George Walton Lucas, Jr. (born May 14, 1944) is an Academy Award-nominated American film director, producer, screenwriter and chairman of Lucasfilm Ltd. He is best known for being the creator of the epic Sci-Fi franchise Star Wars and the archaeologist-adventurer character Indiana Jones. Today, Lucas is one of the American film industry's most financially successful independent directors/producers, with an estimated net worth of $3.9 billion.
Lucas was born in Modesto, California, the son of Dorothy Lucas (née Bomberger) and George Walton Lucas, Sr. (1913–1991).  His father was mainly of British and Swiss-German heritage and his mother, 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), was mainly of German and Scots-Irish heritage.
His experiences growing up in the sleepy suburb of
During this time, an experimental filmmaker named Bruce Baillie tacked up a bedsheet in his backyard in 1960 to screen the work of underground, avant-garde 16 mm filmmakers like Jordan Belson, Stan Brakhage and Bruce Conner. For the next few years, Baillie's series, dubbed Canyon Cinema, toured local coffeehouses.
These events became a magnet for the teenage Lucas and his boyhood friend John Plummer. The 19-year-olds began slipping away to San Francisco to hang out in jazz clubs and find news of Canyon Cinema screenings in flyers at the City Lights bookstore. Already a promising photographer, Lucas became infatuated with these abstract films.
"That's when George really started exploring," Plummer recalls. "We went to a theater on
At an autocross track, Lucas met his first mentor in the film industry — famed cinematographer Haskell Wexler, a fellow aficionado of sleek racing machines. Wexler was impressed by the way the shy teenager handled a camera, cradling it low on his hips to get better angles. "George tried as hard as anyone, and I was one to reward that," Wexler recalls.
Lucas then transferred to the University of Southern California 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. At USC, he became very good friends with acclaimed director Stephen Spielberg. Lucas was deeply influenced by the Filmic Expression course taught at the school by filmmaker Lester Novros which concentrated on the non-narrative elements of Film Form like color, light, movement, space, and time. Another huge inspiration was the Yugoslav montagist (and dean of the USC Film Department) Slavko Vorkapich who had been a colleague of Sergei Eisenstein's before moving to Hollywood to make stunning montage sequences for studio features at MGM, RKO, and Paramount. Vorkapich taught the autonomous nature of the cinematic art form, emphasizing the unique dynamic quality of movement and kinetic energy inherent in motion pictures.
Lucas saw many inspiring movies in class, particularly the visual films coming out of the National Film Board of Canada like Arthur Lipsett's 21-87, the French-Canadian cameraman Jean-Claude Labrecque's cinéma vérité 60 Cycles, the work of Norman McLaren, and the documentaries of Claude Jutra. Lucas fell madly in love with pure cinema and quickly became prolific at making 16 mm nonstory noncharacter visual tone poems and cinema verite with such titles as Look at Life, Herbie, 1:42:08, The Emperor, Anyone Lived in a Pretty (how) Town, Filmmaker, and 6-18-67. He was passionate and interested in camerawork and editing, defining himself as a filmmaker as opposed to being a director, and he loved making abstract visual films that create emotions purely through cinema.
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.[dubious ]
In 1967, Lucas re-enrolled as a USC graduate student in film production. Working as a teaching instructor for a class of U.S. Navy students who were being taught documentary cinematography, Lucas directed the short film Electronic Labyrinth: THX 1138 4EB, which won first prize at the 1967-68 National Student Film Festival, and was later adapted into his first full-length feature film, THX 1138. Lucas was awarded a scholarship by Warner Brothers to observe the making of Finian's Rainbow (1968) which was being directed by Francis Ford Coppola, who at the time was revered among film school students of the time as a cinema graduate who had "made it".
Lucas co-founded the studio American Zoetrope with Coppola—whom he met during his internship at Warner Brothers—hoping to create a liberating environment for filmmakers to direct outside the perceived oppressive control of the
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.
Lucas developed the American Zoetrope banner under which Apocalypse Now to direct after Star Wars, but work on the latter film dragged on, so Coppola took over directing Apocalypse Now, leading to the breakdown of the American Zoetrope partnership. However, the money from Star Wars enabled Lucas to set up his own studio, Lucasfilm, inMarin County in his native
The animation studio Pixar was founded as the Graphics Group, one third of the Computer Division of Lucasfilm. Pixar's early computer graphics research resulted in groundbreaking effects in films such as Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Young Sherlock Holmes, and the group was purchased in 1986 by Steve Jobs shortly after he left Apple after a power struggle at Apple Computer. Jobs paid U.S. $5 million to Lucas and put U.S. $5 million as capital into the company. The sale reflected Lucas' desire to stop the cash flow losses associated with his 7-year research projects associated with new entertainment technology tools, as well as his company's new focus on creating entertainment products rather than tools. A contributing factor was cash flow difficulties following Lucas' 1983 divorce concurrent with the sudden dropoff in revenues from Star Wars licenses following the release of Return of the Jedi. (Some twenty years later on January 24, 2006, Disney announced that it had agreed to buy Pixar for approximately $7.4 billion in an all-stock deal.)
Lucas was also influential in the development of industry-standard post-production tools such as the Avid Film and Video nonlinear editor, first developed as the Edit Droid, and also the Sound Droid, which later became the Digidesign Pro Tools sound editing and mixing software.
Lucas and director Steven Spielberg enjoy a friendship that dates to their college years, and that has resulted in collaborations on films including the entire Indiana Jones saga. Lucas has had a few other films in his career, including the films Howard the Duck and Willow, both of which are considered box office bombs.
On October 3, 1994, Lucas started to write the three Star Wars prequels, and on November 1 that year, he left the day-to-day operations of his filmmaking business and started a sabbatical to finish the prequels.
In 2006 Forbes Magazine estimated Lucas' personal wealth at US$ 3.5 billion. In 2005 Forbes.com estimated the lifetime revenue generated by the Star Wars franchise at nearly $20 billion.
In 2007, it was announced that he would produce a TV series about Star Wars, which would take place between episodes II and III. Lucas purportedly also recently announced that he plans on making two additional Star Wars films that will take place after The Return of the Jedi, but this rumor was debunked at Star Wars Celebration 4 in Los Angeles, California which took place May 24–May 28, 2007. When Steve Sansweet, Director of Content Management and Head of Fan Relations at Lucasfilm, was asked about the proposed two films post-Return of the Jedi he stated that it was a misunderstanding of what Lucas was explaining. According to Sansweet, Lucas was referring to the two Star Wars television projects currently in production: Star Wars: Clone Wars which is a CG animated that debuted in Fall of 2008, and the Star Wars: The Clone Wars live action television series set to debut in late 2010 or early 2011.
In 2009, Lucas has also devoted himself to sharing his insights and stories as a businessman with the global business community at the World Business Forum
In 1991, The George Lucas Educational Foundation was founded as a nonprofit operating foundation to celebrate and encourage innovation in schools. The Foundation's content is available under the brand Edutopia, in an award-winning magazine, and via documentary films. Lucas, though his foundation, was one of the leading proponents of the E-rate program in the universal service fund, which was enacted as part of theTelecommunications Act of 1996. On June 24, 2008, Lucas testified before the United States House of Representatives subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet as the head of his Foundation to advocate for a free wireless broadband educational network.
The American Film Institute awarded Lucas its Life Achievement Award on June 9, 2005. This was shortly after the release of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, about which he joked stating that, since he views the entire Star Wars series as one movie, he could actually receive the award now that he had finally "gone back and finished the movie."
Lucas was nominated for four Academy Awards: Best Directing and Writing for American Graffiti, and Best Directing and Writing for Star Wars. He received the Academy's Irving G. Thalberg Award in 1991. He appeared at the 79th Academy Awards ceremony in 2007 with Steven Spielberg and Francis Ford Coppola to present the Best Director award to their friend Martin Scorsese. During the speech, Spielberg and Coppola talked about the joy of winning an Oscar, making fun of Lucas, who has not won a competitive Oscar.
In 2005, Lucas gave US$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.
On September 19, 2006, USC announced that George Lucas had donated $180 million to his alma mater to expand the film school. It is the largest single donation to USC and the largest gift to a film school. Previous donations led to the already existing
On January 1, 2007 George Lucas served as the Grand Marshal for the 2007 Tournament of Roses Parade, and made the coin toss at the 2007 Rose Bowl. The toss favored Lucas's alma mater, the Trojans. His team, which came into the game as underdogs, went on to defeat the Michigan Wolverines (32-18).
In 1969, Lucas married film editor Marcia Lou Griffin, who went on to win an Academy Award for her editing work on the original (Episode IV) Star Wars film. George and Marcia adopted a daughter, Amanda, in 1981, and divorced in 1984. 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, as has Lucas himself. Lucas had been in a long relationship with and engaged to singerLinda Ronstadt. He has been dating Mellody Hobson, president of Ariel Capital Management, since 2007 and she has accompanied him to several events including the 79th Academy Awards ceremony in February 2007, an American Film Institute event in October 2007 and the 2008 Cannes Film Festival held in May. He supported Barack Obama for President in 2008.
Lucas was born and raised in a strongly Methodist family. After inserting religious themes into Star Wars, he would eventually come to identify strongly with the Eastern religious philosophies he studied and incorporated into his movies, which were a major inspiration for "the Force." Lucas eventually came to state that his religion was "Buddhist Methodist." Lucas resides in Marin County.