A Brief History of the Red Carpet


Time to roll out the red carpet: It’s Oscar Night!

Let’s have a look at the red carpet in history — it’s more interesting than you might think! — and then have a fun night watching the awards.

The website Academy Award History has this to say about the history of the red carpet:

The red carpet originated with the railroad. Conductors commonly rolled out the red carpet to direct passengers to the correct location on the train. Today it is known as a legacy of the entertainment industry. It is identified with the culture of our celebrities and the ora that surrounds them. The red carpet has a history of all of those who have been a part of the entertainment industry. It is a great way to honor those who have passed on from the red carpet to the afterlife.

This is not all there is to say about the history of the red carpet, although it is of some interest that “the afterlife” is referenced.

The red carpet makes its first appearance on the historical stage in Aeschylus’ 5th century BCE play Agamemnon.  

King Agamemnon recognizes that the gods are wholly responsible for the Greek victory at Troy, and he thanks the gods for aiding him and bringing his ship back to Argos safely. He says, “We must thank the gods with grace,” because he is so grateful to them.m he claims no responsibility at all himself, even though it was he who commanded the Greek army.


— snip —

Clytaemnestra tries to convince Agamemnon to walk across the red carpet, insisting that he deserves special recognition for his accomplishments. However, he is afraid to offend the gods, insisting that the gods have given the Greeks victory, and he had nothing to do with it at all. The gods deserve recognition, not him. But Clytaemnestra continues to pressure him.

Clytaemnestra then murders him.

Commenter Emma Lemma Ding Dong at yahoo answers sums it up nicely.  The red carpet symbolizes blood as well honor to the gods:

For the carpet leads him into his palace and to his own death. The carpet takes him through the palace door which Clytemnestra closes behind him. It reopens some minutes later with Clytemnestra triumphantly holding an axe aloft as Agamemnon’s body lies lifeless at her feet on the blood-saturated carpet.

The Rice Museum staff notes that President James Monroe once walked the red carpet:


President James Monroe was entertained in 1821 at Prospect Hill (now Arcadia) on Waccamaw with a real red carpet rolled out to the river.

And then finally in the 20th century we get to the 20th Century Limited, the reference for the “railroad” story at the Academy History website.  


Wikipedia notes:

Known for its style as well as for its speed, passengers walked to and from the train on a plush, crimson carpet which was rolled out in New York and Chicago and was specially designed for the 20th Century Limited, thus the “red carpet treatment” was born.

So let this be a warning to all who seach for the immortality of the gods on the red carpet!  Muahahahaha!


Or, on the other hand, let this be an open (and red!) thread for the Oscar Awards!  


Have fun everyone!


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    • srkp23 on February 25, 2008 at 02:16

    Thanks, LC.

    I’ve seen none of the movies this year. My father can’t recognize any of the stars, and I have yet to see the Clooney. That said, excellent snacks have been ordered–give me Cajun popcorn and Clooney and I’m a happy camper!

    Oh! and there the Clooney is! 🙂

    • robodd on February 25, 2008 at 02:17

    1.  Into the Wild

    2.  Assassination of Jesse James by . . .

    3.  I’m Not There

    4.  Michael Clayton

    And I think PS Hoffman deserves the supporting oscar for Charlie Wilson’s war.

  1. Think longer term here.  Two hundred or so years of this great American experiment is nothing compared to the history of civilizations.

    Red, in Illuminati speak signifies one and only one thing, the bloodlines of the RULERS.

    And when Rome fell the church took up the slack in the ruling category.

    • kredwyn on February 25, 2008 at 02:43
  2. The deck above the holds in the old ships, what would now be called the platform deck, was known as the orlop deck, a contraction of ‘overlap’, a word of Dutch origin meaning ‘that which runs over the hold’. In H.M.S. Victory this deck is painted red; the wounded were taken there to be tended by the ship’s surgeon. On this first deck below the waterline they were safer and their blood was not so noticeable against the red paint of the deck.

  3. I took note of this quote from your story:

    “the culture of our celebrities and the ora that surrounds them”

    A celebrity can’t be too careful – that ora may speak ill of them.  Whereas an aura may show them in a better light.

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