Cecil B. DeMille
Film director
Cecil B. DeMille
Cecil Blount DeMille was an American film director and Academy Award-winning film producer in both silent and sound films. He was renowned for the flamboyance and showmanship of his movies. Among his best-known films are Cleopatra; Samson and Delilah; The Greatest Show on Earth, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture; and The Ten Commandments, which was his last and most successful film.
Biography
Cecil B. DeMille's personal information overview.
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News
News abour Cecil B. DeMille from around the web
Celebrated dancer Marge Champion Comes to Hallmark senior residence - Tribeca Trib
Google News - over 5 years
“Cecil DeMille gave my father a loan to open a dance school in 1931, the teeth of the Depression,” she recalled. “I was 12 years old and I became his assistant.” A parade of Hollywood stars sought out Ernest Belcher. She and her father went to Shirley
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Google News article
Pattinson's acting skills: the elephant in the room - First Post
Google News - almost 6 years
The advert makes the movie look like Baz Luhrman's Moulin Rouge meets Cecil DeMille's 1952 classic, The Greatest Show on Earth, but sadly director Francis Lawrence's new offering fails to capture the charm of either. Robert Pattinson of Twilight fame
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Three Flicks for Holy Week - Texas GOP Vote
Google News - almost 6 years
Cecil DeMille combined showmanship, debauchery and reverence in many of his biblical features. An early important figure in early Hollywood, DeMille was a storyteller and in his 1932 now forgotten, Sign of the Cross
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Get Reel: Celebrating Easter and Passover in film - Herkimer Evening Telegram
Google News - almost 6 years
OK, it's even longer than "Exodus," but director Cecil DeMille knows his way around a spectacle. Plagues? Check. Parting of the Red Sea? Check. He certainly was familiar with the story, since he made a silent film version in 1923
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Adventures of a Man Who Defied the Gods: A Tale Retold With a New Goal of 'Reality'
NYTimes - almost 20 years
UNDER a brilliant Mediterranean sky last fall, in a sandy cove surrounded by forested hills, a tribe of warriors gathered around a funeral pyre as eerie chants filled the air. They laid a body on the pyre and set it ablaze. ''Without Achilles we are lost,'' lamented one of the warriors. ''We will never enter Troy.'' The others agreed that the death
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NYTimes article
Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Cecil B. DeMille
    LATE_ADULTHOOD
  • 1959
    Age 77
    DeMille died of a heart ailment at age 77 in January 1959.
    More Details Hide Details DeMille was a lifelong conservative Republican activist. He greatly admired Herbert Hoover. In 1944, he was the master of ceremonies at the massive rally organized by David O. Selznick in the Los Angeles Coliseum in support of the Dewey-Bricker ticket as well as Governor Earl Warren of California, who would become Dewey's running mate in 1948 and later the Chief Justice of the United States. The gathering drew 93,000, with short speeches by Hedda Hopper and Walt Disney. Among those in attendance were Ann Sothern, Ginger Rogers, Randolph Scott, Adolphe Menjou, Gary Cooper, and Walter Pidgeon. Though the rally drew a good response, most Hollywood celebrities who took a public position sided with the Roosevelt-Truman ticket. DeMille was a Freemason and a member of Prince of Orange Lodge #16 in New York City.
    In the early hours of January 21, 1959, DeMille died of heart failure.
    More Details Hide Details DeMille's funeral was held on January 23 at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church. He was entombed at the Hollywood Memorial Cemetery (now known as Hollywood Forever). DeMille received hundreds of awards, commendations, and honors in his lifetime. For his contribution to the motion picture and radio industry, DeMille has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The first, for radio contributions, is located at 6240 Vine Street. The second star is located at 1725 Vine Street. Two schools are named after him: Cecil B. DeMille Middle School, in Long Beach, California, closed and demolished in 2007 to make way for a new high school; and Cecil B. DeMille Elementary School in Midway City, California. The former film building at Chapman University in Orange, California is named in honor of DeMille. The Lawrence and Kristina Dodge College of Film and Media Arts now resides in Marion Knotts Studios.
  • 1954
    Age 72
    In 1954 he was seeking approval for a lavish remake of his 1923 silent film The Ten Commandments.
    More Details Hide Details He went before the Paramount board of directors, which was mostly Jewish-American. The members rejected his proposal, even though his last two films, Samson and Delilah and The Greatest Show on Earth, had been record-breaking hits. Adolph Zukor, the chairman of the board, rebuked the members, saying: “We have just lived through a war where our people were systematically executed. Here we have a man who made a film praising the Jewish people, that tells of Samson, one of the legends of our Scripture. Now he wants to make the life of Moses. We should get down on our knees to Cecil and say ‘Thank you!’” DeMille did not have an exact budget proposal for the project, and it promised to be the most costly in Hollywood history. Still, the members unanimously approved it.
    In 1954, Secretary of the Air Force Harold E. Talbott asked DeMille for help in designing the cadet uniforms at the newly established United States Air Force Academy.
    More Details Hide Details DeMille's designs, most notably his design of the distinctive cadet parade uniform, won praise from Air Force and Academy leadership, were ultimately adopted, and are still worn by cadets. In the early 1950s, DeMille was recruited by Allen Dulles and Frank Wisner to serve on the board of the anti-communist National Committee for a Free Europe, the public face of the organization that oversaw the Radio Free Europe service. DeMille drew on his Jewish and Protestant heritage to convey a message of tolerance. The Crusades was the first film to show accord between Christians and Muslims. DeMille received more than a dozen awards from Jewish religious and cultural groups, including B’nai B’rith.
    On November 7, 1954, while in Egypt filming the Exodus sequence for The Ten Commandments, DeMille (who was seventy-three) climbed a ladder to the top of the massive Per Rameses set and suffered a serious heart attack.
    More Details Hide Details Ignoring his doctor's orders, DeMille was back directing the film within a week. Although DeMille completed the film, his health was diminished by several more heart attacks. This film would be his last. Because of his illness, DeMille asked his son-in-law, actor Anthony Quinn, to direct a remake of his 1938 film The Buccaneer. DeMille served as executive producer but could not improve Quinn's style of direction. Despite a cast led by Charlton Heston and Yul Brynner, the 1958 film The Buccaneer was a disappointment. In the months prior to his death, DeMille was researching a film biography of Robert Baden-Powell, 1st Baron Baden-Powell, the founder of the Scout Movement. DeMille asked David Niven to star in the film, but it was never made. DeMille was also planning a film about the space race, as well as another Biblical epic, this one about the Book of Revelation.
    In 1954, DeMille began his last film, the production for which he is best remembered, The Ten Commandments.
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  • 1952
    Age 70
    His first attempt at a drama set within a semi-documentary frame was The Greatest Show on Earth, a saga of circus performers released in 1952.
    More Details Hide Details His experiment gained him a nomination for best director and won an Oscar for best picture.
  • FIFTIES
  • 1937
    Age 55
    Katherine became an actress at Paramount Pictures, ultimately gaining his approval. In 1937 she married actor Anthony Quinn.
    More Details Hide Details In the 1920s the DeMilles adopted two sons, John and Richard, the latter of whom became a notable filmmaker, writer, and psychologist. He had an older brother William. Their sister Agnes died in childhood. William later named a daughter after her. Agnes de Mille, the famed dancer-choreographer, was DeMille's niece.
  • 1936
    Age 54
    DeMille was one of the first directors to become a celebrity in his own right. He cultivated the image of the omnipotent director, complete with megaphone, riding crop, and jodhpurs. From 1936 to 1944, DeMille hosted Lux Radio Theater, a weekly digest of current feature films.
    More Details Hide Details DeMille was respected by his peers, yet his individual films were sometimes criticized. "Directorially, I think his pictures were the most horrible things I've ever seen in my life", said director William Wellman. "But he put on pictures that made a fortune. In that respect, he was better than any of us." Producer David O. Selznick wrote: "There has appeared only one Cecil B. DeMille. He is one of the most extraordinarily able showmen of modern times. However much I may dislike some of his pictures, it would be very silly of me, as a producer of commercial motion pictures, to demean for an instant his unparalleled skill as a maker of mass entertainment." DeMille appeared as himself in numerous films, including the M-G-M comedy Free and Easy. He often appeared in his coming-attraction trailers and narrated many of his later films, even stepping on screen to introduce The Ten Commandments. DeMille was immortalized in Billy Wilder's Sunset Boulevard when Gloria Swanson spoke the line: "All right, Mr. DeMille. I'm ready for my closeup." DeMille plays himself in the film.
  • FORTIES
  • 1928
    Age 46
    When "talking pictures" were innovated in 1928, DeMille made a successful transition, offering his own innovations to the painful process; he devised a microphone boom and a soundproof camera blimp.
    More Details Hide Details He also popularized the camera crane. DeMille made stars of unknown actors: Gloria Swanson, Bebe Daniels, Rod La Rocque, William Boyd, Claudette Colbert, and Charlton Heston. He also cast established stars such as Gary Cooper, Robert Preston, Paulette Goddard and Fredric March in multiple pictures. DeMille displayed a loyalty to his performers, casting them repeatedly. They included Henry Wilcoxon, Julia Faye, Joseph Schildkraut, Ian Keith, Charles Bickford, Theodore Roberts, Akim Tamiroff and William Boyd. DeMille was credited by actor Edward G. Robinson with saving his career following his eclipse in the Hollywood blacklist. DeMille had a reputation for autocratic behavior on the set, singling out and berating extras who were not paying attention. A number of these displays were thought to be staged, however, an exercise in discipline. He despised actors who were unwilling to take physical risks, especially when he had first demonstrated that the required stunt would not harm them. This occurred with Victor Mature in Samson and Delilah. Mature refused to wrestle Jackie the Lion, even though DeMille had just tussled with the lion, proving that he was tame. DeMille told the actor that he was "one hundred percent yellow". Paulette Goddard's refusal to risk personal injury in a scene involving fire in Unconquered cost her DeMille's favor and a role in The Greatest Show on Earth.
  • THIRTIES
  • 1913
    Age 31
    On December 12, 1913, DeMille, his cast, and crew boarded a Southern Pacific train bound for Flagstaff via New Orleans.
    More Details Hide Details His tentative plan was to shoot a film in Arizona, but he disliked the quality of light he saw there. He continued to Los Angeles. Once there, he chose not to shoot in Edendale, where many studios were, but in Hollywood. He also flouted the dictum that a film should run twenty minutes. He made his first film run sixty minutes, as long as a short play. The Squaw Man (1914), co-directed by Oscar Apfel, was a sensation and it established the Lasky Company. The first few years of the Lasky Company (soon to become Famous Players-Lasky) were spent in making films nonstop, literally writing the language of film. DeMille adapted Belasco's dramatic lighting techniques to film technology, mimicking moonlight with Hollywood's first attempts at "motivated lighting" in The Warrens of Virginia After five years and thirty hit films, DeMille became Hollywood's most successful director. In the silent era, he was renowned for Male and Female (1919), Manslaughter (1921), and The Godless Girl (1928). DeMille's trademark scenes included bathtubs, lion attacks, and Roman orgies. A number of his films featured scenes in two-color Technicolor.
    In July 1913 DeMille, Jesse Lasky, Sam Goldfish (later Samuel Goldwyn), and a group of East Coast businessmen created the Jesse L. Lasky Feature Play Company.
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    By 1913 he was having difficulty supporting his wife and baby daughter.
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    DeMille found success in the spring of 1913 producing Reckless Age by Lee Wilson, a play about a high society girl wrongly accused of manslaughter starring Frederick Burton and Sydney Shields.
    More Details Hide Details DeMille and his brother at times worked with the legendary impresario David Belasco, who had been a friend and collaborator of their father. Changes in the theater rendered DeMille's melodramas obsolete before they were produced, and true theatrical success eluded him.
  • TWENTIES
  • 1902
    Age 20
    DeMille married Constance Adams on August 16, 1902 and had one child, Cecilia.
    More Details Hide Details The couple also adopted an orphan child, Katherine Lester, in the early 1920s; her father had been killed in World War I and her mother had died of tuberculosis.
  • TEENAGE
  • 1900
    Age 18
    DeMille began his career as an actor on the Broadway stage in the theatrical company of Charles Frohman in 1900.
    More Details Hide Details His brother William was establishing himself as a playwright and sometimes invited him to collaborate. DeMille performed on stage with actors whom he would later direct in films: Charlotte Walker, Mary Pickford, and Pedro de Cordoba. DeMille also produced and directed plays.
    DeMille began his career as a stage actor in 1900.
    More Details Hide Details He later moved to writing and directing stage productions, some with Jesse Lasky, who was then a vaudeville producer. DeMille's first film, The Squaw Man (1914), was also the first feature film shot in Hollywood. Its interracial love story made it a phenomenal hit and it "put Hollywood on the map." The continued success of his productions led to the founding of Paramount Pictures with Lasky and Adolph Zukor. His first biblical epic, The Ten Commandments (1923), was both a critical and financial success; it held the Paramount revenue record for twenty-five years. In 1927 he directed The King of Kings, a biography of Jesus Christ, which was acclaimed for its sensitivity and reached more than 800 million viewers. The Sign of the Cross (1932) was the first sound film to integrate all aspects of cinematic technique. Cleopatra (1934) was his first film to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture. After more than thirty years in Hollywood, DeMille reached the pinnacle of his career with Samson and Delilah (1949), a biblical epic which did "an all-time record business." Along with biblical and historical narratives, he also directed films oriented toward "neo-naturalism," which tried to portray the laws of man fighting the forces of nature.
  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1881
    Born
    Born in 1881.
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Original Authors of this text are noted here.
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