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California: Relics from DeMille's 'Ten Commandments' set unveiled

June 18, 2013|By Jay Jones
  • An actress' compact, discarded on the set of Cecil B. DeMille's epic film "The Ten Commandments," is among the artifacts on display at the Dunes Center in Guadalupe, Calif.
An actress' compact, discarded on the set of Cecil B. DeMille's… (Dunes Center )

A small museum in Guadalupe, Calif., has unveiled some long-lost relics from Cecil B. DeMille’s classic silent movie “The Ten Commandments.”

Most of the massive set remains buried in the coastal dunes outside Guadalupe in northern Santa Barbara County. When DeMille shot the film in 1923, he left behind the towering City of the Pharaoh, which stood 120 feet tall and included 21 sphinxes, each weighing 5 tons.

The head from one of those sphinxes, measuring 3 1/2  by 6 feet, was among the artifacts revealed during a celebration on Friday at the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Center. It’s in a 1910 Craftsman house along Highway 1.

 "This is the only set of its type from early Hollywood that still exists,” Doug Jenzen, executive director of the center, said in a news release.

A giant concrete lion’s paw is among the other ruins unearthed in October from the shifting sands.

The Dunes Center and documentary filmmaker Peter Brosnan, who has spent 30 years researching what is known as DeMille’s “Lost City,” coordinated the archaeological excavation. Brosnan and DeMille’s granddaughter, Cecile DeMille Presley, attended the unveiling.

Smaller items on display include an actress’s discarded compact and bottles of cough syrup. The film was shot during Prohibition when liquor was illegal, so cast and crew members made do with the alcohol-infused remedy.

The Dunes Center museum is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Thursdays-Sundays. Admission is free.

Info: (805) 343-2455.

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