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Douglas Fairbanks Jr. Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (5)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (3)  | Trivia (32)  | Personal Quotes (7)  | Salary (1)

Overview (5)

Born in New York City, New York, USA
Died in New York City, New York, USA  (heart attack)
Birth NameDouglas Elton Ulman Fairbanks Junior
Nickname Doug
Height 6' 1" (1.85 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Although he appeared in approximately 100 movies or TV shows, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. never really intended to take up acting as a career. However, the environment he was born into and the circumstances naturally led him to be a thespian. Noblesse oblige.

He was born Douglas Elton Fairbanks, Jr. in New York City, New York, to Anna Beth (Sully), daughter of a very wealthy cotton mogul, and actor Douglas Fairbanks (born Douglas Elton Thomas Ullman), then not yet established as the swashbuckling idol he would become. Fairbanks, Jr. had German Jewish (from his paternal grandfather), English, and Scottish ancestry.

He proved a gifted boy early in life. To the end of his life he remained a multi-talented, hyperactive man, not content to appear in the 100 films mentioned above. Handsome, distinguished and extremely bright, he excelled at sports (much like his father), notably during his stay at the Military Academy in 1919 (his role in Claude Autant-Lara's "L'athlète incomplete" illustrated these abilities). He also excelled academically, and attended the Lycéee Janson de Sailly in Paris, where he had followed his divorced mother. Very early in his life he developed a taste for the arts as well and became a painter and sculptor. Not content to limiting himself to just one field, he became involved in business, in fields as varied as mining, hotel management, owning a chain of bowling alleys and a firm that manufactured popcorn. During World War II he headed London's Douglas Voluntary Hospital (an establishment taking care of war refugees), was President Franklin D. Roosevelt's special envoy for the Special Mission to South America in 1940 before becoming a lieutenant in the Navy (he was promoted to the rank of captain in 1954) and taking part in the Allies' landing in Sicily and Elba in 1943. A fervent Anglophile, was knighted in 1949 and often entertained Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip in his London mansion, "The Boltons".

His film career began at the age of 13 when he was signed by Paramount Pictures. He debuted in Stephen Steps Out (1923) but the film flopped and his career stagnated despite a critically acclaimed role in Stella Dallas (1925). Things really picked up when he married Lucille Le Sueur, a young starlet who was soon to become better known as Joan Crawford. The young couple became the toast of the town (one "Screen Snapshots" episode echoes this sudden glory) and good parts and success followed, such as the hapless partner of Edward G. Robinson in Little Caesar (1931) a favorably reviewed turn as the villain in The Prisoner of Zenda (1937) or more debonair characters in slapstick comedies or adventure yarns. The 1930s were a fruitful period for Fairbanks, his most memorable role probably being that of the British soldier in Gunga Din (1939); although it was somewhat of a "swasbuckling" role, Fairbanks made a point of never imitating his father. After the World War II, his star waned and, despite a moving part in Ghost Story (1981), he did not appear in a major movie. Now a legend himself, Douglas Fairbanks Jr. left this world with the satisfaction of having lived up to the Fairbanks name at the end of a life nobody could call "wasted".

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Guy Bellinger

Spouse (3)

Vera Fairbanks (30 May 1991 - 7 May 2000) ( his death)
Mary Lee Eppling (23 April 1939 - 14 September 1988) ( her death) ( 3 children)
Joan Crawford (3 June 1929 - 15 May 1934) ( divorced)

Trivia (32)

Interred at Hollywood Forever Cemetery in same crypt with father, Douglas Fairbanks, Sr.
His death was reported on the front page of the Times in London and Buckingham Palace expressed its condolences on his demise
Created an honorary Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in 1949
Cousin of Lucile Fairbanks.
Cousin-in-law of Owen Crump.
He had a lifelong, cultivated interest in international affairs. In 1941 President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed him a special envoy to South America.
He held the Silver Star and the Legion of Merit with V for valor in combat device from the U.S. government for his combat service in PT boats and gunboats.
His father, Douglas Fairbanks, was his best man at his marriage to Mary Lee Eppling.
Had three daughters with Mary Lee Eppling; Daphne Nancy-Beth Fairbanks (born April 8, 1940), Victoria Susan Fairbanks (born 1942) and Melissa Louise Fairbanks (born October 25, 1947).
Was awarded the British Distinguished Service Cross, the French Legion of Honor and Croix de Guerre with Palm for his services during World War II.
Biography in: "American National Biography". Supplement 1, pp. 196-197. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.
Brother-in-law of Hal Le Sueur.
Host of an entertaining introductory film shown to visitors of the Smithsonian's National Air & Space Museum in Washington D.C.
Interviewed in "Talking to the Piano Player: Silent Film Stars, Writers and Directors Remember" by Stuart Oderman (BearManor Media).
He was awarded three Stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Motion Pictures at 6318 Hollywood Blvd., for Radio at 6710 Hollywood Blvd. and for Television at 6661 Hollywood Blvd.
A heavy drinker.
Had eight grandchildren from his three daughters with Mary Lee Eppling.
He was announced to star in the first film for Fairbanks-International, his father's new company, in 1939, entitled "The Californian," but plans were canceled following the death of his father, Douglas Fairbanks He received the news that his father was weakening while shooting night scenes for Safari (1939), but by the time he arrived his father had already passed away.
In addition to publishing two volumes of autobiography--"The Salad Days" (1988) and "A Hell of a War" (1993)--he collaborated with Richard Schickel on the illustrated survey of both he and father Douglas Fairbanks called "The Fairbanks Album" (1975) and Jeffrey Vance with a critical study/biography of Fairbanks Sr., ultimately published as "Douglas Fairbanks" (2008).
Westridge--his California Spanish-style estate--was sold to Steven Spielberg.
His knowledge of French was so good that he played in French-language films in the early talkie era made in Hollywood for French consumption.
He was offered the role of Robin Hood in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) but turned it down, as he did not want to be seen as aping his father Douglas Fairbanks' performance in Robin Hood (1922).
His second wife Mary Lee, to whom he was married for almost 50 years, had been the first wife of A&P heir Huntington Hartford.
Has never appeared in a Best Picture Oscar nominated film.
During WWII he commanded a British landing party and served under Lord Mountbatten.
During the 1950's he produced and often starred in 160 episodes of the television series 'Douglas Fairbanks Jr Presents in England'. and branched out into other ventures including hotels.
Although he was born in New York he became an Angophile where from the 1950's to the 70's, he lived in the South Kensington area of London where he regularly entertained the Queen and Prince Phillip. He returned to America in 1976 but often returned to England on visits.
In 1951 King George VI awarded him an honorary knighthood for furthering Anglo - American unity.
Spent a week in 1934 in a play at the Theatre Royal Newcastle Upon Tyne.
Scandal surfaced in 1963 when he was named in the notorious Profumo trial as having been introduced to the call girls Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice Davies but this failed to dent his reputation and he went onto make a triumphant return to the stage as Proffesor Higgins in 'My Fair Lady'.
Very fond of Northumberland which he first visited when he was looking for castle locations for a film to be called 'The Last Minstrel' One of the castles he looked at was Dilston Castle near Hexham.

Personal Quotes (7)

I was only saying to the Queen the other day how I hate name dropping . . .
I never tried to emulate my father. Anyone trying to do that would be a second-rate carbon copy.
[in 1990] I suppose many people don't even know if I'm still alive--well, perhaps I'm not.
[on Edward G. Robinson] I will never forget the pleasure and instruction I derived from working with a true master of his art, such as Edward G. Robinson was--and is. Surely his record for versatility, studied characterization--ranging from modern colloquial to the classics--and artistic integrity is unsurpassed. Furthermore, everyone who has worked with him recalls with pleasure his considerable personal charm.
[on Irene Dunne] Nothing is instinctive, everything she does is very carefully thought out, she knows her camera and lighting as well as any cameraman, she knows every movement, every intonation, every nuance. She's a first-class craftswoman. But instead of being dull and perfect, she's absolutely enchanting and perfect.
[on Joan Crawford] She was always so arduous and working so hard at everything; at dancing, on her looks, on her speech and on her carriage. She was dedicated to self-improvement.
Like many beautiful women, New York looks wonderful from a distance. From across the river. But the closer you come, the more you see the makeup. Sure, the Algonquin Hotel is still here. I roller-skated across the lobby as a boy. And the Netherland Hotel is now the Sherry Netherland. And there's bits and pieces of the Upper West Side I still know. But how dirty it all is now. And dangerous. But it's still exciting and it's still my home. So I'm loyal to it, in a way.

Salary (1)

Gunga Din (1939) $117,000

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