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Cecil B. DeMille Biography

  • Profession: Producer, Director, Editor, Screenwriter
  • Born: Aug 12, 1881
  • Died: Jan 21, 1959
  • Birth Name: Cecil Blount de Mille

An actor and general manager with his mother's theatrical troupe since the mid-1900s, Cecil B. DeMille formed a filmmaking partnership in 1913 with vaudeville artist [[Performer~P98810~Jesse L. Lasky~jesselasky]] and businessman [[Performer~P91976~Samuel Goldfish~samuelgoldwyn]] (soon to be known as [[Performer~P91976~Samuel Goldwyn~samuelgoldwyn]]). Their first venture was [[Feature~V111519~The Squaw Man~thesquawman]] (1914), which DeMille co-directed, co-wrote and co-produced with [[Performer~P79791~Oscar Apfel~oscarapfel]]. This successful and elaborate six-reeler launched DeMille on a lifelong career in films. His first solo effort was the Western [[Feature~V115669~The Virginian~thevirginian]] (1914), which he also co-scripted. He edited and wrote (or co-wrote) almost all his successful films, with the notable exception of the popular melodrama [[Feature~V9045~The Cheat~thecheat]] (1915). Writer [[Performer~P220252~Jeanie Macpherson~jeaniemacpherson]] began working for DeMille in 1914 with [[Feature~V86663~The Captive~thecaptive]] (1915), and wrote most of his later silent films: hits that included witty romantic farces ([[Feature~V89745~Don't Change Your Husband~dontchangeyourhusband]]); epic morality tales that combined modern dramas with visions of history (Joan the Woman [1916]) or the Bible (The Ten Commandments [1923]); and perhaps DeMille's greatest artistic success, the handsome and moving life of Christ, [[Feature~V27430~The King of Kings~thekingofkings]] (1927). [[Performer~P220252~Macpherson~jeaniemacpherson]] also wrote the director's first three talkies, ending their collaboration in 1930 with the bizarre comedy [[Feature~V30670~Madam Satan~madamesatan]] (1930). DeMille continued to score hits in the '30s with epics ([[Feature~V128980~Sign of the Cross~thesignofthecross]] [1932], [[Feature~V9963~Cleopatra~cleopatra]] [1934]) and Westerns ([[Feature~V38286~The Plainsman~theplainsman]] [1937], [[Feature~V115174~Union Pacific~unionpacific]] [1939]). His output became more sporadic during the '40s, but he still pleased the public with his rugged action films [[Feature~V104280~Northwest Mounted Police~northwestmountedpolice]] (1940) and [[Feature~V40582~Reap the Wild Wind~reapthewildwind]] (1942). DeMille's last three films -- [[Feature~V42719~Samson and Delilah~samsonanddelilah]] (1950), [[Feature~V20838~The Greatest Show on Earth~thegreatestshowonearth]] (1952), and The Ten Commandments (1956), a remake of his 1923 movie of the same name -- were the most successful releases of their respective years. DeMille's final directorial effort, The Ten Commandments was also the decade's box-office champ. He died in 1959 at the age of 77; his memoir, The Autobiography of Cecil B. DeMille, was published posthumously later that year. ~ Rovi