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Ever wonder about the significance of a red carpet at events like the Academy Awards? Here are five things you probably didn’t know:

redcarpetcanne20111. Earliest known reference to “walking the red carpet” dates back to 458 B.C.

In the play Agememnon written by Greek play-write Aeschylus, a vengeful wife seeks her revenge by greeting her “heroic” husband with a crimson carpet upon his return from the Trojan War. Agememnon hesitates walking the carpet because the crimson colours are that of the Gods. Ultimately he heeds his wife’s encouraging words and takes steps that seals his fate by insulting the Gods.

Many of the ancient dyes which produced crimson, purple and scarlet colours were from sources that were very difficult to create and obtain. Hence making them available only to kings, nobles, priests and magistrates and considered the colour of the Gods.

Agamemnon walks on the Red Carpet2. In 1821, a red carpet greets a U.S. President.

U.S. President James Monroe was greeted with a red carpet that was rolled out to the river’s edge upon his arrival in Georgetown, South Carolina in 1821. Likely to protect his feet from the muddy riverbanks.

U.S. President James Monroe3. “The Red Carpet Treatment” was coined by the U.S. railroad industry.

The 20th Century Limited passenger train was a New York Central Railroad express service that ran between New York and Chicago from 1902 to 1967. It was the epitome of opulence and was known for many years as the “world’s greatest train”.

Passengers were directed on and off the train using custom-made, crimson carpets which became known as “the red carpet treatment”.

From that point on, “the red carpet treatment” became synonymous with preferential treatment of presidents and dignitaries world wide.

20th Century Limited20th_century_carpet4. A red walkway was used in Hollywood’s first movie premier.

On October 18, 1922, Hollywood’s first movie premier was held at Sid Grauman’s Egyptian theater for the release of Robin Hood, produced, written and staring Douglas Fairbanks. Sid Grauman created a crimson-coloured walkway in front of the theatre for the opening night. This may have been the catalyst for the red carpet in show biz from Hollywood to Broadway to film festivals across the globe.

EgyptianTheater 1922

Egyptian Theater Exterior 1922

5. In 1961, The Academy Awards rolled out the first red carpet for practical reasons.

The hew of the carpet varied in the beginning from various shades of burgundy and reds, which made no difference to the at-home viewers on the black-and-white broadcast. The carpet was simply meant to help guide movie stars into the theater.

It was not until 1964 that the “red carpet” began to function as a gallery of stars entering the building as we know it today. And it wasn’t until 1966 when the Oscars were first broadcasted in colour that viewers at home could appreciate the splendor of the red carpet.

Dan and Jess Cannes 2011

Jess and Dan walking the red carpet at Cannes Film Festival 2011