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Steven Spielberg

Age: 51

Net Worth: $1.2 billion

Source of Wealth: Entertainment

Residence: Pacific Palisades

With blockbusters like “Jurassic Park,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and “E.T.,” Steven Spielberg is arguably Hollywood’s most successful director and the richest. A precipitous rise for a man who dropped out of Cal State Long Beach and began directing TV shows for $275 a week.

Despite past successes, Spielberg has had a rough year. His film “Amistad” about an 1839 slave revolt, which he called his most important project to date, was a box-office disappointment for his new studio, DreamWorks SKG. The film also was mired in charges that the Spielberg crew had plagiarized a novel by a black author Barbara Chase-Riboud. The case was ultimately settled.

The second half of 1998 appears brighter. His latest project, the World War II drama “Saving Private Ryan,” is one of the year’s more eagerly anticipated films. He also is set to direct yet another Indiana Jones adventure.

While his DreamWorks partner David Geffen is known for hard-nosed negotiating tactics, the lower-keyed Spielberg is no slouch when it comes to cutting a deal. While he played a minimal role as producer in Sony’s “Men in Black,” Spielberg received a cool 20 percent of the film’s gross receipts, worth more than $125 million, or enough cash to repurchase his $20 million Pacific Palisades estate six times over. He also dabbles in several non-Hollywood ventures, including racehorses and restaurants.

Spielberg, whose “Schindler’s List” brought him his long-awaited Oscar for best director, is also involved in the Shoah Visual History Foundation, a program to put on film the testimony of Holocaust survivors.

But it’s movie-making where he remains focused. “Spielberg’s still the one with his finger on the pulse of America,” said Hollywood writer Neal Gabler.

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