Biography (Dictionary of World Biography: Twentieth Century)
Article abstract: Agnes de Mille, a pioneer in modern dance, was the first to integrate dance into theatrical productions and to make it accessible to the general public.
Agnes de Mille was born in 1905 in New York City into a family that was already deeply involved in the entertainment industry. Her father, William C. deMille, a playwright like his father before him, produced his first success at the age of twenty-five in collaboration with David Belasco. Her uncle was Cecil B. DeMille, the pioneering film producer. Anna George deMille, Agnes de Mille’s mother, was the daughter of the political economist Henry George; following in her father’s footsteps, she became an ardent Single-Taxer and a born crusader for various causes. The qualities of talent for the theater and crusading zeal became fused in Agnes and were controlling factors in her life.
In 1914, after one of his Broadway productions failed, William deMille accepted his brother Cecil’s invitation to join him in Hollywood and try his hand in the fledgling motion picture business. Anna deMille dutifully packed up her daughters, Agnes and her sister Margaret, and followed her husband into what she considered the “primitive” land of the West. Although Agnes was disappointed that Hollywood did not contain the expected cowboys and Indians, it was this relocation that would be the shaping factor in her life.
(The entire section is 2022 words.)
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