Appearing on "60 Minutes" Sunday night, Steven Spielberg revealed that his childhood -- a recurring subject of his films -- was less than perfect. On the topic of school, the 65-year-old director of early Oscar-contender "Lincoln" said that he had been bullied. "I was a nerd in those days. Outsider, like the kid that played the clarinet in the band and in orchestra, which I did."
The early childhood trauma didn't stop there. More disturbingly, both Spielberg and his mother revealed that anti-semitism ran rampant in their suburban Phoenix, Az., neighborhood. "People used to chant, the Spielbergs are dirty Jews," mom Leah Adler, age 92, said.
"I denied it for a long time, my Judaism," Spielberg admitted to "60 Minutes" reporter Lesley Stahl. "I often told people my last name was German, not Jewish. I'm sure my grandparents are rolling in their graves right now, hearing me say that. But I think that I was in denial for a long time."
But the young Spielberg didn't let the taunting get the better of him. If anything, it inspired a sense of mischievousness that has now come to identify Spielberg's body of work. "I took Skippy peanut butter and smeared it all over [my anti-Semitic neighbor's] windows," Spielberg said. "I guess right now we're beyond the statute of limitations so I can't get sued for vandalism."