Douglas Fairbanks

Producer, Screenwriter, Businessman
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 ... Read more »
Born: 05/23/1883 in Denver, Colorado, USA

Filmography

Actor (29)

The Iron Mask 1928 (Movie)

(Actor)

Show People 1927 (Movie)

(Actor)

The Black Pirate 1925 (Movie)

(Actor)

The Three Musketeers 1920 (Movie)

(Actor)

The Mark of Zorro 1919 (Movie)

(Actor)

Intolerance 1916 (Movie)

Drunken Soldier with monkey (Actor)

Arizona (Movie)

Lt. Denton (Actor)

Don Q, Son of Zorro (Movie)

Don Cesar de Vega/Zorro (Actor)

Flirting with Fate (Movie)

"Augy" Ainsworth (Actor)

Half Breed (Movie)

Lo Dorman (Actor)

He Comes up Smiling (Movie)

(Actor)

His Majesty the American (Movie)

William Brooks (Actor)

His Picture in the Papers (Movie)

(Actor)

Manhattan Madness (Movie)

Steve O'Dare (Actor)

Mr. Robinson Crusoe (Movie)

Steve Drewel (Actor)

The Gaucho (Movie)

The Gaucho (Actor)

The Good Bad Man (Movie)

"Passin' Through" (Actor)

The Habit of Happiness (Movie)

"Sunny" Wiggins (Actor)

The Knickerbocker Buckaroo (Movie)

Teddy Drake (Actor)

The Lamb (Movie)

Gerald (Actor)

The Man from Painted Post (Movie)

Fancy Jim Sherwood (Actor)

The Martyrs of the Alamo (Movie)

(Actor)

The Mollycoddle (Movie)

Richard Marshall (Actor)

The Nut (TV Show)

Actor

The Private Life of Don Juan (Movie)

Don Juan (Actor)

Till the Clouds Roll By (Movie)

The Young Man (Actor)

When the Clouds Roll By (Movie)

Daniel Boon Brown (Actor)

Wild and Woolly (Movie)

Jeff Hillington (Actor)
Writer (8)

The Black Pirate 1925 (Movie)

(From Story)

The Mark of Zorro 1919 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

His Majesty the American (Movie)

(Screenwriter)

Mr. Robinson Crusoe (Movie)

(Screenwriter)

The Gaucho (Movie)

(Screenwriter)

The Good Bad Man (Movie)

(Screenwriter)

The Knickerbocker Buckaroo (Movie)

(Screenwriter)

The Man from Painted Post (Movie)

(Screenwriter)
Producer (6)

The Iron Mask 1928 (Movie)

(Producer)

He Comes up Smiling (Movie)

(Producer)

Mr. Robinson Crusoe (Movie)

(Producer)

The Gaucho (Movie)

(Producer)

The Knickerbocker Buckaroo (Movie)

(Producer)

The Mollycoddle (Movie)

(Producer)
Director (1)

Arizona (Movie)

(Director)

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 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.

Relationships

Ashley

Wife
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

Douglas Fairbanks Jr. Actor

Son
Mother, Anna Beth Sully

Robert Fairbanks

Brother
worked as corporate secretary for Douglas's film company

John Fairbanks

Half-Brother
worked as treasurer for Douglas's film company

Mary Pickford

Wife
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

Anna Sully

Wife
married in 1907 divorced in 1919 she later married Jack Whiting Rhode Island soap company heiress

H Ulman

Father
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

EDUCATION

Jarvis Military Academy

Denver , Colorado

Colorado School of Mines

Golden , Colorado

East Denver High School

Denver , Colorado

Harvard University

Cambridge , Massachusetts
attended a few months as a special student

Milestones

1938

Formed Fairbanks International production company; first film was to have been "The Californian" starring Douglas Fairbanks Jr (never made)

1934

Last film as an actor, "The Private Life of Don Juan"

1929

Made first talkie, "The Taming of the Shrew" (also his first film with Mary Pickford)

1925

Formed Elton Corporation production company

1919

First film for UA, "His Majesty the American"

1919

Formed United Artists Company (with Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford and D W Griffith)

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

1916

Obtained release from contract and salary escalated to $10,000 per week

1915

Film acting debut with Triangle in "The Lamb"

1915

Signed three-year contract with Triangle Company at salary of $2,000 per week

1905

First lead role on Broadway in "As Ye Sow"

1902

Broadway debut (bit) in "Her Lord and Master"

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)

1900

Became stage actor with Frederick Warde's touring company; first stage appearance in small role in "The Duke's Jester" in Richmond, Virginia

Left theater to travel in Europe with friends

After dispute with stage manager, quit theater to briefly study law

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"

Encouraged by father to recite from Shakespeare from the age of seven

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