Cecil B. DeMille 18811959

Karl Struss (18861981)
Gelatin silver print, 1919

National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

Although Cecil B. DeMille trained as a stage actor and originally knew nothing about making motion pictures, he directed one of the first full-length films in Hollywood in 1914, an adaptation of a western play titled The Squaw Man. The previous year, DeMille had formed a partnership with Jesse Lasky and Samuel Goldwyn in the production company that later became Paramount Pictures.

A pioneering director and producer, he made seventy films over the course of his career that helped make Hollywood and California synonymous with the motion picture industry. Challenging traditional storylines, his films often caused outrage among some who believed he sacrificed his own morality for commercial success. In this publicity photograph, DeMille wears his trademark director’s uniform, which included riding boots and pants.