Cecil B. De Mille

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    Date of birth
    12 August 1881
    Ashfield, Massachusetts, USA

    Date of death
    21 January 1959
    Hollywood, California, USA. (heart ailment)

    Sometimes Credited As:
    Cecil B. De Mille

    Birth name
    Cecil Blount DeMille


    5' 11" (1.80 m)

    Constance Adams (16 August 1902 - 21 January 1959) (his death) 1 child

    One of the 36 founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS)

    Although married to wife Constance for sixty years, DeMille had long-term affairs with two other women: Jeanie Macpherson and Julia Faye, occasionally entertaining both women simultaneously on his yacht or his ranch. His wife knew of the affairs preferred to live with their children in the main house.

    DeMille was notable for his courage and athleticism and despised men unwilling to perform dangerous stunts or who had phobias. He lit into Victor Mature on the set of Samson and Delilah (1949), calling him "100 percent yellow." Other Works:

    Only eldest daughter 'Cecelia DeMille' was the deMille's natural child, daughter Katherine DeMille and sons John and Richard being adopted later.

    Interred at Hollywood Memorial Cemetery (now called Hollywood Forever), Hollywood, California, USA.

    Son of Beatrice DeMille, brother of director William C. de Mille, uncle of Agnes de Mille and Peggy George.

    Uncle-in-law of B.P. Fineman.

    Was the original host of the popular "Lux Radio Theater," which presented one-hour radio adaptations of popular movies, often with the original stars, always with many of the biggest names in Hollywood. De Mille served as host/director of the series from its debut in 1936 until 1944, when a politically-oriented dispute with the American Federation of Radio Artists forced his suspension, and ultimate resignation, from the program. William Keighley succeeded him for the remainder of the program's run.

    Incredible as it may seem, none of Cecil B. DeMille's films has fallen victim to the ravages of nitrate degeneration. This was because he preserved all of them via cold storage. Several months after his death, his oldest child and executor, Cecilia DeMille Harper, presented the collection to James Card, then curator of Rochester, New York's Eastman House and Museum, where the films may be periodically viewed today.

    A photograph of DeMille working on the set of Cleopatra (1934) appears in the selvage on the right side of a sheet of 10 USA 37¢ commemorative postage stamps, issued 25 February 2003, celebrating American Filmmaking: Behind the Scenes.

    Grandfather of Cecilia DeMille Presley.

    He is perhaps the only director to film two remakes of one of his films ("The Squaw Man").

    At his death, DeMille was in the process of producing/directing an epic film about the creation of the Boy Scouts, to star James Stewart. His estate papers include a script, and extensive research material.

    Biography in: John Wakeman, editor. "World Film Directors, Volume One, 1890-1945". Pages 207-222. New York: The H.W. Wilson Company, 1987.

    Remade four of his own films. He remade story of The Squaw Man, his first film, twice.

    Before the casting of Victor Mature, DeMille considered using a then unknown body builder named Steve Reeves as Samson, after his original choice, Burt Lancaster, declined due to a bad back. DeMille liked Reeves and thought he was perfect for the part, a clash between Reeves and the studio over his physique ended the chance of casting him. Almost a decade later, Reeves found fame and stardom appearing in Hercules (1957).

    To promote his film The Ten Commandments, he had stone plaques of the commandments posted at government buildings across the country. Many of them are still standing to this day, and some are now the subjects of First Amendment lawsuits.

    Died the same day as Carl 'Alfalfa' Switzer.

    He and his wife adopted daughter Katherine in 1920, when she was 9, after her father died in WWI and her mother died of tuberculosis. Her birth name was Katherine Lester.

    His son, John Blount Demille, was born in 1913. He was of Spanish descent.

    Uncle of Agnes DeMille.

    Personal quotes
    "The public is always right"

    "You are here to please me. Nothing else on earth matters." -C.B. to his crew

    "Cecil B. DeMille was also De Phoney and De Hypocrite of all time. He genuinely glorified in being the biggest fly on the Hollywood shit-hill." -- Yul Brynner

    "Give me any two pages of the Bible and I'll give you a picture."

    [on the set of 'North West Mounted Police' (1940) when Tom Hightree's war whoops became too enthusiastic.] "Mr. Hightree, please - If you just moderate it a little. It's too harrowing. After all, this is only a massacre."

    "It was a theory that died very hard that the public would not stand for anyone dressed in clothes of another period....I got around this objection by staging what we call a vision. The poor working girl was dreaming of love and reading 'Tristan and Isolde.' The scene faded out, and scenes were depicted on the screen that the girl was supposed to be reading....Thus a bit of costume picture was put over on the man who bought the picture for his theater, and there was no protest from the public."
    Sunset Blvd. (1950) $10,000
    The Captive (1915) $500/week
    The Warrens of Virginia (1915) $500/week

    Mini Biography
    from Leonard Maltin's Movie Encyclopedia:
    To a generation of moviegoers, Cecil B. DeMille was the very image of a Hollywood producer-director. With his theatrical voice and manner, and his penchant for puttees, megaphones, and other such accoutrements, he fit the role to a tee, and perpetuated that image through appearances-as himself-in short subjects (like Hollywood Extra Girl), feature films (like Sunset Blvd), his own preview trailers, and on radio's popular weekly series "Lux Radio Theatre," which he hosted from 1936 to 1945.

    DeMille was, first and foremost, a showman; he was also a superb storyteller. He was sometimes accused of being simplistic, but that approach suited mass audiences just fine, and in the 1990s his 1956 production of The Ten Commandments still draws a formidable audience for its annual television broadcasts.

    He came from a theatrical family; his father, a clergyman, also wrote plays, and his mother had a touring theatrical troupe. When his older brother William enrolled in the Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City, he followed suit, learning his trade as an actor, then stage manager, and then playwright (with his brother) under the tutelage of famed impresario David Belasco in the early part of the 20th century. In 1913 he joined Jesse Lasky and Samuel Goldfish (later Goldwyn) to form the Jesse L. Lasky Feature Play Co. (the foundation of Paramount Pictures) and make a feature-length version of a play, "The Squaw Man." (1914). The Squaw Man has often been referred to as the first feature-length film and the first film to be made in Hollywood; neither statement is true. DeMille didn't even direct it himself; he collaborated with Oscar Apfel. But the film was indeed a great success, and helped put all three of its creators on their feet in the movie business.

    DeMille began blowing his own horn right from the start: he appeared on screen in prologues or curtain-raising sequences of some of his earliest films, establishing himself with audiences. In collaboration with art director Wilfred Buckland and cameraman Alvin Wyckoff, DeMille learned to tell his stories in cinematic terms, some of them quite bold and inventive for their time. Early features like The Warrens of Virginia, The Cheat (both 1915), Maria Rosa (1916), Joan the Woman, The Little American (both 1917), and The Whispering Chorus (1918) are still impressive today.

    In 1919 DeMille moved into the realm of social comedy with Don't Change Your Husband and Male and Female. The latter film included a now notorious scene of Gloria Swanson preparing for her bath and discreetly disrobing before the camera, with the help of a servant. The scene caused a sensation, and the canny DeMille followed up with a series of similar pictures, including Why Change Your Wife? (1920), The Affairs of Anatol (1921), and Saturday Night (1922).

    Gloria Swanson was one of many actors to benefit from exposure in DeMille films. He was responsible for making opera singer Geraldine Farrar, light comedienne Bebe Daniels, and leading men Wallace Reid and William Boyd first-rank stars, and while DeMille didn't discover Claudette Colbert or Charlton Heston, it was their work in his movies that solidified their stardom.

    A series of scandals rocked Hollywood in the early 1920s, and forced the industry to defend itself against accusations of being a modern-day Gomorrah. DeMille responded by making the cautionary melodrama Manslaughter (1922), and then The Ten Commandments (1923), which offered a modern-day morality tale with an elaborate Biblical flashback. He followed it, several years later, with a reverent production of The King of Kings (1927). To a publicly pious DeMille, there was no contradiction in having made saucy sex comedies just a few years earlier.

    In the mid-1920s he launched his own production company, for which he supervised a slate of films, and directed The Road to Yesterday (1925, featuring the first of many DeMille train wrecks), The Volga Boatman (1926), and other "run of the DeMille" pictures. With the coming of sound, he moved to MGM for the grandiose, high-camp Madam Satan (1930) and a surprisingly low-key, effective remake of The Squaw Man (1931). (He had already remade his cornerstone movie in 1918!)

    DeMille hit his stride once more when he returned to Paramount, where he would remain for the rest of his career. He drew on prior experience to mix historical drama with sex in The Sign of the Cross (1932) and Cleopatra (1934), as well as the somewhat tamer The Crusades (1935), and ventured into offbeat territory for the chilling vigilante tale This Day and Age (1933) and the endearingly silly romantic adventure yarn Four Frightened People (1934).

    For the most part, however, DeMille made nothing but "big" movies from that point on: big Westerns like The Plainsman (1936) and Union Pacific (1939), big costume adventures like The Buccaneer (1938) and Reap the Wild Wind (1942). With advancing age, he took more time on each new project, and his final films Samson and Delilah (1949), the circus saga The Greatest Show on Earth (1952, winner of the Best Picture Oscar), and The Ten Commandments (1956)-were, progressively, the biggest he'd ever tackled. (He produced a lavish remake of The Buccaneer in 1958, but gave his son-in-law Anthony Quinn the opportunity to direct.)

    DeMille became a hated figure to many in Hollywood through his heavyhanded wielding of power for political purposes, especially during the McCarthy era, but even his worst enemies admitted that as a showman he was unsurpassed. When he died in 1959 it was truly the end of an epoch in the Hollywood he helped to create. His memoir, "The Autobiography of Cecil B. DeMille" was published posthumously in 1959. His daughter Katherine DeMille had a minor acting career, starting in her father's films in the 1930s.
    Copyright © 1994 Leonard Maltin, used by arrangement with Signet, a division of Penguin Putnam, Inc.

    1. The Buccaneer (1958) (executive producer) (uncredited)
    2. The Ten Commandments (1956) (producer)
    3. The War of the Worlds (1953) (executive producer) (uncredited)
    4. The Greatest Show on Earth (1952) (producer)
    ... aka Cecil B. DeMille's The Greatest Show on Earth (USA: complete title)
    5. When Worlds Collide (1951) (executive producer) (uncredited)
    6. Samson and Delilah (1949) (producer)
    7. Unconquered (1947) (producer)
    8. The Story of Dr. Wassell (1944) (producer)
    9. Reap the Wild Wind (1942) (producer) (as Cecil B. De Mille)
    ... aka Cecil B. DeMille's Reap the Wild Wind (USA: complete title)
    10. North West Mounted Police (1940) (producer)
    ... aka Northwest Mounted Police
    ... aka The Scarlet Riders
    11. Union Pacific (1939) (producer)
    12. The Buccaneer (1938) (producer)
    13. The Plainsman (1936) (producer)
    14. The Crusades (1935) (producer)
    15. Cleopatra (1934) (producer)
    16. Four Frightened People (1934) (producer)
    17. This Day and Age (1933) (producer) (uncredited)
    18. The Sign of the Cross (1932) (producer) (as Cecil B. De Mille)
    19. The Squaw Man (1931) (producer) (as Cecil B. De Mille)
    ... aka The White Man (UK)
    20. Madam Satan (1930) (producer)
    21. Dynamite (1929) (producer)
    22. The Godless Girl (1929) (producer)
    23. Hold 'Em Yale (1928) (producer)
    ... aka At Yale
    24. Let 'Er Go Gallegher (1928) (executive producer)
    ... aka Gallegher (UK)
    25. The Fighting Eagle (1927) (executive producer)
    26. The King of Kings (1927) (producer)
    27. The Yankee Clipper (1927) (producer)
    28. White Gold (1927) (producer)
    29. The Cruise of the Jasper B (1926) (producer)
    30. Her Man o' War (1926) (producer)
    31. The Volga Boatman (1926) (producer)
    32. Whispering Smith (1926) (producer)
    33. The Road to Yesterday (1925) (producer)
    34. The Coming of Amos (1925) (producer)
    35. The Dressmaker from Paris (1925) (supervising producer)
    36. The Golden Bed (1925) (producer)
    37. Feet of Clay (1924) (producer)
    38. Triumph (1924) (producer)
    39. The Ten Commandments (1923) (producer)
    40. Adam's Rib (1923) (producer)
    41. Manslaughter (1922) (producer)
    42. Saturday Night (1922) (producer)
    43. Fool's Paradise (1921) (producer)
    44. The Affairs of Anatol (1921) (producer) (as Cecil B. De Mille)
    ... aka A Prodigal Knight (UK)
    45. Forbidden Fruit (1921) (producer)
    46. Something to Think About (1920) (producer)
    47. Why Change Your Wife? (1920) (producer)
    48. Male and Female (1919) (producer)
    49. For Better, for Worse (1919) (producer)
    50. The Squaw Man (1918) (producer)
    51. Till I Come Back to You (1918) (producer)
    52. We Can't Have Everything (1918) (producer)
    53. Old Wives for New (1918) (producer)
    54. The Whispering Chorus (1918) (producer)
    55. The Devil-Stone (1917) (producer)
    56. The Woman God Forgot (1917) (producer)
    57. The Little American (1917) (producer)
    58. A Romance of the Redwoods (1917) (producer)
    59. Lost and Won (1917) (producer)
    60. Joan the Woman (1917) (producer)
    61. The Dream Girl (1916) (producer)
    62. Maria Rosa (1916) (producer)
    63. The Heart of Nora Flynn (1916) (producer)
    64. The Trail of the Lonesome Pine (1916) (producer)
    65. The Golden Chance (1915) (producer)
    66. Temptation (1915) (producer)
    67. The Cheat (1915) (producer)
    68. Chimmie Fadden Out West (1915) (producer)
    69. Carmen (1915/I) (producer)
    70. Kindling (1915) (producer)
    71. Chimmie Fadden (1915) (producer)
    72. The Arab (1915) (producer)
    73. The Wild Goose Chase (1915) (producer) (uncredited)
    74. The Captive (1915) (producer)
    75. The Unafraid (1915) (producer) (uncredited)
    ... aka The Unexpected (USA: review title)
    76. The Warrens of Virginia (1915) (producer) (uncredited)
    77. The Girl of the Golden West (1915) (producer)
    78. The Ghost Breaker (1914) (producer)
    79. Rose of the Rancho (1914) (producer)
    80. The Man from Home (1914) (producer)
    81. What's His Name (1914) (producer)
    82. The Call of the North (1914) (producer) (uncredited)
    83. The Squaw Man (1914) (producer) (uncredited)
    ... aka The White Man (UK)

    1. The Ten Commandments (1956)
    2. The Greatest Show on Earth (1952)
    ... aka Cecil B. DeMille's The Greatest Show on Earth (USA: complete title)
    3. Samson and Delilah (1949)
    4. California's Golden Beginning (1948)
    5. Unconquered (1947)
    6. The Story of Dr. Wassell (1944)
    7. Reap the Wild Wind (1942) (as Cecil B. De Mille)
    ... aka Cecil B. DeMille's Reap the Wild Wind (USA: complete title)
    8. North West Mounted Police (1940)
    ... aka Northwest Mounted Police
    ... aka The Scarlet Riders
    9. Union Pacific (1939)
    10. The Buccaneer (1938)
    11. The Plainsman (1936)
    12. The Crusades (1935)
    13. Cleopatra (1934)
    14. Four Frightened People (1934)
    15. This Day and Age (1933)
    16. The Sign of the Cross (1932) (as Cecil B. De Mille)
    17. The Squaw Man (1931) (as Cecil B. De Mille)
    ... aka The White Man (UK)
    18. Madam Satan (1930)
    19. Dynamite (1929)
    20. The Godless Girl (1929)
    21. Walking Back (1928) (uncredited)
    22. The King of Kings (1927)
    23. The Volga Boatman (1926)
    24. The Road to Yesterday (1925)
    25. The Golden Bed (1925)
    26. Feet of Clay (1924)
    27. Triumph (1924)
    28. The Ten Commandments (1923)
    29. Adam's Rib (1923)
    30. Manslaughter (1922)
    31. Saturday Night (1922)
    32. Fool's Paradise (1921)
    33. The Affairs of Anatol (1921) (uncredited)
    ... aka A Prodigal Knight (UK)
    34. Forbidden Fruit (1921)
    35. Something to Think About (1920)
    36. Why Change Your Wife? (1920)
    37. Male and Female (1919) (uncredited)
    38. For Better, for Worse (1919)
    39. Don't Change Your Husband (1919)
    40. The Squaw Man (1918)
    41. Till I Come Back to You (1918)
    42. We Can't Have Everything (1918)
    43. Old Wives for New (1918)
    44. The Whispering Chorus (1918)
    45. The Devil-Stone (1917)
    46. Nan of Music Mountain (1917) (uncredited)
    47. The Woman God Forgot (1917)
    48. The Little American (1917) (uncredited)
    49. A Romance of the Redwoods (1917)
    50. Lost and Won (1917) (uncredited)
    51. Joan the Woman (1917)
    52. The Dream Girl (1916)
    53. Maria Rosa (1916)
    54. The Heart of Nora Flynn (1916)
    55. The Trail of the Lonesome Pine (1916)
    56. The Golden Chance (1915)
    57. Temptation (1915)
    58. The Cheat (1915) (uncredited)
    59. Chimmie Fadden Out West (1915)
    60. Carmen (1915/I)
    61. Kindling (1915)
    62. Chimmie Fadden (1915)
    63. The Arab (1915)
    64. The Wild Goose Chase (1915)
    65. The Captive (1915)
    66. The Unafraid (1915)
    ... aka The Unexpected (USA: review title)
    67. The Warrens of Virginia (1915)
    68. After Five (1915)
    69. The Girl of the Golden West (1915)
    70. The Ghost Breaker (1914)
    71. Rose of the Rancho (1914)
    72. The Man from Home (1914)
    73. What's His Name (1914)
    74. The Virginian (1914)
    75. The Call of the North (1914)
    76. The Man on the Box (1914) (co-director) (uncredited)
    77. The Only Son (1914)
    78. The Master Mind (1914) (uncredited)
    79. Brewster's Millions (1914)
    80. The Squaw Man (1914) (uncredited)
    ... aka The White Man (UK)

    1. The Heart of Show Business (1957) .... Narrator
    2. Son of Paleface (1952) (uncredited) .... Photographer
    3. The Greatest Show on Earth (1952) (voice) (uncredited) .... Narrator
    ... aka Cecil B. DeMille's The Greatest Show on Earth (USA: complete title)
    4. Unconquered (1947) (uncredited) .... Narrator
    5. The Story of Dr. Wassell (1944) (uncredited) .... Voice of Narrator
    6. Reap the Wild Wind (1942) (voice) (uncredited) .... Prologue Speaker
    ... aka Cecil B. DeMille's Reap the Wild Wind (USA: complete title)
    7. North West Mounted Police (1940) (voice) (uncredited) .... Narrator
    ... aka Northwest Mounted Police
    ... aka The Scarlet Riders
    8. The Last Train from Madrid (1937) (uncredited) .... Extra in Crowd Scene
    9. Madam Satan (1930) (voice) (uncredited) .... Radio Newscaster
    10. The Squaw Man (1914) (uncredited) .... Faro Dealer
    ... aka The White Man (UK)

    Best Wishes
    London- England

    Edited 3 times, last by ethanedwards ().

  • Cecil B De Mille, only made one film with Duke,

    Reap the Wild Wind(1942)


    Cecil B DeMille, made just this one film as Director and Producer,
    but has to have a mention, as he was such a prolific man in the industry.
    DeMille became a hated figure to many in Hollywood through his heavy handed wielding of power for political purposes, especially during the McCarthy era, but even his worst enemies admitted that as a showman he was unsurpassed. When he died in 1959 it was truly the end of an epoch in the Hollywood he helped to create.


    "You are here to please me. Nothing else on earth matters." -C.B. to his crew

    Duke feared, he would end up in a supporting role,

    Duke told De Mille,


    The only reason, you're calling me over here, is to make Ray Milland, look like a man.

    The director asked Duke to trust him, telling him that he had considered, Errol Flynn, Fred MacMurray, and George Brent.,
    but had decided on Duke, after seeing Dark Command
    Duke's performance was excellent, and did much to to establish the actors appeal, to a wider, middle class audience.
    Duke was grateful, to work in such an important film, with a distinguished cast.

    Later, Duke wrote to DeMille,


    My appearance in Reap the Wild Wind, was the highlight of my career

    Best Wishes
    London- England

    Edited once, last by ethanedwards ().

  • An earlier thread I found:-

    See you along the trail,



    Old August 15th, 2003
    Hondo Duke Lane

    A great director, and one that Duke respected very much. I've read that they couldn't get together again for another project because DeMille was really working on epics, and Duke on mainly westerns and war movies. I've read that Duke wanted DeMille to direct The Alamo, but died before filming. Very interesting stuff.

    Thanks Chester

    Cheers, Hondo B)


    Old August 20th, 2003

    Demille is one of the Hollywood greats that I can't seem to put a face to. I'll have to gather up WOTRW and watch it.

    Best Wishes
    London- England

  • Hi

    For the background story of Reap the Wild Wind read Jessie Laskey's book 'Whatever Happened to Hollywood'.
    Laskey tell how the scripwriters had no idea how to finish the film and De Mille never patient at best was getting more and more irritated particularly as he knew that the two men didn't have a clue how to finish the film.

    As a last resort he took them onto his yacht and left them to work. He then went to them insinuating that they were floundering and demanded that the tell him the plot.

    One of the scriptwriters pulled the giant squid out of the air and between them they improvised the ending.

    DeMille was delighted.



    Walk Tall - Talk Low

  • I like the movie, and also prefer De Mille's directing over Pappy Ford's. I know that heresy here, but each one is allowed their opinion.
    If De Mille directed Duke in 10 films, I bet he would have won more Oscars. De Mille was never cookie cutter which I feel Ford was, and what robbed Duke of many Oscars. IMHO.

  • If De Mille directed Duke in 10 films, I bet he would have won more Oscars. De Mille was never cookie cutter which I feel Ford was, and what robbed Duke of many Oscars. IMHO.

    I won't take your bet, whose to say? Mr DeMille was more on the "inside" in Hollywood than Ford. But, Duke was way out, politically, in Hollywood, so, I think that would have had more of an effect than the director.

    Chester :newyear:

    Suddenly, as we approach Christmas, Chester's signature smilie makes more sense.