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Cecil B. DeMille

Cecil B. DeMille

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.

After The Ten Commandments (1956), his remake of his earlier The Ten Commandments (1923), DeMille began work on a project about Lord Robert Baden-Powell and the Boy Scout movement, but eventually abandoned it in favor of The Buccaneer (1958). The actor he had in mind to play Baden-Powell was David Niven.

Although married to wife Constance for fifty-six 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, but preferred to live with their children in the main house.

An active supporter of the practice of blacklisting real or alleged Communists, progressives and other "subversives", in 1952 DeMille attempted to get Joseph L. Mankiewicz removed as President of the Directors Guild because he would not endorse the DeMille-inspired loyalty oath. Directors George Stevens and John Ford managed to block DeMille's efforts.

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.



Before casting of Victor Mature as the male lead of Samson and Delilah (1949), DeMille considered using a then unknown bodybuilder 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, but a clash between Reeves and the studio over his physique killed that possibility. Almost a decade later, Reeves found fame and stardom appearing in Le fatiche di Ercole (1958) (released in the USA as "Hercules") and many other Italian films.

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

DeMille is the subject of many Hollywood legends. According to one famous story, DeMille once directed a film that required a huge, expensive battle scene. Filming on location in a California valley, the director set up multiple cameras to capture the action from every angle. It was a sequence that could only be done once. When DeMille yelled "Action!," thousands of extras playing soldiers stormed across the field, firing their guns. Riders on horseback galloped over the hills. Cannons fired, pyrotechnic explosives were blown up, and battle towers loaded with soldiers came toppling down. The whole sequence went off perfectly. At the end of the scene, DeMille yelled "Cut!" He was then informed, to his horror, that three of the four cameras recording the battle sequence had failed. In Camera #1, the film had broken. Camera #2 had missed shooting the sequence when a dirt clod was kicked into the lens by a horse's hoof. Camera #3 had been destroyed when a battle tower had fallen on it. DeMille was at his wit's end when he suddenly remembered that he still had Camera #4, which he had had placed along with a cameraman on a nearby hill to get a long shot of the battle sequence. DeMille grabbed his megaphone and called up to the cameraman, "Did you get all that?" The cameraman on the hill waved and shouted back, "Ready when you are, C.B.!&#x

DeMille was buried alongside brother William C. de Mille at Hollywood Cemetary. Among the pallbearers were Adolph Zukor, Samuel Goldwyn and Henry Wilcoxon.

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

Died the same day as Carl 'Alfalfa' Switzer.

During his silent movie days, DeMille wanted to film a romantic scene on a California beach. His plan was to film the hero and heroine walking together on the beach as the sun slowly rose over the ocean behind them. He instructed his cameramen to "film the perfect sunrise." However, his cameramen informed him that this would be impossible - the sun does not *rise* over the ocean in California. It *sets!* "Well, then get me a sun-*set*," said DeMille. "We'll use rear-screen projection, and run the film in reverse so it looks like the sun is *rising* in the background." DeMille's camera crew went to the beach and filmed the sun setting over the ocean. A few days later, DeMille filmed the scene with the two actors on a movie soundstage made up to look like the beach. The on-location film of the Pacific sunset was reversed and projected on a rear screen, so that it looked as if the sun was rising slowly on the horizon behind the two actors. The scene was filmed in one take, and DeMille was ecstatic. The following day, DeMille and his crew gathered in a studio screening room to watch the scene. The film looked perfect - until DeMille noticed something that literally reduced him to tears. The reversed "sunrise" behind the two actors looked spectacular - but the waves on the beach were flowing backwards into the ocean, and all the seag

Even when Cecil B. DeMille directed a contemporary story, he would frequently insert a sequence showing the same stars in a previous historical era, playing earlier incarnations of their modern-day characters. According to Gloria Swanson, who became a star in DeMille's films, he included these scenes because he genuinely believed in reincarnation.

Grandfather of Cecilia DeMille Presley.

He and his wife adopted daughter Katherine DeMille in 1920, when she was 9. He father had died in World War I and her mother died of tuberculosis. Her birth name was Katherine Lester.

He has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame: for motion pictures at 1725 Vine Street and for radio at 6240 Vine Street in Hollywood, California.

He is perhaps the only director to film two remakes of one of his films: The Squaw Man (1914) (the first film he ever directed), The Squaw Man (1918) and The Squaw Man (1931).

He was a staunch supporter of the Republican Party.

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

In another famous story, DeMille was on a movie set one day, about to film an important scene. He was giving a set of complicated instructions to a huge crowd of extras, when he suddenly noticed one female extra talking to another. Enraged, DeMille shouted at the extra, "Will you kindly tell everyone here what you are talking about that is so important?!" The extra replied, "I was just saying to my friend, 'I wonder when that bald-headed son of a bitch is going to call lunch.'" DeMille glared at the extra for a moment, then yelled, "Lunch!"

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