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Douglas Fairbanks Sr.

Biography

Silent display screen idol who starred within the 1920 film, The Tag of Zorro and hosted the very first Oscars Ceremony. His various other credits are the Thief of Bagdad and Robin Hood. He previously many passions, including painting, sculpting and business. He was the ‘silent display screen’ dad of his ‘speaking pictures’ son, professional Douglas Fairbanks Jr. His relationship to celebrity Mary Pickford in 1920 produced them Hollywood’s initial celebrity few. He was referred to as the ‘Ruler of Hollywood’ prior to the title was presented with to Clark Gable.

Quick Facts


Full Name Douglas Fairbanks
Date Of Birth May 23, 1883
Died December 12, 1939, Santa Monica, California, United States
Place Of Birth Colorado
Height 1.75 m
Profession Movie Actor
Education Harvard University
Nationality American
Spouse Sylvia Ashley, Mary Pickford, Anna Beth Sully
Parents Hezekiah Charles Douglas Ullman, Ella Adelaide Marsh
Siblings Robert Fairbanks, Norris Wilcox, John Fairbanks
Awards Academy Honorary Award
Movies The Mark of Zorro, The Thief of Bagdad, The Black Pirate, Robin Hood, The Three Musketeers, The Iron Mask, Don Q, Son of Zorro, The Gaucho, The Private Life of Don Juan, The Taming of the Shrew, His Majesty, the American, The Lamb, Intolerance, When the Clouds Roll By, The Mystery of the Leaping Fish, Reaching for the Moon, His Picture in the Papers, Mr. Robinson Crusoe, Wild and Woolly, The Habit of Happiness, A Modern Musketeer, The Good Bad Man, Little Caesar, Reggie Mixes In, American Aristocracy, The Half-Breed, Flirting with Fate, Mr. Fix-it, Double Trouble, The Americano, The Knickerbocker Buckaroo, He Comes Up Smiling, The Matrimaniac, The Man from Painted Post, Show People, Bound in Morocco, Say! Young Fellow, Martyrs of the Alamo, The Nut, Union Depot, Arizona, Days of Thrills and Laughter, The Mollycoddle, Manhattan Madness, Headin' South, In Again, Out Again, Around the World with Douglas Fairbanks, Down to Earth, Douglas Fairbanks: The Great Swashbuckler, Character Studies, Gaslight Follies
TV Shows Unknown Chaplin
Star Sign Gemini

  • Facts
  • Filmography
  • Awards
  • Salaries
  • Quotes
  • Trademarks
  • Pictures

#Fact
1 The first time he appeared on the stage, he had one line: "Stand back, my lord, and let the coffin pass," which he erroneously spoke as "and let the passon cough.".
2 He had two roles in common with Errol Flynn: (1) Fairbanks played Robin Hood in Robin Hood (1922) while Flynn played him in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) and (2) Fairbanks played Don Juan de Maraña in The Private Life of Don Juan (1934) while Flynn played him in Adventures of Don Juan (1948).
3 He was the visual inspiration for the original illustrations of the superhero Superman/Clark Kent (created in 1938). Fairbanks was 55 years old at the time, and he was modeled for the Superman identity (Clark Kent's identity was modeled after Harold Lloyd).
4 His paternal grandparents, Lazarus Ullman and Lydia Abrahams, were German Jewish immigrants. His mother had British Isles ancestry.
5 Gifted movie-fan President Woodrow Wilson with an early film projector, which Wilson used to watch a movie almost every afternoon in the White House when he was recuperating from a stroke in 1919. Soon after, Wilson's lawyer son-in-law William Gibbs McAdoo Jr. would serve as chief counsel to Fairbanks' fledgling United Artists company.
6 Although he had met Mary Pickford and her husband Owen Moore at Elsie Janis' Tarrytown (NY) home in 1914, the actress considered him brash. However, it was at a dinner dance at New York's Algonquin Hotel the following year that they danced and fell in love. It was not until 1920 that Pickford divorced Moore and married the swashbuckling star.
7 In 1938 he formed a new company, Fairbanks-International, and announced his first production, "The Californian" would star his son, Douglas Fairbanks Jr. The film was never made.
8 In 1908 on holiday he hiked across Cuba and made a walking tour of Yucatan.
9 His portrayal of Zorro was the inspiration for the iconic DC Comics hero Batman.
10 President of Douglas Fairbanks Pictures Corp., formed in 1918.
11 His father, a native of Pennsylvania, was a captain for the Union forces during the Civil War. His mother was a native Southerner with roots in Louisiana and Georgia.
12 After receiving bad French press for his role in the American version of The Three Musketeers (1921), he vowed "never to put a foot in France again" (July 1st 1921).
13 Among those in attendance at his funeral in 1939 were Viola Dana, Antonio Moreno, Ramon Novarro, Francis X. Bushman, May McAvoy, and his son Douglas Fairbanks Jr..
14 Lived in retirement with Sylvia Ashley at 705 Ocean Front (now Pacific Coast Highway) in Santa Monica, California.
15 Son of Hezekiah Charles Ullman, a New York attorney, and Ella Adelaide Marsh, who previously was married to a man named John Fairbanks. Ullman left the family when Douglas was five years old.
16 During his European honeymoon with Mary Pickford, the couple was greeted by crowds of up to 300,000 people in London and Paris, which made them Hollywood's first celebrity couple.
17 Good friend of Charles Chaplin.
18 According to legend, the thing that sparked his interest in acting occurred when he fell off the roof as a young child and hurt himself.
19 Suffered from depression as a child.
20 Founder of United Artists along with Mary Pickford, Charles Chaplin and D.W. Griffith.
21 First president of the AMPAS from 1927 to 1929
22 Hosted the very first Academy Awards in 1929 alongside William C. de Mille
23 The Hollywood mansion he and Mary Pickford owned was called Pickfair.
24 Was Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel's basis for the overall physical look of Superman.
25 Son-in-law of Charlotte Smith.
26 Pictured on a 20¢ US commemorative postage stamp in the Performing Arts USA series, issued 23 May 1984.
27 Father of Douglas Fairbanks Jr.
28 Father-in-law of Joan Crawford.
29 Brother-in-law of Lottie Pickford and Jack Pickford.
30 Brother of Robert Fairbanks, John Fairbanks.
31 He frequently requested that his name be listed last in the film credits.
32 Interred at Hollywood Memorial Cemetery (now called Hollywood Forever), Hollywood, California, USA.
33 Performed most of the stunts in his films himself. He was an excellent athlete and used his physical abilities to his best advantage. However, there were instances when a stuntman was used (as proved by outtakes from The Gaucho (1927)), as these types of stunts were deemed too risky for the star.
34 One of the 36 founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS)
35 Born at 9:00am-LMT- (MST).
36 Uncle of Lucile Fairbanks


Actor

Actor

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Ali Baba Goes to Town 1937 Douglas Fairbanks - at Fictional Premiere (uncredited)
The Private Life of Don Juan 1934 Don Juan
Mr. Robinson Crusoe 1932 Steve Drexel
Reaching for the Moon 1930 Larry Day
Terra Melophon Magazin Nr. 1 1930 Short episode "Welches ist ihr Typ"
The Taming of the Shrew 1929 Petruchio
The Iron Mask 1929 D'Artagnan
Show People 1928 Douglas Fairbanks (uncredited)
The Gaucho 1927 The Gaucho
The Black Pirate 1926 The Duke of Arnoldo / The Black Pirate (as Mr. Douglas Fairbanks)
Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ 1925 Chariot Race Spectator (uncredited)
Don Q Son of Zorro 1925 Don Cesar de Vega Zorro - His Father
The Thief of Bagdad 1924 The Thief of Bagdad
Robin Hood 1922 The Earl of Huntingdon Afterwards Robin Hood
The Three Musketeers 1921 D'Artagnan
The Nut 1921/I Charlie Jackson
The Mark of Zorro 1920 Don Diego Vega Señor Zorro
The Mollycoddle 1920 Richard Marshall III Richard Marshall IV Richard Marshall V
When the Clouds Roll by 1919 Daniel Boone Brown
His Majesty, the American 1919 William Brooks
The Knickerbocker Buckaroo 1919 Teddy Drake
Swat the Kaiser 1918 Short
Arizona 1918 Lt. Denton
Sic 'Em, Sam 1918 Short Democracy
He Comes Up Smiling 1918 Jerry Martin
Bound in Morocco 1918 George Travelwell
Say! Young Fellow 1918 The Young Fellow
Mr. Fix-It 1918 Dick Remington
Headin' South 1918 Headin' South
Reaching for the Moon 1917 Alexis Caesar Napoleon Brown
All-Star Production of Patriotic Episodes for the Second Liberty Loan 1917
The Man from Painted Post 1917 'Fancy Jim' Sherwood
Down to Earth 1917 Billy Gaynor
Wild and Woolly 1917 Jeff Hillington
In Again, Out Again 1917/II Teddy Rutherford
The Americano 1916 Blaze Derringer
The Matrimaniac 1916 Jimmie Conroy
American Aristocracy 1916 Cassius Lee
Manhattan Madness 1916 Steve O'Dare
Intolerance: Love's Struggle Throughout the Ages 1916 Man on White Horse (uncredited)
The Half-Breed 1916 Lo Dorman (Sleeping Water)
Flirting with Fate 1916 Augy Holliday
The Mystery of the Leaping Fish 1916 Short Coke Ennyday / Douglas Fairbanks
Reggie Mixes In 1916 Reggie Van Deuzen
The Good Bad Man 1916 Passin' Through
The Habit of Happiness 1916 Sunny Wiggins
His Picture in the Papers 1916 Pete Prindle
Double Trouble 1915 Florian Amidon / Eugene Brassfield
Martyrs of the Alamo 1915 Joe / Texan Soldier (unconfirmed, uncredited)
The Lamb 1915 Gerald

Producer

Producer

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Mr. Robinson Crusoe 1932 producer
Reaching for the Moon 1930 producer - uncredited
The Iron Mask 1929 producer - uncredited
The Gaucho 1927 producer - uncredited
The Black Pirate 1926 producer - uncredited
Don Q Son of Zorro 1925 producer - uncredited
The Thief of Bagdad 1924 producer
Robin Hood 1922 producer - uncredited
The Three Musketeers 1921 producer - uncredited
The Nut 1921/I producer
The Mark of Zorro 1920 executive producer
The Mollycoddle 1920 producer
When the Clouds Roll by 1919 producer
His Majesty, the American 1919 producer
The Knickerbocker Buckaroo 1919 producer
Arizona 1918 producer
He Comes Up Smiling 1918 producer
Bound in Morocco 1918 producer
Say! Young Fellow 1918 producer
Mr. Fix-It 1918 producer
Headin' South 1918 producer
A Modern Musketeer 1917 producer - uncredited
Reaching for the Moon 1917 producer
The Man from Painted Post 1917 producer
Down to Earth 1917 producer
Wild and Woolly 1917 producer
In Again, Out Again 1917/II producer
The Good Bad Man 1916 producer

Writer

Writer

TitleYearStatusCharacter
The Thief of Baghdad 1961 as Douglas Fairbanks Sr.
Mr. Robinson Crusoe 1932 story - as Elton Thomas
The Iron Mask 1929 screenplay - uncredited / story - as Elton Thomas / titles - uncredited
The Gaucho 1927 story - as Elton Thomas
The Black Pirate 1926 story - as Elton Thomas
The Thief of Bagdad 1924 story - as Elton Thomas
Robin Hood 1922 story - as Elton Thomas
The Three Musketeers 1921 uncredited
The Nut 1921/I as Elton Thomas
The Mark of Zorro 1920 scenario - uncredited
The Mollycoddle 1920 uncredited
When the Clouds Roll by 1919 story - uncredited
His Majesty, the American 1919 scenario - as Elton Banks
The Knickerbocker Buckaroo 1919 as Elton Banks / story - as Elton Banks
Arizona 1918 writer
Bound in Morocco 1918 screenplay - as Elton Thomas / story - as Elton Thomas
The Man from Painted Post 1917 scenario
Down to Earth 1917 story
The Good Bad Man 1916

Director

Director

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Around the World with Douglas Fairbanks 1931 Documentary as Douglas Fairbanks Sr.
Arizona 1918

Miscellaneous

Miscellaneous

TitleYearStatusCharacter
The Three Musketeers 1921 presents
The Mollycoddle 1920 supervisor - uncredited

Self

Self

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Hollywood Mothers and Fathers 1955 Documentary short Himself
Screen Snapshots 1932/II Documentary short Himself
Around the World with Douglas Fairbanks 1931 Documentary Himself
Screen Snapshots Series 9, No. 23 1930 Short Himself, at Premiere
Screen Snapshots Series 9, No. 24 1930 Short Himself
Screen Snapshots Series 9, No. 22 1930 Short Himself
Character Studies 1927 Short Himself (uncredited)
Potseluy Meri Pikford 1927 Himself
Screen Snapshots No. 2 1925 Documentary short Himself
Screen Snapshots, Series 6, No. 2 1925 Documentary short Himself
Twinkle Twinkle 1925 Documentary short Himself
Screen Snapshots, Series 5, No. 14 1925 Documentary short Himself
Screen Snapshots, Series 5, No. 1 1924 Documentary short Himself
Screen Snapshots, Series 4, No. 11 1924 Documentary short Himself
Screen Snapshots, Series 4, No. 8 1923 Documentary short Himself
Hollywood 1923 Himself
Screen Snapshots, Series 3, No. 26 1923 Documentary short Himself
Screen Snapshots, Series 3, No. 19 1923 Documentary short Himself
Screen Snapshots, Series 3, No. 10 1922 Documentary short Himself
Screen Snapshots, Series 3, No. 1 1922 Documentary short Himself
Screen Snapshots, Series 2, No. 22-F 1922 Documentary short Himself
Non-Sense of Censorship 1921 Documentary short
Screen Snapshots, Series 2, No. 14-F 1921 Documentary short Himself
Screen Snapshots, Series 1, No. 24 1921 Documentary short Himself
Screen Snapshots, Series 1, No. 11 1920 Documentary short Himself
Animated Weekly, No. 57 1917 Documentary short Himself
Our Mutual Girl, No. 47 1914 Short Himself
Our Mutual Girl 1914 Himself (episode 47)
Animated Weekly, No. 41 1912 Documentary short Himself

Archive Footage

Archive Footage

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Cecil B. DeMille: American Epic 2004 TV Movie documentary Himself
Chaplin Today: The Gold Rush 2003 TV Short documentary Himself
The Tramp and the Dictator 2002 Documentary Himself (uncredited)
Biography 2001 TV Series documentary Himself
Douglas Fairbanks Sr. and Mary Pickford 2000 TV Movie documentary
Without Lying Down: Frances Marion and the Power of Women in Hollywood 2000 TV Movie documentary Himself (uncredited)
The Many Faces of Zorro 2000 Video documentary
Canada: A People's History 2000 TV Series Himself
The Worlds of Mei Lanfang 2000 Documentary
Kings of the Ring: Four Legends of Heavyweight Boxing 2000 TV Movie documentary Himself
Star Power: The Creation of United Artists 1998 Video documentary Himself
Glorious Technicolor 1998 TV Movie documentary Himself
History's Mysteries 1998 TV Series documentary Himself
Mary Pickford: A Life on Film 1997 Documentary Himself / Various Roles (uncredited)
Cinema Europe: The Other Hollywood 1995 TV Mini-Series documentary Himself
The First 100 Years: A Celebration of American Movies 1995 TV Movie documentary Himself
American Masters 1993 TV Series documentary Himself
Entertaining the Troops 1988 Documentary Himself
What Do Those Old Films Mean? 1985 TV Series Himself (in Paris, 1920) (uncredited)
Unknown Chaplin 1983 TV Mini-Series documentary Himself
Historia del cine: Epoca muda 1983 Video documentary Various roles
Journey to Krull 1983 Video documentary short The Thief of Bagdad (uncredited)
Great Movie Stunts: Raiders of the Lost Ark 1981 TV Movie documentary
The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson 1981 TV Series Himself from NBC Special BOB HOPE'S 30TH ANNIVERSARY
Komediya davno minuvshikh dney 1980
Hollywood 1980 TV Mini-Series documentary Himself / Actor 'Robin Hood'
Dora and the Magic Lantern 1978 La Marque de Zorro
World Cinema 1973 TV Series Diego Vega Zorro
The Age of Ballyhoo 1973 Video documentary Himself
Dieu a choisi Paris 1969 Himself
The Funniest Man in the World 1967 Documentary Himself
Hollywood My Home Town 1965 Documentary Himself
The Big Parade of Comedy 1964 Documentary Actor Arriving at MGM (uncredited)
Hollywood and the Stars 1964 TV Series Himself
The Judy Garland Show 1964 TV Series Himself
Fractured Flickers 1963 TV Series
Hollywood: The Great Stars 1963 TV Movie documentary Actor 'The Mark of Zorro' (uncredited)
30 Years of Fun 1963
Hollywood Without Make-Up 1963 Documentary Himself
The Great Chase 1962 Documentary
The DuPont Show of the Week 1962 TV Series Himself
Hollywood: The Golden Years 1961 TV Movie documentary Actor 'The Three Musketeers' (uncredited)
Silents Please 1961 TV Series Duke of Arnaldo
The Legend of Rudolph Valentino 1961 Video documentary Himself
Movies Golden Age 1961 TV Movie documentary Steve O'Dare
Days of Thrills and Laughter 1961 Documentary Himself
Project XX 1956 TV Series documentary Himself - Actor
Screen Snapshots: Ramblin' Round Hollywood 1955 Documentary short Himself
Screen Snapshots: Hollywood Stars to Remember 1954 Short Himself
Yesterday and Today 1953
Screen Snapshots: Memorial to Al Jolson 1952 Documentary short Himself
The Golden Twenties 1950 Documentary Himself
Movies Are Adventure 1948 Short uncredited
Screen Snapshots Series 25, No. 10: Famous Fathers and Sons 1946 Documentary short Himself
Screen Snapshots Series 25, No. 1: 25th Anniversary 1945 Documentary short Himself
Wilson 1944 Himself - at WWI Rally (uncredited)
The Cavalcade of Academy Awards from 1928-1939 1940 Documentary short Himself
The Movies March On 1939 Short documentary Himself - From 'Robin Hood'
Personality Parade 1938 Documentary short Himself (uncredited)
Movie Memories 1934 Documentary short Himself
The House That Shadows Built 1931 Documentary
Little Miss Hollywood 1923 Short Himself in Film Clip
Charmed Lives: A Family Romance Documentary pre-production Himself
Un jour, une histoire 2014 TV Series documentary Himself
La naissance de Charlot 2013 TV Movie documentary Himself
Ninja the Mission Force 2013 TV Series Pirate
Edición Especial Coleccionista 2012 TV Series Himself
Time to Remember 2010 TV Series documentary Himself
Mary Pickford: The Muse of the Movies 2008 Documentary Himself
Spisok korabley 2008 Documentary The Black Pirate
Burn Hollywood Burn 2007 TV Series documentary Himself
Why Be Good? Sexuality & Censorship in Early Cinema 2007 Documentary Himself
MythBusters 2007 TV Series documentary The Black Pirate
City Confidential 2002-2007 TV Series documentary Himself
World of Robin Hood 2006 TV Movie documentary Robin Hood (uncredited)
Silent Britain 2006 TV Movie documentary Himself (uncredited)
Life Is a Dream in Cinema: Pola Negri 2006 Documentary Himself
Filmmakers in Action 2005 Documentary Himself (uncredited)
Douglas Fairbanks: The Great Swashbuckler 2005 Video Himself
The Forgotten Films of Roscoe Fatty Arbuckle 2005 Video documentary
American Experience 2005 TV Series documentary Himself
Final Cut: The Making and Unmaking of Heaven's Gate 2004 Documentary Himself

Won awards

Won awards

YearAwardCeremonyNominationMovieAward shared with
1960 Star on the Walk of Fame Walk of Fame Motion Picture On 8 February 1960. At 7022 Hollywood Blvd.
1940 Honorary Award Academy Awards, USA

Recognizing the unique and outstanding contribution of Douglas Fairbanks, first president of the ... More

1923 Medal of Honor Photoplay Awards Robin Hood (1922)

TitleSalary
Reaching for the Moon (1930) $300,000
The Iron Mask (1929) $40,000
Flirting with Fate (1916) $10,000 /week
The Habit of Happiness (1916) $2,000 /week
His Picture in the Papers (1916) $2,000 /week
Double Trouble (1915) $2,000 /week
The Lamb (1915) $2,000 /week

#Quote
1 [Referring to D.W. Griffith] D. W. didn't like my athletic tendencies, or my spontaneous habit of jumping a fence or scaling a church at unexpected moments which were not in the script. Griffith told me to go into Keystone comedies.
2 The man that's out to do something has to keep in high gear all the time.
3 [last words] I never felt better in my life.

#Trademark
1 Stunts He did all his own, with one exception

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