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Spielberg receives the “Spirit of California” and is inducted into the California Hall of Fame

The acclaimed director graduated from Cal State Long Beach in 2002.

Associate+Vice+President+for+Development+Kevin+Crowe+and+CSULB+spokeswoman+Terri+Carbaugh+pose+with+Cal+State+Long+Beach+alumni+Steven+Spielberg+12%2F5.
Associate Vice President for Development Kevin Crowe and CSULB spokeswoman Terri Carbaugh pose with Cal State Long Beach alumni Steven Spielberg 12/5.

Associate Vice President for Development Kevin Crowe and CSULB spokeswoman Terri Carbaugh pose with Cal State Long Beach alumni Steven Spielberg 12/5.

Courtesy of Terri Carbaugh

Courtesy of Terri Carbaugh

Associate Vice President for Development Kevin Crowe and CSULB spokeswoman Terri Carbaugh pose with Cal State Long Beach alumni Steven Spielberg 12/5.

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Steven Allan Spielberg knew one thing when he was growing up: he wanted to make it to Hollywood.

On Tuesday night, Cal State Long Beach alumnus Spielberg walked down the red carpet in Sacramento to be inducted into the California Hall of Fame for his contributions to filmmaking and the Hollywood industrial complex.

The California Hall of Fame began in 2006 when former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and his wife, Maria Shriver, sought to celebrate and honor exemplary Californians across all disciplines who have made an impact on the state. The Hall of Fame places an emphasis on the significant influence one person can have.

“It’s a tough choice, there are a lot of extraordinary people,” said Richard Costigan III, the California Museum’s Board of Trustees chair. “I always think every year like, ‘oh my god, this year is great. How is it going to get better?’ But it always turns out to be an extraordinary group of folks and it’s always amazing.”

Spielberg, who brought fears of a community plagued by a man-eating shark to life in “Jaws” (1975) and dreamt up worlds beyond our own in “Close Encounters” (1977), joined eight other inductees including Lucille Ball, Susan Desmond-Hellmann, Mabel McKay, Mario J. Molina, Jim Plunkett, Gary Snyder, Michael Tilson Thomas and Warren Winiarski.

Terri Carbaugh, associate vice president of public affairs at CSULB, flew to Sacramento to attend the event.

“Because [Spielberg] is our alum, they reached out,” Carbaugh said. “…The experience we have in college, the good and the bad ones, can really shape our lives in the decades to come.”

She also explained that she was honored to meet Spielberg and that she was happy she could express to him that the university would continue supporting him through future endeavors.

“He spoke highly of his journey to achieve a college degree at Long Beach State and that was heartwarming to me,” Carbaugh said. “You think of all that he has achieved in his life,” yet he still places significant weight on his college degree.

Spielberg attended Cal State Long Beach in 1965 but left the campus in pursuit of his career in the growing entertainment industry. He eventually became a part of a group of directors that film historians refer to as “film school brats” as they ushered in a new age in Hollywood.

His work established the summer blockbuster with his film “Jaws” and pioneered product placement in “E.T.” (1982). He later founded Amblin Entertainment with producers Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall in 1981. Amblin went on to produce such classics as “Back to the Future” (1985) and “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” (1988).

Spielberg later returned to Long Beach to finish the last two semesters, and received his Bachelor of Arts in film and electronic arts in 2002. He added that Long Beach was not his first choice in campus, but it was a place he loved.

“All my kids were born [in California],” said Spielberg during his acceptance speech. “I met my wife here. Everything that has meant anything significantly to me that will follow me in other lives has all accumulated here in California. So, for me to receive this honor: I really truly now and, for the first time tonight, do feel thanks to all of you like a native Californian.”

Spielberg’s exhibition featured objects from his extensive filmography such as a dinosaur model from “Jurassic Park” (1993), the helmet that actor Tom Hanks wore in “Saving Private Ryan” (1998) and one of the 16 mm film cameras that he used in his youth. His exhibit along with the other honorees of the eleventh class can be seen at the California Museum through next year.

This article has been edited for clarity 12/7 at 4:47 p.m.

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