Arnold Spielberg inspired his son Steven to direct 1998's Saving Private Ryan after he served with the U.S. Army following the attack on Pearl Harbor

By Nicholas Rice
August 26, 2020 08:30 AM
Credit: FilmMagic

Arnold Spielberg, the father of Oscar-winning director Steven Spielberg, has died. He was 103.

According to multiple reports, Arnold died of natural causes in Los Angeles on Tuesday, where he was surrounded by family, including his famed filmmaker son. A rep for the director did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

Arnold's family released a joint statement to The Hollywood Reporter, where they praised their father for having "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.' "

Due to safety precautions related to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, a celebration of life service will be held in the fall of 2021. Additionally, the family noted that in lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Arnold's honor to the National World War II Museum in New Orleans or the Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America.

Arnold is survived by his children, including Steven, Anne Spielberg, Sue Spielberg, and Nancy Spielberg, as well as four stepchildren, 11 grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren.

Born on Feb. 6, 1917, in Cincinnati, Ohio, Arnold enlisted in the U.S. Army following the attack on Pearl Harbor, where he became a communications chief, according to THR. His time during the war inspired his son years later to direct 1998's Saving Private Ryan.

When he returned from the war in 1945, he married Leah Posner, a concert pianist, and the two had their four children together.

Arnold graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a degree in electrical engineering in 1949, before he landed a job designing electronic circuits for missile systems at RCA. He later joined General Electric's computer department, where he helped design the GE-200 series of mainframe computers, Variety reported.

Arnold's career in electronics also brought him to Electronic Arrays, SDS, Burroughs and IBM, the publication said.

According to Variety, even in his final days, Arnold would take online classes in everything from thermodynamics to history to astronomy to enhance his knowledge and love of the subjects.

His love of storytelling was also something he passed on to his children, according to his daughter, Sue.

"He made friends over the radio. He heard from people he never knew existed," she told Variety. "He connected with strangers and this affability is something he carried over into real life, often befriending another person in line at Starbucks or the table next to him."

According to a statement obtained by the outlet, Steven told his father, "You are our hearth. You are our home," during his time with him before he died. He also added of his father, "When I see a PlayStation, when I look at a cell phone — from the smallest calculator to an iPad — I look at my dad and I say, 'My dad and a team of geniuses started that.' "