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"B" AS IN BARNUM 317 wood." To the very end his career bristled with combat, in a medley of conflicting legends swirling around him like match- sticks in an eddy. He created a number of these legends him- self, only to deny them stoutly in late years when the mantle of world prestige rested comfortably on his shoulders. To those far removed from the Hollywood scene, the life of this fabled man will seem unreal. Some may find it hard to accept the existence of such a wildly unfettered temperament. Yet this brilliant self-promoter, this modern-day Renaissance prince surrounded by obedient mercenaries was the man who produced pictures that thrilled millions of persons all over the world. A few years ago an able writer was commissioned to do a serious biographical study of DeMille. DeMille read it, an- grily hurled it into the wastebasket On its title page he had written, "I get the impression I have never had a pleasant mo- ment in my life—except when torturing someone." His own staff never really understood the scope of his efforts to achieve the extraordinary. On one occasion an aide was asked what he thought of an episode in the Book of Esther, which DeMille was considering as a film story at the time. The aide remarked that the Biblical tale had interesting possibilities. "In- teresting possibilities!" the director lashed out. '"Why you've missed the whole point. Think of it, one thousand virgins stand- ing in the courtyard, and the King of Babylon has his choice!" Again, trying out a story idea on a couple of new writers: "This is not a religious story, it's a Bible story, but above every- thing else it's a love story. There is a great message in it, a hu- man message of love. It's not a message that has to do with any sect. It's not how the Jews were rescued by Moses. It's a story of human relations of two people. It's just a damn good hot tale, so don't get a lot of these, thous and thums in your mind." He was aware that his staff found life fraught with anxieties and tensions and, like Nero's lieutenants, remained with him because of the prestige that came with serving him. He did not expect the staff to approve of his methods, once admonishing an