CECIL BLOUNT DEMILLE (/ˈsɛsəl dəˈmɪl/ ; August 12, 1881 – January 21, 1959) was an American filmmaker. Between 1913 and 1956, he made a total of 70 features, both silent and sound films . He is acknowledged as a founding father of the cinema of the United States and the most commercially successful producer-director in film history. His films were distinguished by their epic scale and by his cinematic showmanship. He made silent films of every genre: social dramas, comedies, Westerns, farces, morality plays, and historical pageants.
DeMille began his career as a stage actor in 1900. 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
In 1927, he directed The King of Kings , a biography of Jesus of
Nazareth, 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
He went on to receive his first nomination for the
* 1 DeMille name * 2 Family, childhood, youth
* 3 Career
* 3.1 Broadway * 3.2 Moving pictures * 3.3 Silent era * 3.4 Sound era * 3.5 Showmanship as director * 3.6 The Ten Commandments * 3.7 Unfulfilled projects
* 4 Personal life * 5 Politics * 6 Race and religion * 7 Death
* 8 Legacy
* 8.1 Posthumous honors
* 9 Filmography
* 9.1 Director * 9.2 Actor
* 10 Awards * 11 See also
* 12 References
* 12.1 Notes * 12.2 Sources
* 13 External links
There are several variants of DeMille's surname. His family's Dutch surname was originally spelled de Mil and then became de Mille. As an adult, he adopted the spelling DeMille for professional purposes but continued to use de Mille in private life. The family name de Mille was used by his children Cecilia, John, Richard, and Katherine. DeMille's brother William and his daughters, Margaret and Agnes, as well as DeMille's granddaughter, Cecilia de Mille Presley, also used the de Mille spelling.
FAMILY, CHILDHOOD, YOUTH
Cecil Blount DeMille was born in
Ashfield, Massachusetts , while his
parents were vacationing there, and grew up in Washington, North
Carolina . His father,
Henry Churchill de Mille (1853–1893), was a
DeMille's parents met as members of a music and literary society in
New York. Henry was a tall, red-headed student. Beatrice was
intelligent, educated, forthright, and strong-willed. They were both
born in 1853 and both loved the theater. When they married, Beatrice
converted to Henry's faith. Henry worked as a playwright,
administrator, and faculty member during the early years of The
American Academy of Dramatic Arts
The family spent time in
Pompton Lakes, New Jersey
In 1893, at the age of forty, Henry de Mille contracted typhoid fever and died suddenly, leaving Beatrice with three children, a house, and no savings. Beatrice had "enthusiastically supported" her husband's theatrical aspirations. In his eulogy, she wrote: "May your sons be as fine and as noble and good and honest as you were. May they follow in your steps."
Within eight weeks of Henry's death, Beatrice opened an acting
workshop in her home, the Henry C. De Mille School for Girls. She
later became the second female play broker on Broadway. DeMille
attended Pennsylvania Military College in
DeMille began his career as an actor on the Broadway stage in the
theatrical company of
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. On December 12, 1913, DeMille, his cast, and crew boarded a Southern Pacific train bound for Flagstaff via New Orleans. 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 U.S. cinema's first attempts at "motivated lighting" in The Warrens of Virginia
After five years and thirty hit films, DeMille became the American
film industry's most successful director. In the silent era, he was
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
The immense popularity of DeMille's silent films enabled him to branch out into other areas. The Roaring Twenties were the boom years and DeMille took full advantage, opening the Mercury Aviation Company, one of America's first commercial airlines. He was also a real estate speculator, an underwriter of political campaigns, and a Bank of America executive, approving loans for other filmmakers.
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. He also popularized the camera crane.
DeMille made stars of unknown actors:
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, as 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
DeMille was adept at directing "thousands of extras", and many of his
pictures include spectacular setpieces: the toppling of the pagan
temple in Samson and Delilah ; train wrecks in
The Road to Yesterday ,
Union Pacific and The Greatest Show on Earth ; the destruction of an
Madam Satan ; and the parting of the
DeMille first used three-strip
SHOWMANSHIP AS DIRECTOR
DeMille as producer of the CBS Radio Theatre, 1937
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
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
In the 1940s DeMille continued to please the public. He averaged one film a year; most of them centered on historical figures or Bible stories. 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. His experiment gained him a nomination for best director and won an Oscar for best picture.
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS
In 1954, DeMille began his last film, the production for which he is best remembered, The Ten Commandments .
On November 7, 1954, while in Egypt filming the Exodus sequence for The Ten Commandments, DeMille (who was seventy-three) climbed a 107-foot (33 m) ladder to the top of the massive Per Rameses set and suffered a serious heart attack. 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. Despite a cast led by Charlton Heston and Yul Brynner , the 1958 film The Buccaneer was a disappointment.
In the months before his death, DeMille was researching a film
Robert Baden-Powell, 1st Baron Baden-Powell , the founder
of the Scout Movement . DeMille asked
DeMille's tomb at
DeMille married Constance Adams on August 16, 1902 and had one child,
Cecilia. The couple also adopted an orphan child, Katherine Lester ,
in the early 1920s; her father had been killed in
World War I
Katherine became an actress at Paramount Pictures, ultimately gaining his approval. In 1937 she married actor Anthony Quinn . In the 1920s the DeMilles adopted two sons, John and Richard , the latter of whom became a notable filmmaker, writer, and psychologist.
DeMille was a Freemason and a member of Prince of Orange Lodge #16 in New York City.
Cecil had an older brother William, and a sister Agnes who died in childhood. William later named a daughter after her, Agnes de Mille , the famed dancer-choreographer.
DeMille was a lifelong conservative Republican activist. He greatly
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
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.
RACE AND RELIGION
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 .
In 1954, he was seeking approval for a lavish remake of his 1923 silent film The Ten Commandments. 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 U.S. film history. Still, the members unanimously approved it.
In the early hours of January 21, 1959, DeMille died of heart failure .
DeMille in 1952
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
Two schools are named after him:
Cecil B. DeMille
The former film building at
The moving image collection of
Cecil B. DeMille
DeMille made seventy features. In spite of careful storage in his film vaults, seven films were lost to nitrate decomposition; all were early silent films. The titles are: The Arab , The Wild Goose Chase , Chimmie Fadden , The Dream Girl , We Can\'t Have Everything , The Devil Stone , and The Squaw Man (the 1918 remake). Roughly twenty of his silent features are available in commercial DVD format.
The sound films are in three groups:
3. DeMille's last three films were not sold to EMKA, and at present remain with Paramount. Television distribution for those films is handled by Trifecta Entertainment -webkit-column-count: 3; column-count: 3;">
* The Squaw Man (1914)
* Brewster\'s Millions (1914, Lost)
The Master Mind (1914)
* The Only Son (1914, Lost)
The Man on the Box
* Dynamite (1929)
Madam Satan (1930)
* The Squaw Man (1931)
* The Sign of the Cross (1932)
* This Day and Age (1933)
Four Frightened People (1934)
* Cleopatra (1934)
* The Crusades (1935)
The Plainsman (1936)
* The Buccaneer (1938)
* Union Pacific (1939)
* North West Mounted Police (1940)
Reap the Wild Wind (1942)
The Story of Dr. Wassell (1944)
* The Squaw Man (1914) * A Trip to Paramountown (1922) * Free and Easy (1930) * The Last Train from Madrid (1937) * Glamour Boy (1941) * Star Spangled Rhythm (1942) * Jens Mansson in America (1947) * Variety Girl (1947) * Sunset Boulevard (1950) * The Fallbrook Story (1952) * Son of Paleface (1952) * The Buster Keaton Story (1957)
YEAR AWARD CATEGORY TITLE OF WORK
1953 Academy Award Best Picture The Greatest Show on Earth
1953 Academy Award Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award –
1939 Palme d\'Or – Union Pacific
1953 Directors Guild of America Award Lifetime Achievement Award –
1958 Laurel Awards Top Producer/Director –
* Biography portal
* ^ "De Mille". Random House Webster\'s Unabridged Dictionary .
* ^ "
Cecil B. DeMille
* Birchard, Robert S. (2004). Cecil B. DeMille's Hollywood.
Lexington, Kentucky: University Press of Kentucky. ISBN
* Brownlow, K. (1976). The Parade's Gone by... Berkeley, California:
Wikimedia Commons has