's fifth location. It opened in November, 1997, after openings in Dallas, Seattle, Las Vegas and Ontario earlier in the year. GameWorks is a joint venture of Sega Enterprises, DreamWorks SKG and Universal Studios Inc. Spielberg is the "S" in DreamWorks SKG.


Steven stepped out of the shiny limousine amid the flurry of flashing cameras and the glow of search lights on Tuesday night, March 24, 1964. He made his way through the paparazzi and into the packed theater where his science fiction thriller, Firelight, would be shown for the first time. This was not your typical Hollywood premier. It wasn't even in Hollywood. It was at the Phoenix Little Theater where 17-year-old Steve Spielberg would preside over the premier of his first full length feature film.

This box office sellout made back its $600 cost in its first showing at 75ยข a head, and would portend future blockbusters that have made Steven Spielberg the most successful director in movie history. Long before Spielberg moved his operations to Hollywood for Jaws (1975), Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977--an improved version of Firelight), E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), Jurassic Park (1993), Saving Private Ryan (1998), and many others, he was producing and directing movies from his home in the Arcadia District of Phoenix.

Although his early films might have lacked the financial success of later ventures, they would bring their youthful director a notoriety rarely achieved by secondary school students. In 1958, he earned a photography merit badge as a Boy Scout for a 9 minute 8 mm film, The Last Gunfight. A local television crew covered his filming of 41 minute World War II movie, Escape to Nowhere (1962). In the early 60's he appeared on KPHO's top rated Wallace and Ladmo kid's show to present a short space film.

The Spielbergs moved to Phoenix in 1957 when Steven's father got a job with General Electric. They lived at 3443 North 49th Street in the Arcadia neighborhood of Phoenix. Steve attended Ingleside Elementary School from the 2nd semester of the 4th grade on, and Arcadia High. The day after the premier of Firelight, the family moved to California.

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