DispL.A. Case #45: Cecil B. DeMille’s Riding Crop


The history of Los Angeles as told through 232 objects.

Los Angeles was founded on September 4, 1781. Between now and the 232nd anniversary, we are gathering the stories behind iconic objects that help explain our city. Los Angeles is older than Chicago, Atlanta or Washington, D.C. In fact, when L.A.’s founders were gathering at El Pueblo, New York City was still occupied by the British army. We have a long story to tell, let’s take a look back and see where the city came from. Feel free to add to this exhibition. Email your ideas to [email protected]

Cecil B. DeMille directed the first feature film shot in Hollywood. The Squaw Man was shot in a rented barn near Sunset and Vine. The hit movie made DeMille’s career and led to the birth of Paramount Pictures, bible epics, and the trope of a demanding director clutching a riding crop and a megaphone. At the start of the silent film era, the 32-year-old director, described as a taskmaster who demanded perfection, remade Squaw Man twice. In the early years, DeMille lived in the rural canyons near what would become the Hollywood Bowl . He rode a horse down the Cahuenga Pass to the makeshift studio and the image stuck. This riding crop (and a pair of gaiters) is on display in that same barn, which today is the Hollywood Heritage Museum.    


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