William C. deMille
William Churchill deMille
July 25, 1878
|Died||March 5, 1955 (aged 76)|
|Occupation||Screenwriter, film director|
(m. 1903; div. 1927)
|Children||Agnes de Mille|
|Parent(s)||Henry Churchill de Mille|
|Relatives||Cecil B. DeMille (brother)|
Katherine DeMille (niece)
Richard de Mille (nephew)
William Churchill deMille (July 25, 1878 – March 5, 1955), also spelled de Mille or De Mille, was an American screenwriter and film director from the silent film era through the early 1930s. He was also a noted playwright prior to moving into film. Once he was established in film he specialized in adapting Broadway plays into silent films.
De Mille was born in Washington, North Carolina, to Henry Churchill de Mille, an actor and playwright from North Carolina, and Matilda Beatrice Samuel, who was also a play and screenwriter. His father was a Christian whilst his mother was born to a German-Jewish family in Liverpool but converted to her husband's faith.
William was the elder brother of Cecil B. DeMille, who altered the capitalization of his last name when he went to Hollywood, claiming that it fit better on marquees. (William continued to be known as "de Mille", and his daughter Agnes also chose "de Mille".) William received a bachelor's degree from Columbia University followed by graduate studies at the Academy of Dramatic Arts, at schools in Germany, and a second stint at Columbia studying under Brander Matthews.
In 1903, he married Anna Angela George, the daughter of notable economist Henry George. Anna and William had two children, Agnes de Mille – named after a younger sister who died in childhood – who became a noted choreographer and Peggy George, who became an actress.
William had nine plays he wrote or co-wrote – one of them with Cecil – produced on Broadway between 1905 and 1913, and another two productions mounted in 1929 and 1936, the latter of which he produced and directed as well.
His first play, Strongheart was eventually released as a movie by his brother as Braveheart (1925). Two of William's works, The Warrens of Virginia (1907) and The Woman (1911) were produced by the flamboyant impresario David Belasco. The former featured future film star Mary Pickford and Cecil, both struggling actors playing minor roles.
Cecil eventually moved to Hollywood, and William followed. His directorial debut was The Only Son (1914).
In 1998, Richard de Mille, who had grown up in Cecil's household, revealed in the memoir My Secret Mother, Lorna Moon that William C. deMille was his father and screenwriter Moon his biological mother. Richard had been adopted by Cecil B. and Constance DeMille to avoid a family scandal.
With Douglas Fairbanks, he co-hosted the 1st Academy Awards in 1929, and he solely hosted the 2nd Academy Awards the following year. He served as President of the Academy briefly. DeMille helped found the USC Film School in 1929, and after his East Coast theatrical career failed to revive in the early 1930s, he was active on the faculty there until his death.
- The House of Discord (1913) (author of play)
- The Only Son (1914)
- Rose of the Rancho (1914) (actor)
- Strongheart (1914) (play)
- Young Romance (1915) (author of play)
- The Goose Girl (1915) (screenwriter)
- The Woman (1915) (author of play)
- The Wild Goose Chase (1915) (story/screenwriter)
- Carmen (1915) (screenwriter)
- The Ragamuffin (1916)
- The Sowers (1916)
- Anton the Terrible (1916)
- The Heir to the Hoorah (1916)
- Maria Rosa (1916) (screenwriter)
- The Secret Game (1917)
- For Better, for Worse (1919) (screenwriter)
- Peg o' My Heart (1919) (completed but never released due to legal matters)
- The Tree of Knowledge (1920)
- Jack Straw (1920)
- Conrad in Quest of His Youth (1920)
- Why Change Your Wife? (1920) (screenwriter)
- Midsummer Madness (1921)
- What Every Woman Knows (1921)
- After the Show (1921)
- Miss Lulu Bett (1921)
- Bought and Paid For (1922)
- A Trip to Paramountown (1922 short)
- Nice People (1922)
- Clarence (1922)
- Grumpy (1923)
- Icebound (1924)
- Classmates (1924) (author of 1907 play)
- Men and Women (1925)
- Lost: A Wife (1925)
- New Brooms (1925)
- The Runaway (1926)
- For Alimony Only (1926)
- The Little Adventuress (1927)
- Tenth Avenue (1928)
- Craig's Wife (1928)
- The Idle Rich (1929)
- Passion Flower (1930) (director and producer)
- "W.C. De Mille, 76, Playwright, Dies. Author Of 'The Warrens Of Virginia' Was Brother Of Noted Film Producer". New York Times. March 6, 1955.
- William C. deMille bio by Hal Erickson at allrovi.com
- Hischak, Thomas S. (May 6, 2004). The Oxford Companion to American Theatre. Oxford University Press. p. 171. ISBN 978-0-19-516986-7.
- Michael Schwartz (2007). A Matter for Experts: Broadway 1900--1920 and the Rise of the Professional Managerial Class. ProQuest. pp. 107–114. ISBN 978-0-549-45115-0.
- "The new play…". Chicago Daily Tribune. Chicago, IL. October 2, 1904. p. 1. Retrieved August 19, 2014.
- William C. deMille at the Internet Broadway Database
- "Hallowe'en (1936)", Internet Broadway Database; accessed December 28, 2017.
- "The Warrens of Virginia (1907)" on the Internet Broadway Database; accessed December 29, 2017.
- "The Woman (1911)", IBDB.com; accessed December 29, 2017.
- Powell, William S. (ed.) Dictionary of North Carolina Biography: Vol. 2, D-G, pg. 52 (1986); accessed December 29, 2017.
- "Wife Divorces William C. DeMille". New York Times. August 6, 1927.
- deMille, William C. (2007). "24: The Excitements of Celluloid: The Camel's Nose". In Peter Wild (ed.). The Grumbling Gods: a Palm Springs Reader. Salt Lake City, UT: University of Utah Press. ISBN 978-0-87480-899-5. OCLC 122974473, 608203796, 608020250 (print and on-line), quoting deMille in Hollywood Saga. New York, NY: E. P. Dutton. 1939. pp. 319. OCLC 1353346. (Rouben Mamoulian Collection (Library of Congress) First edition OCLC 655475937) (Also catalogued at OCLC 494267566, 475574309; and OCLC 591194207 (eBook)); and see The Heir to the Hoorah at the American Film Institute Catalog
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