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Red Carpet Wasn't Always About Awards, Film Festivals; Here's A Bit About Its History


Be it Bollywood or Hollywood, the red carpet is synonymous with prestige, status, style, and opulence with a whole lot of pomp for stars across film industries. Events such as the Oscars and Cannes Film Festivals as well as big awards ceremonies, gala events, and premieres around the world are big examples of it.

In addition, a red carpet is also linked with respect and honouring a person. Many often give the red-carpet treatment at events and restaurants to special guests, who are held in high esteem.

However, the red carpet wasn’t always linked to awards shows and ceremonies. It goes back to Greek tragedy in 458 BC, when it was used for high-ranking dignitaries and royals.

According to a BBC report, the first known red-carpet connotation was made in Agamemnon, a 458 BC play by the Greek playwright Aeschylus. “It simply came to our notice then. The red carpet is associated with kings and emperors,” said Sonnet Stanfill, a curator of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Some references to the red carpet appearing in special ceremonies can be found in history.

Its journey in Hollywood began in 1922 at the premiere of Robin Hood at the Egyptian Theatre. At the time, American showman and theatre owner Sid Grauman rolled out the carpet and actor Douglas Fairbanks became the first celebrity to get the honour.

Later, in 1961, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences rolled out a red carpet at the 33rd Academy Awards.

Meanwhile, the phrase “Red-carpet treatment” gradually moved from royals and was used for high-ranking dignitaries. In 1821, the carpet was rolled out for the fifth president of the United States, James Monroe, when he arrived in Georgetown, South Carolina.

However, the origin of red-carpet treatment is believed to date back to the promotions for the 20th Century Limited, an express passenger train that ran from 1902 to 1967 on the New York Central Railroad.

The passengers of the train were welcomed at the Grand Central Station with a red carpet, which gave a glimpse into the luxurious treatment provided by the train staff during the journey.

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