Mormon studies, friendship, film, religion
Early in the twentieth century, what should have been a most unlikely friendship curiously evolved into a lifelong amiable relationship between world-renowned filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille and David O. McKay, President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In some ways, the two men were polar opposites. DeMille was an icon in the twentieth-century film industry who directed seventy motion pictures in an illustrious career that spanned over four decades. Dwelling in the midst of “Babylon” (Los Angeles), he was referred to as “Mr. Hollywood.” McKay presided from the heart of Latter-day Saint conservatism, Salt Lake City, dedicated to building Zion as prophet, seer, and revelator. Bringing the two men together was Latter-day Saint artist Arnold Friberg, set painter for DeMille’s epic film The Ten Commandments. Although DeMille had formed good relationships with other religious leaders, which was simply good business, his friendship with President McKay reveals a deeper and long-lasting bond. Through analysis of their private correspondence and public statements, instances of contact and sentiments shared by President McKay and DeMille emerge. This essay also traces how McKay’s friendship influenced DeMille to share a more positive image of the Latter-day Saints, which seems to have influenced American perception of the Church of Jesus Christ in the mid-twentieth century.
Woods, Fred E.
"Cecil B. DeMille and David O. McKay–an Unexpected Friendship,"
BYU Studies Quarterly: Vol. 57:
4, Article 5.
Available at: https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/byusq/vol57/iss4/5