What Steven Spielberg Said About New NJ Historic Marker Dedicated To Him

What Steven Spielberg Said About New NJ Historic Marker Dedicated To Him

A young Sammy Fabelman stares in wonder at the movie screen.

It’s the first time in a movie theater, and it’s in New Jersey.

That’s how Steven Spielberg commemorates the real-life cinematic experience that sparked his fascination with movies at the age of 6 in the Oscar-nominated film “The Fabelmans,” released in November. This is the very first scene of the film.

The year: 1952. The film: ‘The greatest show in the world’.

Spielberg, 76, who co-wrote and directed the Best Film nominee based on his childhood and his achievement as a young filmmaker, spent some of his younger years living in New Jersey with his family when his father worked. at RCA in Camden. The Cincinnati native saw his first film at the Westmount Theater in Haddon Township. He attended nearby Thomas A. Edison Elementary School.

Last week, Camden County introduced a historical marker honoring Spielberg outside the theater. The building now houses a Retro Fitness, although the theater facade and marquee remain. The Oscar-winning director sent a letter to the Camden County Board of Commissioners thanking them.

Here is what he said.

From left, Paul Dano as Burt Fabelman, Mateo Zoryan Francis-DeFord as young Sammy Fabelman, and Michelle Williams as Mitzi Fabelman in “The Fabelmans,” a film based on Steven’s childhood Spielberg. Spielberg saw his first film in New Jersey, a hugely influential life event that is portrayed in this scene.

“I was so surprised and equally honored to learn of the existence of the historical marker commemorating the site of the first film I ever saw when I was a six year old boy, living on Crystal Terrace Ave in Haddonfield “, Spielberg said in the letter. , shared by the Haddon Township Historical Society on Facebook. “The Westmont was the movie theater where I watched many movies after ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’. Another movie I specifically remember seeing there was John Ford’s ‘The Searchers’ in 1956.”

“The Fabelmans” also depicts the time a young Spielberg met Ford as he was trying to establish a foothold in Hollywood. Director David Lynch plays Ford opposite Gabriel LaBelle, who plays a teenaged Spielberg in the film. Most of the film covers the years the Spielbergs lived in Arizona and California.

Mateo Zoryan Francis-DeFord plays a 6-year-old Spielberg, aka Sammy. Michelle Williams plays her mother, Mitzi Fabelman, aka Leah Spielberg (later Leah Adler), and Paul Dano is her father Burt Fabelman, aka Arnold Spielberg.

Steven Spielberg’s historical marker.

“For a budding storyteller, the theater was something of a place of worship and when my father left RCA in Camden to join GE in Phoenix, Arizona, I sadly knew I would leave behind the memories of so many great afternoons and weekends at this palace behind,” Spielberg continued in the letter.

“When I sat down to write my semi-autobiographical film, there was no question where the story should begin…the place where all my big dreams began…at the Westmont. Thank you for marking my time in New Jersey and I will be visiting Haddon Township to pay tribute to your wonderful community very soon.”

At the Oscars on Sunday, “The Fabelmans” is nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay for Spielberg and Tony Kushner, Best Actress for Michelle Williams, Best Supporting Actor for Judd Hirsch, Best Score for John Williams and Best Production Design for Karen O’Hara and Rick Carter.

For more of Spielberg’s New Jersey story, here’s our look at “The Fabelmans.”

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Amy Kuperinsky can be reached at akuperinsky@njadvancemedia.com and followed at @AmyKup on Twitter.

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