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Douglas Fairbanks Sr. Silent Film Star -

Douglas Fairbanks (1883-1939)

Douglas Fairbanks was born Douglas Elton Ulman on May 23rd, 1883, and grew up in Denver, Colorado, moving to New York in 1900. He made his Broadway debut in 1902, moving upward in his career quickly, until he married an heiress, Anna Beth Sully, and quit the theater. In 1909, Doug's son Douglas Fairbanks Jr. was born; he also became an actor. Doug Fairbanks' wife's company went bankrupt and Doug returned to the stage to earn an income. Liking adventure, he decided to break into the fledgling movie business. Under the watchful eye of D.W. Griffith, Fairbanks became a star almost instantly, playing in light social and romantic comedies. In 1916 Douglas started his own company The Douglas Fairbanks Film Corporation. During a World War One Liberty bond tour Fairbanks met Mary Pickford, and they both fell deeply in love. The two stars were married -- after divorcing their respective spouses. They were so popular that the puritan American public at the time forgave their divorces, and their careers were not affected. They moved into a shared mansion together, called Pickfair, and held big parties for the entertainment community.

In 1919 Doug and Mary formed United Artists Corporation, with Charles Chaplin and D.W. Griffith, which gave the stars more control over their projects and movie earnings. During the 1920's Douglas Fairbanks was probably the most popular male silent movie star, making his famous costume pictures, such as "The Mark Of Zorro" (1920), "The Three Musketeers," (1921) and "Robin Hood." (1921). He liked constant activity in his life, and was always traveling and pulling stunts -- and those stunts not just on his movie sets, but off screen as well. Finally, by the time sound came in, Doug was feeling his age and his talkie film with Mary Pickford "The Taming Of The Shrew" (1929) was unsuccessful (though today it is considered quite funny). Doug and Mary were divorced in 1936, and Fairbanks married Lady Sylvia Ashley, retiring from movies. He died suddenly of a heart attack on December 12th, 1939. That year he won a posthumous special Oscar "recognizing the unique and outstanding contribution of the first President of the Academy to the international development of the motion picture."

~ Copyright © 2004

Vintage Bio from "Who's Who On The Screen" (1920): "Douglas Fairbanks was born in Denver Colorado, and as a boy attended a military academy, later entering the Colorado School Of Mines, and Harvard University. He has appeared in Vaudeville and under the direction of William A Brady in "The Pit." He was co-starred with William H. Crane in the "New Henrietta" and featured in "A Gentleman From Mississippi" and starred in "He Comes Up Smiling." Mr. Fairbanks enjoys a splendid following upon the screen, where he has appeared with great success, heading his own company. Mr. Fairbanks is an all-around athlete and has performed many marvelous feats of strength, cunning and endurance in his film work."

To view a vintage article on Douglas Fairbanks from "The Blue Book Of The Stars" (1924) please click HERE (295 kb)

Douglas Fairbanks' Silent Films

Iron Mask, The (1929) .... D'Artagnan
Show People (1928) (uncredited) .... Cameo appearance
Gaucho, The (1927) .... The Gaucho
Black Pirate, The (1926) .... The Black Pirate
... aka Black Buccaneer, The (1926)
Ben-Hur (1925) (uncredited) .... Crowd extra in chariot race
... aka Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1925)
Don Q Son of Zorro (1925) .... Don Cesar de Vega/Zorro
Thief of Bagdad, The (1924) .... The Thief of Bagdad
Hollywood (1923) .... Cameo appearance
... aka Joligud (1923)
Robin Hood (1922) .... Earl of Huntingdon/Robin Hood
Three Musketeers, The (1921) .... D'Artagnan
Nut, The (1921) .... Charlie Jackson
Mark of Zorro, The (1920) .... Don Diego Vega/Señor Zorro

Doug and Mary on holiday in France -

Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford on holiday in France (1924)

Mollycoddle, The (1920) .... Richard Marshall III, IV and V
When the Clouds Roll by (1919) .... Daniel Boone Brown
... aka Cheer Up (1919)
His Majesty, the American (1919) .... William Brooks
Knickerbocker Buckaroo, The (1919) .... Teddy Drake
Arizona (1918) .... Lt. Denton
He Comes Up Smiling (1918) .... Jerry Martin
Bound in Morocco (1918) .... George Travelwell
Say! Young Fellow (1918) .... Young Fellow
Mr. Fix-It (1918) .... Dick Remington
Headin' South (1918) .... Headin' South
All-Star Production of Patriotic Episodes for the Second Liberty Loan (1917)
Modern Musketeer, A (1917) .... Ned Thacker
Reaching for the Moon (1917) .... Alexis Caesar Napoleon Brown
Man From Painted Post, The (1917) .... 'Fancy Jim' Sherwood
... aka Fancy Jim Sherwood (1917) (USA)
Down to Earth (1917) .... Billy Gaynor
Wild and Woolly (1917) .... Jeff Hillington
In Again, Out Again (1917/II) .... Teddy Rutherford
Americano, The (1916) .... Blaze Derringer
Matrimaniac, The (1916) .... Jimmie Conroy
American Aristocracy (1916) .... Cassius Lee
Manhattan Madness (1916) .... Steve O'Dare
Intolerance (1916) (uncredited) .... Man on white horse - Huguenot
Half-Breed, The (1916) .... Lo Dorman
... aka Carquinez Woods, The (1916)
Flirting with Fate (1916) .... Augy Holliday
... aka Assassin, The (1916)
Mystery of the Leaping Fish, The (1916) .... Coke Ennyday
Reggie Mixes In (1916) .... Reggie Van Deuzen
... aka Facing the Music (1916)
Good Bad Man, The (1916) .... Passin' Through
... aka Passing Through (1916)
Habit of Happiness, The (1916) .... Sunny Wiggins
... aka Laugh and the World Laughs (1916)
His Picture in the Papers (1916) .... Pete Prindle
Double Trouble (1915) .... Florian Amidon/Eugene Brassfield
Martyrs of the Alamo (1915)
Lamb, The (1915) .... Gerald

To learn more about Douglas Fairbanks visit his profile on The Internet Movie Database

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