Cecil B. DeMille is one of the most innovative and renowned director-producers of all time, and paved the path for many aspiring Hollywood filmmakers. Tonight, Meryl Streep will receive the Cecil B. DeMille Award for outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment at the 2017 Golden Globes. DeMille was the first to receive the award, and it was later named in his honor. The Cecil B. DeMille been given out to to some of the most successful entertainers in the world since the early 1950s, and last year, it was awarded to Denzel Washington, who has been nominated for Best Actor in a Drama Motion Picture this year for his work in the film, Fences.
Read on to learn more about Cecil B. DeMille.
1. He Made 70 Feature Films in 43 Years
Cecil Blount DeMille was born on August 12, 1881, in Ashfield, Massachusetts. His father, Henry, was a playwright and Episcopal lay minister, and his mother, Beatrice, was an educator and the second female play broker in the United States. He had two siblings– an older brother, William, and a sister, Agnes.
In 1893, Henry DeMille died from typhoid fever, and two years later, his sister Agnes died of spinal meningitis. Cecil attended Pennsylvania Military College, and then studied acting at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, where he graduated from in 1900.
DeMille was a trailblazer in the world of entertainment– he was the first to use theatrical lighting on a film set, and one of the first directors to use a microphone boom for sound. Between 1914 and 1956, DeMille made seventy feature films, including The King of Kings, Samson and Delilah, and The Ten Commandments. He is particularly well-known for his silent films of different genres, and for being the subject of the famous image of a director with a megaphone in his hand, wearing boots and a cap from the film The Ten Commandments.
2. He and His Co-Star Married and Had Four Children, Three of Whom Were Adopted
In August of 1902, DeMille married his co-star, Constance Adams, from Hearts Are Trumps. The two had four children, three of whom were adopted.
DeMille died of heart failure on January 21, 1959. He was entombed at the Hollywood Memorial Cemetery.
3. He Made His Acting Debut in 1900
DeMille made his Broadway acting debut on February 21, 1900, in the comedy Hearts Are Trumps, where he met his future wife. Over the course of his life, he appeared in about ten plays.
His first play The Genius, was produced in 1906, and a few years later, he met Jesse L. Lasky, who convinced him to direct a film. DeMille’s first movie, The Squaw Man, was released in 1914. According to a site made in honor of DeMille, he used its revenue to make thirty films between 1914 and 1917.
4. He Started a Commercial Airline
DeMille was a man of many talents.
In 1919, he founded Mercury Aviation, a commercial airline in California. He was also also involved in real estate, politics, and banking– DeMille was the president of the Bank of Italy in Culver City.
5. He Co-Founded Paramount Pictures
Lasky and DeMille partnered with Adolph Zukor to found Paramount Pictures, through which he created the film The Ten Commandments. According to a 1959 article in the Montreal Gazette, the film generated more revenue than any other Paramount movie for 25 years.
In 1952, DeMille made The Greatest Show on Earth, which won on Oscar for Best Picture. He has received many accolades for his work over the years, and was awarded an Academy Honorary Award for his lifetime achievement in the world of cinema.