Steven Spielberg is paying tribute to the man who gave him his first directing job.
Movie mogul Sidney Sheinberg, who died Thursday at the age of 84, helped built MCA/Universal into a Hollywood powerhouse.
In 1968, Sheinberg hired Spielberg after being impressed by his college short "Amblin’." From there, the two collaborated on some of the biggest hits in movie history, including "Jaws," "E.T. The Extra Terrestrial" and "Jurassic Park." They also worked together on the Oscar-winning "Schindler's List."
In a statement, Spielberg said, "My heart is broken at this news. For now let me just say that Sid had a big personality and a tender heart. He was the tallest most stand up guy I ever knew. He gave birth to my career and made Universal my home. He gave me Jaws, I gave him ET and he gave me Schindler’s List. We were a team for 25 years and he was my dear friend for 50. I have no concept about how to accept that Sid is gone. For the rest of my life I will owe him more than I can express.”
Spielberg's company Amblin Entertainment also tweeted a tribute to Sheinberg:
Sheinberg became president and COO of MCA and Universal Studios in 1973, serving alongside Lew Wasserman. Over two decades, the duo turned the company into one of the leading entertainment companies before it was eventually sold.
Sheinberg is survived by his wife of 63 years, Lorraine Gary, and his sons.