* He draws and gives no quarter
Edward Sorel, 73
Cartoonist, Caricaturist, Illustrator
Magazines love Sorel's scribble-like images of celebs and politicians. "Caricaturists are, for the most part, mean-spirited people who enjoy ridiculing others," he says, "which may explain why I was attracted to it." He works directly with pen—no pencil outline—which means he must start over anytime he makes a blunder. As National Portrait Gallery curator Wendy Wick Reaves has said: "Sorel's figures often emerge from a dense, wiry tangle of overlapping pen strokes that crackle with energy."
How he started: At nine, Sorel spent a year in bed with pneumonia. "All I could do to entertain myself was draw," he once said. "By the time I got well, I was an artist."
* He's changing the world, $100 million at a time
George Soros, 72
Investment Manager, Philanthropist
Soros plans to give away most of his fortune during his lifetime. He's worth $7 billion, and has already donated $4 billion to his causes. Sample projects: Poland's Solidarity movement, Internet access for former Soviet Bloc countries, a water filtration plant for the city of Sarajevo, and strengthening public defenders' offices in the U.S. A survivor of the Nazi occupation of Hungary, Soros studied economics in London, came to the U.S. in 1956, and made his billions as a fund manager. Says his biographer, Michael T. Kaufman: "No one since Carnegie and Rockefeller has come near to Soros as a philanthropist. He doesn't stroke his ego with his charity. He simply desires to improve things."
* He invites us into the lush, often scary theme park of his imagination
Steven Spielberg, 56
Film Director, Producer, Writer
Steven Spielberg The question is not "Who is Steven Spielberg?" but rather, "Who will Steven Spielberg be next?" From TV prodigy to futuristic visionary to philanthropist, he is in a steady state of reinvention. Yet no matter how many incarnations he goes through, Spielberg remains at heart the young boy from Phoenix who, according to his mother, "was scared of just about everything," the jumpy kid who would run into her bed when tree branches brushed the house.
His earliest movies, made as a kid, fed on fear and calamity: He filmed crashes of his Lionel trains and, for special effects, exploded cherries jubilee in the kitchen. At 19, he spent the summer casting himself in the role of professional filmmaker at Universal Studios, faking his way past the guards each day in his bar mitzvah suit, carrying a briefcase he borrowed from his father.
He attended California State University at Long Beach, but left a few months shy of his 21st birthday when a student film got him noticed at Universal. There, he would direct episodes of Night Gallery and other TV shows. Shifting to the big screen, he earned critical praise for the low-budget chase flick, The Sugarland Express. He expected his first big project, Jaws, to be a thrill-a-minute chomp fest. But when the mechanical shark self-destructed as filming started, he had to act fast. As he later told CNN's Larry King, he used the "Hitchcockian rule, which is basically shooting the water and suggesting the shark without showing it."
After frightening a generation out of the water, Spielberg abruptly became a spinner of fairy tales—each with a subtle dark edge. E.T., for all its magical fantasy, is at its heart "really about a young boy in search of some stability in his life," Spielberg, who was traumatized by his parents' divorce, has said.
In the decade that followed, Spielberg continued to listen to his inner lost boy, his work culminating in the Never-Never Land of Hook and the menacing velociraptors of Jurassic Park. But just when it seemed he might never stop playing out his childhood insecurities, Spielberg shed yet another skin, starkly confronting the Nazi Holocaust in Schindler's List. "I forced myself into the background of the subject matter," he has said. "And I think that's the first time I've ever done that before."
He won Oscars for best director and best picture, and then plunged deeper into the material, creating the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation, which has videotaped some 50,000 testimonials of concentration camp survivors. "Kids used to recognize me in malls and ask me if I was making another E.T.," he told In Style magazine. "Now 80-year-olds come up to me to talk about the Shoah Foundation."
Still, the master of reinvention refuses to be typecast: After assuming the mantle of his dark-visioned idol, the late Stanley Kubrick, with A.I. and Minority Report, he released last Christmas's playful Catch Me If You Can. As Spielberg has said, "I don't have enough time in a lifetime to tell all the stories I want to tell."
Watch videos from the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation.
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