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Douglas Fairbanks

Douglas Fairbanks

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The Thief Of Bagdad DVD "The Thief of Bagdad" (1924) is a silent film about life in the dream city of... more info $6.98was $6.98 Buy Now

The Gaucho DVD Douglas Fairbanks carries his adventurous spirit high into the Andes in The... more info $29.95was $29.95 Buy Now

The Iron Mask DVD In 1929 as the silent cinema succumbed to the rise of sound technology, Douglas... more info $29.95was $29.95 Buy Now

The Mark Of Zorro / Don Q, Son Of Zorro... In The Mark Of Zorro, his first full-blown effort at the costume thriller,... more info $29.95was $29.95 Buy Now

The Black Pirate DVD Made at the height of Fairbanks's career, this was the first grand-scale epic... more info $29.95was $29.95 Buy Now

Robin Hood DVD Silent swashbuckler Douglas Fairbanks's version of the classic tale introduced... more info $29.95was $29.95 Buy Now

Also Known As: Elton Thomas, Elton Banks, Douglas Elton Ulman, Douglas Fairbanks Sr. Died: December 12, 1939
Born: May 23, 1883 Cause of Death: heart attack
Birth Place: Denver, Colorado, USA Profession: actor, producer, screenwriter, clerk, businessman, ship steward

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Between 1915 and 1934, actor Douglas Fairbanks displayed unparalleled athletic prowess marked by a naturally optimistic zest for life in over 40 films that turned him into one of Hollywood's biggest silent era stars. During the height of his fame in the 1920s, Fairbanks portrayed historical characters of incredible exuberance and unbounded energy, as he jumped, swung, leaped and, most importantly, smiled his way across American movie screens. After a successful New York stage career, he entered the film business as one of D.W. Griffith's stars in films like "The Lamb" (1915) and "Double Trouble" (1915), but soon found himself put to better use under different directors as an upper class dynamo in "American Aristocracy" (1916), "Wild and Woolly" (1917) and "Reaching for the Moon" (1917). After a brief hiatus to sell war bonds for World War I, Fairbanks returned to Hollywood and dropped his aristocratic persona in favor of playing cheery swashbucklers in the day's most popular movies, like "The Mark of Zorro" (1920), "Robin Hood" (1922) and "The Thief of Baghdad" (1924), all of which featured the actor performing his own elaborate stunts. At the same time, he married star Mary Pickford and the two...

Between 1915 and 1934, actor Douglas Fairbanks displayed unparalleled athletic prowess marked by a naturally optimistic zest for life in over 40 films that turned him into one of Hollywood's biggest silent era stars. During the height of his fame in the 1920s, Fairbanks portrayed historical characters of incredible exuberance and unbounded energy, as he jumped, swung, leaped and, most importantly, smiled his way across American movie screens. After a successful New York stage career, he entered the film business as one of D.W. Griffith's stars in films like "The Lamb" (1915) and "Double Trouble" (1915), but soon found himself put to better use under different directors as an upper class dynamo in "American Aristocracy" (1916), "Wild and Woolly" (1917) and "Reaching for the Moon" (1917). After a brief hiatus to sell war bonds for World War I, Fairbanks returned to Hollywood and dropped his aristocratic persona in favor of playing cheery swashbucklers in the day's most popular movies, like "The Mark of Zorro" (1920), "Robin Hood" (1922) and "The Thief of Baghdad" (1924), all of which featured the actor performing his own elaborate stunts. At the same time, he married star Mary Pickford and the two became Hollywood's first celebrated couple. Meanwhile, he formed United Artists with Griffith, Pickford and Charlie Chaplin to distribute movies and exercise creative control over their films. He went on to star in hits like "The Black Pirate" (1926) and "The Guacho" (1927), before entering the talkie era with the partial sound film, "The Iron Mask" (1929). But with his declining health - not to mention his divorce from Pickford - Fairbanks retired from acting after making "The Private Life of Don Juan" (1934) and died five years later. Remembered for his groundbreaking movies, elaborate stunts and always sunny optimism, Fairbanks remained one of early Hollywood's most enduring stars.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:


CAST: (feature film)

1.
 The Great Chase (1962)
2.
 Ali Baba Goes to Town (1937) Himself
3.
 The Private Life of Don Juan (1934) Don Juan [later known as Captain Mariano]
4.
 Mr. Robinson Crusoe (1932) Steve Drexel
5.
 Reaching for the Moon (1931) Larry Day
6.
 The Iron Mask (1929) D'Artagnan
7.
 Taming of the Shrew (1929) Petruchio
8.
 Show People (1928) Himself
9.
 The Gaucho (1928) The Gaucho
10.
 The Black Pirate (1926) The Black Pirate [Michel]
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Encouraged by father to recite from Shakespeare from the age of seven
1900:
Became stage actor with Frederick Warde's touring company; first stage appearance in small role in "The Duke's Jester" in Richmond, Virginia
1900:
Legally changed name to Douglas Fairbanks (Fairbanks was name of his mother's first husband; she reverted to name after divorcing H. Charles Ulman) (date approximate)
1902:
Broadway debut (bit) in "Her Lord and Master"
1905:
First lead role on Broadway in "As Ye Sow"
:
Left theater to travel in Europe with friends
:
Upon return to NYC, worked in brokerage house, De Coppet & Doremus; then tried the hardware manufacturing business before returning to the Broadway stage in "Mrs. Jack"
:
After dispute with stage manager, quit theater to briefly study law
1915:
Signed three-year contract with Triangle Company at salary of $2,000 per week
1915:
Film acting debut with Triangle in "The Lamb"
1916:
Obtained release from contract and salary escalated to $10,000 per week
1917:
Formed the Douglas Fairbanks Pictures Corporation with director John Emerson (distributed through Artcraft subsidiary of Famous Players-Lasky)
1917:
Made 1st film with newly formed Douglas Fairbanks Pictures Corporation
1919:
Formed United Artists Company (with Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford and D W Griffith)
1919:
First film for UA, "His Majesty the American"
1925:
Formed Elton Corporation production company
1929:
Made first talkie, "The Taming of the Shrew" (also his first film with Mary Pickford)
1934:
Last film as an actor, "The Private Life of Don Juan"
1938:
Formed Fairbanks International production company; first film was to have been "The Californian" starring Douglas Fairbanks Jr (never made)
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

East Denver High School: Denver , Colorado -
Harvard University: Cambridge , Massachusetts -
Jarvis Military Academy: Denver , Colorado -
Colorado School of Mines: Golden , Colorado -

Notes

"Mr. Fairbanks, with his flashing smile and the vaulting agility of an acrobat, was the romantic personification of male perfection, the athletic idol of small boys and the screen's most adored superman."--NY Times Obituary (December 13, 1939)

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Anna Beth Sully. Married in 1907; divorced in 1919; she later married Jack Whiting; Rhode Island soap company heiress.
wife:
Mary Pickford. Actor. Married on March 28, 1920; separated in 1933; divorce granted in January, 1935; final divorce papers signed on January 14, 1936; had previously been married to Owen Moore.
wife:
Lady Sylvia Ashley. Chorus girl. Married from March 7, 1936, until Fairbanks' death in 1939; divorced from Lord Ashley, heir of the Earl of Shaftsbury; married briefly to Clark Gable in 1949.

Family close complete family listing

father:
H Charles Ulman. Lawyer. Jewish New York lawyer who had gone west to look after mining interests and remained there; returned to New York c. 1900; amateur Shakespearean scholar.
brother:
Robert Fairbanks. Film executive. Worked as corporate secretary for Douglas's film company.
half-brother:
John Fairbanks. Film executive. Worked as treasurer for Douglas's film company.
son:
Douglas Fairbanks Jr. Actor. Mother Anna Beth Sully.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

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