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How Wyoming Helped Make Hollywood the Movie Capital of the World

David Livingston, Getty Images
David Livingston, Getty Images

Here’s a fascinating story courtesy of Phil Roberts from the University of Wyoming history department.

Before he helped established Hollywood as the movie making capital of the world, legendary filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille cut his teeth with a touring theater company in the late 1800s.

The troupe travelled across the Union Pacific Railroad line, performing in opera houses all over the west, including several towns here in Wyoming.

At the time, motion pictures has just been introduced and DeMille invested in an upstart company producing silent movies.

His first project was a film called “Squaw Man”, which was inspired by an encounter between a fur trapper and an Indian tribe.

DeMille knew the perfect location to film his first movie; Laramie, Wyo.

Unfortunately, by the time he could gather a crew, winter had arrived and the weather forced DeMille to find a new location.

As fate would have it, DeMille read a classified newspaper advertisement promoting a ranch with a red barn located in the hills just outside of Los Angeles.

The area would later become known as Hollywood and, thanks to DeMille, it soon became the center of the rapidly growing film industry.

If only the timing had been better, perhaps Laramie, could have been the original “Tinseltown.”

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