Cecil B. DeMille
Date created: April 2010
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Cecil B. DeMille Timeline
1725He 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.
1890Biography in: John Wakeman, editor. "World Film Directors, Volume One, 1890-1945". Pages 207-222. New York: The H.W. Wilson Company, 1987.
1913His son, John Blount Demille, was born in 1913. He was of Spanish descent.
1914He 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).
1920He 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.
1925President of DeMille Pictures Corp., formed in 1925.
1934A 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.
1935Stuntman Jack Montgomery, who played a Christian cavalryman in DeMille's The Crusades (1935), recalled in an interview the tension that existed between DeMille and the dozens of stuntmen hired to do the battle scenes. They resented what they saw as DeMille's cavalier attitude about safety, especially as several stuntmen had been injured, and several horses had been killed, because of what they perceived to be DeMille's indifference. At one point DeMille was standing on the parapets of the castle, yelling through his megaphone at the "combatants" gathered below. One of them, who had been hired for his expertise at archery, finally tired of DeMille's screaming at them, notched an arrow into his bow and fired it at DeMille's megaphone, the arrow embedding itself into the device just inches from DeMille's head. He quickly left the set and didn't come back that day. He came back the next day, but for the rest of the picture, DeMille never yelled at the stuntmen again.
1936Was 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.
1940Beginning in 1940 and continuing on to the end of his career, DeMille always narrated his films.
1949DeMille 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."
1949Before 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.
1952An 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.
1956After 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.
1956To promote The Ten Commandments (1956), 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.
2010Profiled in "American Classic Screen Profiles" by John C. Tibbets and James M. Welch.