Douglas Fairbanks Jr.

Actor, Producer, Executive
More voguishly handsome than his father, the Prince of Pickfair Douglas Fairbanks Jr lacked Senior's ability to completely dominate a film and make lackadaisical scripting and monotonous directing almost bearable, but ... Read more »
Born: 12/08/1909 in New York City, New York, USA

Filmography

Actor (52)

Mary Pickford, The Muse of the Movies 2014 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

Loretta Young 1997 - 1998 (TV Show)

Actor

Mary Pickford: A Life on Film 1998 (Movie)

Interviewee (Actor)

American Cinema 1994 - 1995 (TV Show)

Actor

Stars and Stripes: Hollywood and World War II 1991 - 1992 (TV Show)

Actor

World War II: A Personal Journey 1991 - 1992 (TV Show)

Actor

Vivien Leigh: Scarlett and Beyond 1990 - 1991 (TV Show)

Actor

An Evening With Alan Jay Lerner 1989 - 1990 (TV Show)

Actor

Night of 100 Stars III 1989 - 1990 (TV Show)

Actor

The 11th Annual ACE Awards 1989 - 1990 (TV Show)

Actor

You're the Top: The Cole Porter Story 1989 - 1990 (TV Show)

Actor

Auntie Sue 1988 - 1989 (TV Show)

Actor

The 75th Anniversary of Beverly Hills 1988 - 1989 (TV Show)

Actor

Cary Grant: The Leading Man 1987 - 1988 (TV Show)

Actor

Iolanthe 1987 - 1988 (TV Show)

Actor

Going Hollywood: The War Years 1987 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

Arthur Hailey's "Strong Medicine" 1985 - 1986 (TV Show)

Actor

George Stevens: A Filmmaker's Journey 1985 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

The Sorcerer 1984 - 1985 (TV Show)

Actor

The Amazing Years of Cinema 1981 - 1982 (TV Show)

Actor

Ghost Story 1981 (Movie)

Edward Wanderley (Actor)

Raquel 1980 - 1981 (TV Show)

Actor

Circus of the Stars 1979 - 1980 (TV Show)

Actor

Churchill the Man 1972 (Movie)

Narration (Narrator)

ABC Stage '67 1966 - 1967 (TV Show)

Actor

Red and Blue 1966 (Movie)

(Actor)

The Bob Hope Show (09/29/65) 1965 - 1966 (TV Show)

Actor

The Bob Hope Show (04/09/50) 1949 - 1950 (TV Show)

Actor

Sinbad the Sailor 1947 (Movie)

(Actor)

Gunga Din 1938 (Movie)

(Actor)

The Rage of Paris 1937 (Movie)

(Actor)

The Young in Heart 1937 (Movie)

(Actor)

The Prisoner of Zenda 1936 (Movie)

(Actor)

Morning Glory 1932 (Movie)

Joseph Sheridan (Actor)

The Life of Jimmy Dolan 1932 (Movie)

(Actor)

Little Caesar 1929 (Movie)

Joe Massara (Actor)

Our Modern Maidens 1928 (Movie)

Gil (Actor)

A Woman of Affairs 1927 (Movie)

Geoffrey (Actor)

Broken Hearts of Hollywood 1925 (Movie)

(Actor)

Hollywood: The Golden Years (TV Show)

Actor

John Wayne: American Legend (TV Show)

Actor

Laurence Olivier -- A Life (TV Show)

Actor

Patience (TV Show)

Actor

Ruddigore (TV Show)

Actor

The Crooked Hearts (TV Show)

Actor

The Great Depression (TV Show)

Actor

The Hostage Tower (TV Show)

Actor
Producer (3)

Moment of Danger 1959 (Movie)

(Producer)

Chase a Crooked Shadow 1958 (Movie)

(Producer)

The Silken Affair 1957 (Movie)

(Producer)
Other (2)

Sunset 1988 (Movie)

assistance (Assistant)

Sunset 1988 (Movie)

assistance (Assistant)

Biography

More voguishly handsome than his father, the Prince of Pickfair Douglas Fairbanks Jr lacked Senior's ability to completely dominate a film and make lackadaisical scripting and monotonous directing almost bearable, but he was certainly an extremely likable and talented actor in his own right. Coaxed into movies by Jesse Lasky, anxious to have the pull of the Fairbanks name, he alienated his father by debuting as a juvenile lead at the age of 13 in "Stephen Steps Out" (1923), causing Senior to remain hostile to his career for many years. On his way to full-fledged stardom, Fairbanks took his turn on the boards in a 1927 production of John Van Druten's "Young Woodley" before practically upstaging the great Greta Garbo with his off-beat riveting performance as her alcoholic brother in "A Woman of Affairs" (1928). He also gave filmgoers a special treat, doing impressions of John Barrymore, John Gilbert and his own father in "Our Modern Maidens" (1929), the picture which brought him and first wife Joan Crawford together.<p> Fairbanks saw his star gradually rise during the early 30s beginning with pictures like Howard Hawks' "Dawn Patrol", Robert Milton's "Outward Bound" and Mervyn Le Roy's "Little Caesar" (all 1930). He gave a fine handling of the male lead in "Morning Glory" (1933) managing to avoid being blown off the screen by Katharine Hepburn in her first Oscar-winning performance. Soon thereafter, he went to Britain to play the Tsar in "Catherine the Great" (1934, opposite Elisabeth Bergner), and remained there for close to three years, making his next five movies as well as his first foray into producing with Raoul Walsh's "Jump for Glory" (1937). Fairbanks could swashbuckle with the best of them as he displayed in pictures like "The Prisoner of Zenda" (also 1937), "Gunga Din" (1939) and "The Corsican Brothers" (1941), but it may have been Max Ophuls' "The Exile" (1947), which he also scripted, that displayed his physical prowess at its best. Critic David Thomson, however, takes issue, claiming it was a mistake to compete with Douglas Fairbanks Sr. as a swashbuckler and that screen evidence suggests Junior would have been more successful as a gigolo, weakling or black sheep of the family. Fairbanks' cultured presence and voice also made him a natural for comedies like "The Rage of Paris" and "Joy of Living" (both 1938).<p> After his World War II heroics, Fairbanks acted in a handful of pictures before temporarily retiring as an actor after "Mr. Drake's Duck" in 1951. Though he produced a few features during the 50s, he turned primarily to television, hosting, producing and sometimes acting in the British anthology series "Douglas Fairbanks Jr. Presents" (1953-57), and of his remaining rare screen performances, almost all were for TV, notably "The Crooked Hearts" (ABC, 1972, with Rosalind Russell), "Arthur Hailey's 'Strong Medicine'" (Syndicated, 1986) and the ABC Mystery Movie "Auntie Sue" (1989). He made his feature swan song in "Ghost Story" (1981), acting with fellow old timers Fred Astaire, Melvyn Douglas and John Houseman. Fairbanks favored the stage in his later career, playing Professor Henry Higgins in a 1968-69 national tour of "My Fair Lady", as well as touring in "Present Laughter and "Sleuth", among other shows. As one of the last links to a glorious Hollywood past, he has frequently turned up in numerous feature and TV documentaries "American Cinema" (PBS, 1995), the Oscar-nominated "The Battle Over Citizen Kane" (1995) and segments of A&E's "Biography" devoted to Loretta Young and John Wayne.

Relationships

Jack Whiting

Step-Father

Sylvia Ashley

Step-Mother
married to Douglas Fairbanks from 1936 until his 1939 death

Joan Crawford Actor

Wife
Married June 3, 1929 Divorced May 12, 1933

Marlene Dietrich Actor

Companion

Mary Eppling

Wife
Married April 22, 1939 until her death Sept. 14, 1988

Douglas Fairbanks Actor

Parent

Daphne Kay

Daughter
mother, Mary Lee Hartford

Melissa Morant

Daughter
mother, Mary Lee Hartford

Mary Pickford

Step-Mother
married to Douglas Fairbanks from 1920 to 1935

Vera Shelton

Wife
Met 26 years before marriage May 30, 1991 in Acapulco, Mexico; married until his death May 7, 2000

Beth Sully

Mother
married to Douglas Fairbanks from 1907 to 1919

Victoria Vangerbig

Daughter
mother, Mary Lee Hartford

EDUCATION

Pasadena Polytechnic

Pasadena , California

Bovee Art School

New York , New York

Harvard Military Academy

Los Angeles , California

studied painting and sculpture in London and Paris

Knickerbocker Greys

New York , New York

Collegiate School

New York , New York

Milestones

1995

Appeared as an interview subject in the Oscar-nominated documentary "The Battle Over Citizen Kane" (later aired on PBS in 1996)

1989

Had final acting role in "Auntie Sue", an episode of "B.L. Stryker" (ABC)

1988

Was interviewee for the feature documentary "Going Hollywood: The War Years"

1986

Played Eli Camperdown in syndicated miniseries, "Arthur Hailey's 'Strong Medicine'"

1985

Was one of the interviewees for "George Stevens: A Filmmaker's Journey", a feature documentary directed by George Stevens Jr

1985

Began hosting "The Compleat Gilbert & Sullivan" (PBS)

1981

Made one-shot return to feature acting alongside Fred Astaire, John Houseman and Melvyn Douglas in "Ghost Story"; last film appearance as a fictional character

1981

Hosted and narrated the syndicated series "The Amazing Years of Cinema"

1972

TV-movie debut as a wealthy bachelor targeted by a con woman (Rosalind Russell in her final screen role) in "The Crooked Hearts" (ABC)

1970

Served as Naval member of the US military delegation to SEATO conference in London

1967

Made rare big screen appearance in Tony Richardson's drama fantasy short "Red and Blue", acting with the director's then-wife Vanessa Redgrave; last film for 14 years

1966

Played Ambassador Otis in a musical version of Oscar Wilde's "The Canterville Ghost" (adapted by Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Bock); aired on "ABC Stage '67"

1958

Produced the feature "Chase a Crooked Shadow", directed by Michael Anderson

1951

Formed The Dougfair Corporation

1951

Retired temporarily from acting after "Mr. Drake's Duck"

1949

Produced, starred and co-wrote screenplay for "The Fighting O'Flynn"

1947

Perhaps showed his athletic prowess to best advantage in Max Ophuls' "The Exile"; also produced and scripted from Cosmo Hamilton's novel "His Majesty the King"

1940

Dashingly swashbuckled his way through dual role as "The Corsican Brothers"

1940

Had starring role in the uneven jungle adventure "Green Hell", helmed by James Whale

1939

Played one of the three soldier-comrades (along with Cary Grant and Victor McLaglen) in George Stevens' "Gunga Din"

1939

Headed and was personally reponsible for Douglas Voluntary Hopitals in Great Britain

1939

Helped organize British War Relief and was national chairman of CARE

1938

Starred opposite Irene Dunne in delighful screwball musical comedy "Joy of Living"

1937

Gave thrilling performance as attractive blackguard Rupert von Hentzau in "The Prisoner of Zenda"; first US movie since 1934; film reteamed him with Ronald Colman

1935

Debut as film producer, "The Amateur Gentleman"; also starred

1935

Formed own production company

1934

Went to Britain to play the Tsar opposite Elizabeth Bergner in "Catherine the Great"; remained in England for close to three years, making five more movies before returning to Hollywood

1934

London stage debut, "Moonlight Is Silver"

1933

Portrayed Joseph Sheridan in "Morning Glory", a picture dominated by Katherine Hepburn in her first Oscar-winning role

1930

Acted in Howard Hawks' "Dawn Patrol"

1929

Appeared in "Our Modern Maidens" with then-wife Joan Crawford

1928

Debut in talking pictures, "The Barker"

1928

Wrote titles for "The Gaucho", starring his father

1928

Practically upstaged the great Greta Garbo in "A Woman of Affairs" with his off-beat riveting performance as her alcoholic brother; most felt he did upstage leading man John Gilbert

1927

Made stage debut in John Van Druten's "Young Woodley" in Los Angeles and on tour in San Francisco

1925

Portrayed the suitor to Lois Moran's Laurel in the silent version of "Stella Dallas", starring Belle Bennett and Ronald Colman

1923

Film acting debut in the silent "Stephen Steps Out"

Hosted and produced British-filmed TV anthology series, "Douglas Fairbanks Jr. Presents"; also acted in some of the episodes (aired in syndication in the USA under the title "Douglas Fairbanks Jr. Presents The Rheingold Theater")

Served in WWII as Lieutenant Commander in US Navy; saw active duty aboard destroyer and mine sweeper (1941-1942); served as operations officer for Special Operations, US Amphibious Forces, Atlantic Fleet (1942-1944)

Served as National Chairman of CARE and Share-through CARE committees

Starred as Henry Higgins in national tour of "My Fair Lady"

Appointed Presidential Envoy for Special Mission to South America by Franklin D Roosevelt

Made frequent appearances as an interview subject on TV documentaries spotlighting such talents as Cole Porter, Loretta Young and Vivian Leigh, and others about WWII

Lived in Paris with mother after her divorce from Douglas Fairbanks

Bonus Trivia

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"The Salad Days: An Autobiography by Douglas Fairbanks Jr" and "A Hell of a War" are the first two installments of a proposed tri-part autobiography.

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He has actively supported film preservation.

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Made an honorary Knight by the King of England for his furthering of "Anglo-American amity" in 1949

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Awarded the Silver Star Medal

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Received Combat Legion of Merit with a "V" for valor clasp

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Awarded Croix de Guerre with palm in 1949

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Given the Legion of Honor

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Earned British Distinguished Service Cross as the only US officer to command a flotilla of raiding craft for Mountbatten's Commandos

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Received Belgian Order of the Crown

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Given the American Image Award (1976)

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Awarded the World Affair Council's Award for Contribution to World Understanding and Peace (1978)

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Made a Fellow of Boston University in 1978

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Received Salvation Army's National Brotherhood Award (1980)

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Received honorary degrees from Westminster College (1966) and Oxford University (1971), among others

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Douglas Fairbank Jr's first appearance before the cameras occurred at a party during his boyhood. His father and cameraman (later director) William McGann applied makeup and then filmed a 400 feet version of "Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde" with Junior in the leading role.

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On marriage: "I don't think that married people ought to be conscious of the fact that they are married. They ought to live in sin, so to speak ... it is a very good thing to attempt to keep up the relationship that existed before marriage--to keep right on courting your wife ... The moment you take your wife for granted, it loses its charm and you lose your perspective. Nothing is sure. In marriage you ought to live with the constant knowledge before you that if you don't work at marriage you may lose the one you love ... If you had a job and knew you might lose it, you would work all the harder to keep it ... Marriage is a career in itself. To succeed in any career you have to keep working on it. The same thing is true for marriage. You must keep right on building it up just as you built its foundations. The minute you think your marriage is sure, that minute your marriage becomes most unsure." --Douglas Fairbanks Jr, quoted in Silver Screen, June 1930.

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