Charlton Heston’s original calf-length robe he wore as Moses in Cecil B. DeMille’s 1956 classic, The Ten Commandments, recently sold for $447,000 at Heritage Auctions.
The robe is made from heavy red, knobby goat’s hair fabric with black and white stripes woven in. While the design of the robe was influenced by many hands in the sprawling epic film, Arnold Friberg was a leading designer of the garment opting for the primary red color to contrast with the other sumptuous costumes in the production.
The fact that the red, white, and black color palette were the colors of the tribe of Levi, the actual tribe of Moses, was completely coincidental to the initial design. However, this distinctive design became a visual throughline in the film, appearing in the very beginning as baby Moses’ blanket and evolving into the garment Heston’s Moses wore while dramatically parting the Red Sea.
With a budget of $13 million, The Ten Commandments was, at the time, the most expensive film ever made. It was also one of the most financially successful, grossing approximately $122.7 million, around $1.2 billion in today’s money, at the box office in its initial run alone. The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards, winning for Best Effects.
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