The Beginning of an Epic: George Walton Lucas, Jr. is Born

“I am simply trying to struggle through life; trying to do God’s bidding,” says Lucas.

Lucas’ struggle first began on May 14, 1944 when he was born in the relatively humdrum city of Modesto, California to parents George Walton Lucas, Sr. and Ellinore Bomberger Lucas. He grew up on a walnut farm and was destined to take over the small office supply store owned by his father. The young Lucas didn’t go to many movies nor did his family have a TV until he was 11-years old. Little did his parents, or anyone else know that Lucas would go on to become one of the world’s most successful and well-respected filmmakers in history.

Lucas attended Thomas Downey High School where his studies took a back seat to his passion for racecar driving. “My teenage years were completely devoted to cars,” said Lucas. “That was the most important thing in my life, from about the age of 14 to 20”. His dream of becoming a professional racecar driver came to an end just days before his high school graduation when Lucas was involved in a near-fatal car accident. Clipped from behind, Lucas’ harness snapped and he was thrown from the car.

With the realization that he wouldn’t be able to follow his racecar dream, Lucas enrolled in Modesto Junior College, where he earned an Arts degree. “When I first got to college, I was very interested in the social sciences, anthropology, sociology, psychology, those kinds of things,” said Lucas. “And I was still interested in art and photography. I didn’t know that I could actually put them all together in one occupation and love it.”

Lucas subsequently transferred to the prestigious University of Southern California School of Cinema-Television. “I said, ‘Well, that’s sort of like photography, maybe that will be interesting,” said Lucas. But, it was here where Lucas discovered his true passion for filmmaking. “Suddenly everything came together in one place. All my likes, everything I actually seemed to have talent for was right there.”

It was at film school where Lucas first met the established producer-director Francis Ford Coppola. With Coppola as a mentor to the aspiring film student, Lucas created his first short film THX-1138: 4EB, which went on to win first prize at the 1967 National Student Film Festival. That same year, Lucas was awarded a prestigious internship with Warner Brothers, where he was able to watch Coppola in action.

But, after graduating from USC in 1966, Lucas was still unsure of what to do next. He attempted to join the Air Force but his reckless driving record stood in the way. He was also drafted by the Army, but was let go when tests revealed he had diabetes. In 1967, with his love of film and few other career options, Lucas decided to commit himself to a career in film and re-enrolled in USC in the graduate film production program. “After that, I didn’t do anything but films.”

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