Arnold Spielberg, the father of filmmaker Steven Spielberg, died on Tuesday, Variety has learned. He was 103.
Steven Spielberg was with his father on the night of his passing, telling him “You are our hearth. You are our home.” He also said of his father, who was an electrical engineer at General Electric for a time, “When I see a PlayStation, when I look at a cell phone — from the smallest calculator to an iPad — I look at my dad and I say, ‘My dad and a team of geniuses started that.’”
In addition to Steven, he had three daughters, Anne, Nancy and Sue. In a joint statement, Spielberg’s children said their father taught them to “love to research, expand their mind, keep their feet on the ground, but reach for the stars [and] look up.”
“Thank you for my life. I love you, Dad, Daddy, Daddelah. And then so then, and then so then, what happens next…” they told him.
Spielberg was born on Feb. 6, 1917, in Cincinnati, Ohio, and soon developed a passion for learning and innovation. At age 6, he turned his family’s attic into a makeshift lab and crafted inventions, inviting his friends over to hold onto the electrodes of a shock machine he made out of wiring batteries together. At age 12, he got his first ham radio, which opened the door to a lifetime of sharing stories with strangers over the airwaves.
The love of storytelling was something he passed on to his children. “He made friends over the radio. He heard from people he never knew existed. He connected with strangers and this affability is something he carried over into real life, often befriending another person in line at Starbucks or the table next to him,” his daughter Sue Spielberg said.
In December of 1941, Spielberg enlisted as a sergeant in the Army, going on to work as a radio operator and chief communications man for the 490th Bomb Squadron, also known as the “Burma Bridge Busters.”