Demille, William Churchill
- (1878-1955)Born in Washington, North Carolina, William Churchill deMille (who altered the family name from DeMille) attended Columbia University and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Along with his brother, Cecil B. DeMille, deMille embarked on a career as a playwright, following the lead of their father, Henry Churchill DeMille. Their collaborations, including the comedy The Genius (1906) failed, so Cecil focused exclusively on a motion picture directing career, while William wrote several successful plays, the first of which, Strongheart (1905), offered a rare exploration of interracial love between a white girl and a Native American man. In collaboration with Margaret Turnbull, deMille scored a success with a West Point comedy, Classmates (1907), before an even greater hit with his solo work, The Warrens of Virginia (1907), a romantic Civil War melodrama. Two more failures in collaboration with his brother, The Royal Mounted (1908) and After Five (1913), sent him to Hollywood despite a final theatrical triumph with The Woman (1911), an indictment of political corruption. Subsequent plays, A Tragedy of the Future (1913), Food (1913), After Five (1913), Poor Old Jim (1929), and Hallowe'en (1936), were all short-lived. With his first wife, Anna George, deMille fathered choreographer Agnes de Mille (who again altered the family name).
The Historical Dictionary of the American Theater. James Fisher.
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