DEMILLE, CECIL BLOUNT

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DEMILLE, Cecil Blount(1881-1959), American film director and producer in both silent and sound films. He began his career in 1900 as a stage actor. The first silent film he directed was released in 1914, followed by dozens of silent films. In 1919, he directed Male and Female, a silent film made on Santa Cruz Island in 1919, starring a then unknown actress, Gloria Swanson. In 1929 DeMille transitioned to sound films. DeMille died of a heart attack at age 77 in 1959 and is buried in Hollywood Forever Cemetery.



In the News~

May 19, 1919 [SBDN]: “…All camping privileges on Santa Cruz [Island] have been leased from the Santa Cruz Island Company by Captain Eaton, according to the statement of Alonzo L. Swain, superintendent for the company, and campers’ permits are to be obtained from him… The beach at Fry’s Harbor, one of the most beautiful of the miniature harbors of Santa Cruz Island, is now being transformed into a tropical beach by the Lasky Motion Picture Company. Palm trees, bamboo, luxurious vegetation of all kinds has been brought there and is being transplanted to give the beach every appearance of a cannibal isle, which will figure prominently in a picture now being produced by the Lasky Company. Cecile DeMille’s company will spend three weeks at the harbor as soon as the work is completed making scenes for the picture on which they now are working.”


June 21, 1919 [LAT]: “Santa Cruz Island, at least a portion of it, has literally been changed in all but name since the arrival of the Famous Players Lasky Corporation to take scenes for the Admiral Crichton, the big picture production of the famous Barrie play. The film folk are busy shooting the scenes of the shipwreck, which forms so important a part of this unusual drama. Elaborate sets have been built to add realism to the location, in addition to strengthening the illusion of tropical verdure. The company will be busy for another week on their location. The scenes will require a longer time than originally anticipated, because of the difficulties encountered. In the first place the trip to the island was stormy, and landing proved troublesome business. After the sets had been erected a high windstorm wrought havoc for a day, but by spirited effort the large force of assistants that Mr. DeMille took with him managed to repair the damage quickly so that the filming of the scenes might be started. An unusually large company was taken to the islands by Mr. DeMille. Gloria Swanson is the star, with Tom Meighan as leading man. Other popular picture people in the play are Lila Lee, Mildred Reardon, Theodore Roberts and Raymond Hatton. Jesse L. Lansky, first vice-president of the film corporation, spent a day on the island, and returned sunburned but satisfied with the results.”


June 30, 1919 [LAT]: “Of all the nature-conquering contrivances known to mankind, the submarine is unlisted as among the possessions of Cecil B. DeMille, director-general of Famous Players Lasky. DeMille has just purchased a seagoing vessel, combination sailing and powerboat, that struck his fancy while filming the screen adaptation of J. M. Barrie’s Admirable Crichton on the tropical isle into which Santa Cruz Island has been transformed. When DeMille and his company of artists repaired to picturesque Santa Cruz Island on location, a trim craft was hired to make daily trips between the scene of the shooting and the laboratory at the Famous Players Lasky studios. So impressed was DeMille with the sixty-footer that he set about making it his own…”


October 29, 1919 [SBMP]: “Cecil DeMille, director general of the Famous Players Lasky corporation, is spending a week or so on Santa Cruz Island with a party of moving picture people. They sailed up from San Pedro in his yacht Sea Bee.”


October 30, 1919 [LAT]: “When Cecil DeMille’s great new picture, Male and Female, adapted from J. M. Barrie’s The Admirable Crichton, goes on in New York week after next, not only will Mr. De Mille himself be present, but as a reward for their hard work in the film, members of his staff of players at Lasky studio who enacted some of the leading roles will also be among those present with the thumbs-uppers on the opening night. Already Gloria Swanson and Thomas Meighan have flitted, and Mr. DeMille himself, who at present is taking a yachting trip, expects to return in time to leave Saturday morning…”


May 14, 1924 [TI/Avalon]: “Cecil B. DeMille came across the channel Saturday in his racing speedboat, Defiance, bringing some of his company to try out in Descanso Bay some stunts in aquaplaning, which were very successful, and were watched by quite a number of people. His yacht, the Seaward, also came over. Mr. DeMille will start work next week on a picture of which many scenes will be taken in the bay in front of the Hotel St. Catherine. Several local speedboats have been engaged.”


July 18, 1929 [SBMP]: “Two large yachts, the Seaward and Seyelyn, dropped anchor in Santa Barbara harbor yesterday. The Seaward, Cecil DeMille’s boat, stopped at the wharf to take on water and started for Santa Cruz Island where it will spend a day or two. The motion picture director was not on the boat. He was with it during a cruise off the Mexican coast two weeks ago.”