The Who2 Blog

Steven Spielberg, That Sly Dog, Was Born in 1946

Our friends at asked us to take a closer look at the birth year of director Steven Spielberg.

Who2 says 1946, but many sources online say 1947. Spielberg himself often led people to believe he was born in 1947. (Even the great Roger Ebert wrote a 50th birthday tribute to the director in 1997.)

So which year is correct?

Fortunately, a ton of legwork on this was done by Professor Joseph McBride for his 1997 book Steven Spielberg: A Biography.

McBride did some digging in Cincinnati, Spielberg’s home town, and found that his birth certificate reads 1946. He found a December 1946 birth announcement from a Cincinnati paper, The American Israelite. He also looked into high school and college records, all of which had Spielberg born in 1946. So that pretty much seals it.

(Seems like Cincinnatians have a thing for lying about their age. We just cleared up the age of actress Doris Day — born in Cincy in 1922, not 1924 as she claimed for years.)

McBride notes that a Los Angeles Times writer sniffed Spielberg out in 1981 by looking at his college records, but that Spielberg refused comment.

The assumption made by McBride (and others) is that Spielberg shaved a year off his age to seem like even more of a wunderkind than he already was. That fits a pattern of other tales Spielberg told about his early years in the business. He was young by any standard when he signed a directing contract with Universal Studios in 1969, but apparently felt age 21 sounded even better.

Bottom line: We stand by 1946 for Spielberg’s year of birth, with a salute to Prof. McBride for all his work. has probably the best take on the issue of phony biographies, quoting George Burns: “Most of what I say is true. The rest is show business.”

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