Cecil B. DeMille

The son of two playwrights, Cecil B. DeMille (Aug. 12, 1881-Jan. 21, 1959) was born in Ashfield, Mass., and attended the New York Academy of Dramatic Arts when his youth prevented him from taking part in the Spanish-American War. In 1913, he entered a partnership with Jesse L. Lasky and Samuel Goldwyn, and together they made DeMille's first film, The Squaw Man, in 1914.

Thus began an almost 50-year career spanning silent films, talkies, domestic comedies and biblical epics. DeMille spent his early career directing romantic comedies such as Don't Change Your Husband, but it was epics that most interested him, and over the years he made a slew of them, including The King of Kings (1927).

DeMille continued to work steadily during the next three decades on movies such as The Sign of the Cross (1932), The Greatest Show on Earth (earning a Best Director Oscar) and The Ten Commandments (1956).