Arnold Spielberg, the father of Oscar-winning director Steven Spielberg, has died at the age of 103. Arnold died of natural causes in Los Angeles Tuesday, his family confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter Tuesday. In a collective statement, his children said that their father "taught them to 'love to research,' to 'expand their mind,' to 'keep their feet on the ground but reach for the stars' and perhaps most fatefully to 'look up.'"
Arnold worked as a computer designer and engineer, helping to design and create the groundbreaking GE-225 mainframe computer in 1960, which would pave the way for the personal computers that his son would later rely on for his filmmaking career. Arnold was Steven's biggest fan from the start, helping him to create the indie movie Firelight — a 135-minute movie Steve wrote, directed, shot, edited and composed for at just 17 years old. The movie would play at only one movie theater in Pheonix in 1964. "The story was a forerunner to Steven's Close Encounters of the Third Kind, with aliens landing on Earth, and I built the special effects," Arnold told the Jewish Journal in 2012. "But while Steven would ask for my advice, the ideas were always his own."
Arnold also served in the U.S. Army, enlisting a month after the Pearl Harbor attack, serving with the 490th "Skull & Wings" Bomb Squadron, where he became communications chief. For his service, he was awarded a Bronze Star, and his time in the army went on to partially inspire Steven's film Saving Private Ryan in 1998.
In the 1990s, Arnold also helped create a system to allow the USC Shoah Foundation Institute — founded by Steven to preserve testimonies of survivors of the Holocaust — catalog more than 52,000 interviews and 105,000 hours of visual history. In 2012, he was awarded the organization's Inspiration Award for his efforts.
Arnold was married to Leah Posner in early 1945, with whom he had four children — Steven, Anne, Sue and Nancy. Following a brief second marriage, he married Bernice Colner in 1997, and she died in 2016. Arnold's survivors include children Steven, screenwriter Anne Spielberg, marketing executive Sue Spielberg, and producer Nancy Spielberg. He is also survived by four stepchildren, 11 grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, a celebration of life is reportedly set for fall 2021. The family has asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the National World War II Museum in New Orleans or the Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America.