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Thursday, Aug 22, 2019

Oscars 2019: History and origins of the red carpet

Oscars 2019: When it comes to the origins of the red carpet, most don’t know about its peculiar history, unlike the glamorous present it is associated with.

more-lifestyle Updated: Feb 24, 2019 15:16 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Delhi
The red carpet is the highlight of any awards function.
The red carpet is the highlight of any awards function.(Unsplash)

It’s one of the highlights of every award function, but do we really know about the origins of the red carpet?

Another question which arises is its changing colour. In certain instances, its colour changes to green or orange or another colour according to the event. For instance, for events which are to do with environmental issues, there is a ‘green carpet’ or in the case of the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards, an orange carpet is rolled out according to the channel’s primary colour. During the Video Music Awards, MTV uses a blue carpet.

But when it comes to the origins of the red carpet, most don’t know about its peculiar history, unlike the glamorous present it is associated with.


History behind the carpet

According to Greek playwright Aeschylus, the first written mention of a red carpet dates back to 458 BC. Agamemnon, king of Mycenae (in Greece) had gone to fight in the Trojan Wars. In the meantime, both he and his wife, Clytemnestra, found new lovers. Agamemnon brought home with him Cassandra, his new love.

Clytemnestra, extremely unhappy with the situation, had said, “Let all the ground be red / Where those feet pass; and Justice, dark of yore, / Home light him to the hearth he looks not for.” This is where the concept of the ‘red carpet’ being the ultimate stage began. According to differing versions, Clytemnestra either murders Clytemnestra or he is killed by her lover.

According to Amy Henderson, historian emeritus at the National Portrait Gallery, Washington, who spoke to CNN, the red carpet was next associated with the railroads, when in 1902, New York used crimson carpets in order to direct people who were boarding trains. This was mostly done for those who held a first class ticket.

The red carpet in Hollywood

The first time Hollywood used the red carpet was by theater tycoon Sid Grauman. It was on October 18, 1922 during the premiere of the movie, Robin Hood, a movie which at that time had cost a whopping $1 million.

After that, the red carpet started to become a common occurrence at premieres. However, it was finally in 1961 when Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences decided to add a red carpet as part of its television viewing spectacle.

In current times, events such as the Academy Awards, Golden Globe Awards, Grammy Awards and Met Gala all roll out the red carpet, and it is no longer only for film stars.

The world’s longest red carpet ever measured 6,358.60 meters and was used in the streets Almería, Spain and was included in The Guinness Book of Records. Generally, the phrase ‘red carpet treatment’ or ‘rolling out the red carpet’ is used to denote special efforts made when offering hospitality to someone.

And if you want to witness the red carpet at the Oscars this time, make sure you tune in on February 25 and witness the glamour in all its glory!

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First Published: Feb 24, 2019 15:15 IST

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