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Spectacular blast sinks DeMille

December 29, 2006

Dec. 29, 1922: Film director Cecil B. DeMille had high hopes for his new racing boat, the Miss Cecilia. But when he took the boat out in Los Angeles Harbor for its maiden trip to compete in the Garfield "Gar" Wood championship motorboat races, it "burned at the starting line," The Times reported.

The accident began with "a backfire which exploded the tanks under the seat," the newspaper said. "DeMille and his mechanician, Al Fear, literally were blasted out of the boat. DeMille kept Fear, who was unconscious, afloat until both were rescued."

Fear and DeMille, who had been piloting the boat, "received slight burns about the arms and face," The Times said.

The boat sank soon after the fire began and DeMille estimated the damage at $14,000, the newspaper noted, adding that the Miss Cecilia "was considered a fast craft and close contender for first honors in today's races."

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