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Douglas Fairbanks ACTOR


Douglas Fairbanks Sr. was born on May 23rd, 1883 with the birth name Douglas Elton Thomas Ullman in Denver, Colorado.  His father, Hezekiah Charles Ullman was a Roman Catholic and a Union Army Captain in the Civil War.  His mother, Ella Adelaide Marsh was also a Roman Catholic and came from a wealthy New Orleans family

When Fairbanks was five years old, his father abandoned the family and left his mother to raise Douglas and his older brother Robert, who were both given the last name Fairbanks to take on as their own after their mother's first husband.

He began acting at a very young age.  He worked on the theatrical stage in Denver, Colorado doing amateur theater at the age of nine.  When he entered his teen years, he was doing summer stock at Elite Gardens Theatre.  He continued to attend High School getting his education at East Denver High, however his Senior year, he dropped out. 

He moved to New York in the early 1900's in attempt to pursue a career in acting.  He worked part time at a hardware store and as a clerk in a Wall Street Office.  In pursuit of his dream to be an actor he started with joining the acting troupe of British Actor Frederick Warde.  His Broadway debut was in 1902.

He always found the stage to be to confining for his liking, even though he had the opportunity to tour and work on the road.  On July 11th, 1907 he married Anna Beth Sully, the daughter of a wealthy industrialist.  The couple had one son, Douglas Fairbanks Jr.  In 1915, Fairbanks Sr. decided the film industry was where he belonged and so he relocated his family to Hollywood.

He had the opportunity to work on the film version of, "The Lamb" (1915) and continued to work with the Triangle Film Company on an average of ten films per year earning a weekly salary of $2000. 

Not only was he a talented actor, he also had his father's genes in him making him quite a smart business man.  He started out in 1916 starting his own production company, The Douglas Fairbanks Film Corporation.  He also this same year met Mary Pickford at a party and they began an affair.  Douglas was granted a divorice from his first wife in 1918.  In the meantime, he decided to start his own pictures company, knowing that he could earn more in profits then if he just remained as an actor.  Together, with his best friend Charlie Chaplin, current girlfriend and a fellow director, D.W. Griffith, they formed United Artists.

He was now Hollywood's most popular actor, and along with his business, he was the third highest paid man in the entertainment industry.  In 1920, he finally married Pickford and the public loved the idea of Hollywood's Hero marrying America's Sweetheart.  The couple was on an ultimate high, with their new business, new marriage being treated like royalty and the sucess of 29 films thus far under his name.

Their studio was quite successful and mostly funded comedies.  They had complete artistic control over their films and their profits increased at a dramatic rate.   Fairbanks continued to work as an actor as he showed off his talent in various silent films such as, "The Mark of Zorro" (1920), "The Thief of Bagdad" (1924) and "Robin hood" (1922).  They also did the first full length Technicolor film, "The Gaucho" (1927).    

His last silent film was, "The Iron Mask" (1929) and by then he was losing interest in film making, not feeling the same passion for sound films as he did for films in the silent era.  He was also aging and his health was declining.  He made an attempt at his first sound film, "The Taming of the Shrew" (1929) but it was not well received.  His final acting role was in, "The Private Life of Don Juan" (1934) and he then made his complete retirement from acting.

He had seperated from his 2nd wife in 1933 and when the divorce was finalized in 1936, he was married within months to Sylvia, Lady Ashley whom he had cheated on his 2nd wife with.  He spent most of his retirement traveling abroad with his new wife although his health was getting worse on a daily basis.
Douglas Fairbanks had a heart attack at the age of 56 in his sleep on December 12th, 1939.  His funeral was held at the Wee Kirk o' the Heather Church in Glendale Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery.  Douglas was placed in a crypt in the Mausoleum.  Two years later, his widow removed him from the Mausoleum and had a marble raised tomb monument for him in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.  In the year 2000, when his son Douglas Fairbanks Jr. passed, his remains were also interred with his father.

Douglas Fairbanks was not only an amazing actor, and founder of United Artists, he also assisted in the organization of the Motion Picture Fund in 1921 that assisted others in the industry who could not find work or were having a hard time financially.  He was also a founding member of the Motion Picture Academy and hosted the first Oscars Ceremony in 1929.  On January 24th, 2009 AMPAS opened an exhibition dedicated to Fairbanks titled, "Douglas Fairbanks, The First King of Hollywood" which featured costumes, props, pictures and documents from his career and personal life.  A bronze statue was also erected in the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences courtyard on the University of Southern California Campus, as he was a key figure in the school's founding in 1929.   Fairbanks has a star on the Hollywood walk of Fame at 7020 Hollywood Boulevard.


1915    The Lamb 
1915    Double Trouble 
1916    His Picture in the Papers
1916    The Habit of Happiness
1916    The Good Bad Man
1916    Reggie Mixes In Mysteries of New York
1916    Firting with Fate
1916    The Mystery of the Leaping Fish
1916    The Half Breed
1916    Manhattan Madness
1916    American Aristocracy
1916    The Matrimaniac
1916    The Americano
1916    Intolerance
1917    In Again, Out Again 
1917    Wild and Wooly
1917    Down to Earth
1917    The Man from Painted Post 
1917    Reaching for the Moon
1917    War Relief
1918    A Modern Musketeer
1918    Headin' South
1918    Mr. Fix-It
1918    Say! Young Fellow
1918    Bound in Morocco
1918    He Comes Up Smiling
1918    Sic 'em Sam! 
1918    Fire the Kaiser 
1919    The Knickerbocker Buckaroo
1919    His Majesty, the American
1919    When the Clouds Roll By
1919    Arizona
1920    The Mollycoddle 
1920    The Mark of Zorro
1921    The Nut The Three Musketeers
1922    Robin Hood
1924    The Thief of Bagdad
1925    Don Q, Son of Zorro
1926    The Black Pirate 
1928    The Gaucho
1929    The Iron Mask
1929    The Taming of the Shrew 
1931    Reaching for the Moon
1931    Around the World in 80 Minutes
1932    Mr. Robinson Crusoe
1934    The Private Life of Don Juan

Matinee Classics - Intolerance starring Monte Blue, Lillian Gish, Tully Marshall, Eugene Pallette, W.S. Van Dyke, Douglas Fairbanks, King Vidor and Erich von Stroheim
Matinee Classics - The Mark of Zorro starring Douglas Fairbanks, Marguerite De La Motte, Noah Beery, Robert McKim and George Periolat
Matinee Classics - Mr. Robinson Crusoe starring Douglas Fairbanks Sr., William Farnum, Earle Browne and Maria Alba
Matinee Classics - The Mystery of the Leaping Fish starring Douglas Fairbanks, Bessie Love, Alma Rubens, Allan Sears, Charles Stevens, Tom Wilson, George Hall, William Lowery, Joe Murphy and B.F. Zeidman
Matinee Classics - Reaching for the Moon starring Douglas Fairbanks, Bebe Daniels, Edward Everett Horton, Claud Allister, Jack Mulhall, Walter Walker, June MacCloy, Helen Jerome Eddy and Bing Crosby
Matinee Classics - The Black Pirate starring Billie Dove, Tempe Pigott, Donald Crisp, Sam De Grasse, Anders Randolf, Charles Stevens, John Wallace, Fred Becker, Charles Belcher, E.J. Ratcliffe and Douglas Fairbanks
Matinee Classics - The Black Pirate starring Billie Dove, Tempe Pigott, Donald Crisp, Sam De Grasse, Anders Randolf, Charles Stevens, John Wallace, Fred Becker, Charles Belcher, E.J. Ratcliffe and Douglas Fairbanks

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