Tuesday, April 7, 2015

F for Douglas Fairbanks



Born: May 23, 1883

Died: December 12, 1939

Aged: 56 years-heart attack

Real Name: Douglas Elton Ullman

Marriages: 3 times-2nd to Mary Pickford and 3rd to Lady Sylvia Ashley

Famous Friend: Charlie Chaplin

Famous Son: Douglas Fairbanks Jnr.

Happy go-lucky, swashbuckling prankster who was very physically fit, did most of his own stunts and never drank. His physique and looks were the basis of Superman and his portrayal of Zorro  was the inspiration for Batman! He was a founding member of the Oscars. He loved doing his own stunts and everything was designed in his films according to his weight and height so it looked like he did them with ease. He and Chaplin loved hanging out together and truly enjoyed one another's company. They went on a War Bond selling tour which brought in huge crowds and helped the war effort (WW1).  Fairbanks, Chaplin, D.W. Griffith (the father of film he is often called-a director) and Mary Pickford, "America's Sweetheart" (she was Canadian) formed United Artists so they could be independent from the other studios. He and Pickford met in the teens and fell deeply in love even though both were married to others at the time. When his mother died, he and Mary went for a drive and when he broke down, they noticed the clock, in the car, stopped at the moment his mom had died. They took this as a sign of their love and their catch phrase to each other was "By The Clock".  They were able to get divorces, married and honeymooned in Europe. In London they were so overwhelmed by their fans(300,000) that there was a real fear of being trampled to death. There are pictures of Pickford on Fairbanks shoulders and she looks scared! They bought a home in Hollywood which they named "Pickfair" and it became THE place to be invited over. Kings, presidents, heads of state all stayed at Pickfair. Lord Mountbatten had his honeymoon there.(Pickfair was bought by Pia Zadora and, despite opposition from his son and the historical society, she razed it to the ground in 1990). They were more famous than anyone you could think of today. Sadly, they divorced but never fell out of love for one another and both kept pictures of one another on their bedside table even though they remarried to other people. In 1939 he suffered a heart attack, he was in poor condition and family and friends came to see him. He told his brother to see Mary and give her a message-"By The Clock".

Films:  "The Americano", "Wild and Wooly", "The Mark of Zorro",  "The 3 Musketeers", "Robin Hood", "The Thief of Bagdad", "The Black Pirate", "The Gaucho", "The Taming of the Shrew"

Quote: (his last words) "I never felt better in my life."

In London




 selling war bonds

The films in bold are films to choose first to watch but others  are great too

54 comments:

  1. A successful actor who never drank. Sounds very original for those days. Interesting facts that I never knew. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. He was original and didn't like the stuff at all

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  2. Oh no! Almost cried at that last bit. Anabel at Anabel's Travel Blog

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    1. I know-very sad and a great love story

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  3. Never drank and kept fit and got a heart attack, hmph. Genes do us in a lot I guess. Brought about Batman, can`t beat that

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    1. When all is said and done, I guess it is in the genes.

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  4. You gotta love the swashbucklers! He really is the epitome of the stars of the early days of the silver screen. Good one, Birgit!

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    1. He was the epitome along with Pickford

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  5. I didn't know about Superman and Batman, how interesting. Also interesting, and sad, that he didn't drink and was so fit but then died so young.

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    1. I know-kinda neat huh! It says much about genes in the end

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  6. What a great, great story (well, with the possible exception of that divorce thing...that is a little seamy). Soooo, HE'S Batman. A real movie hero.

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    1. He is the inspiration for it and for Superman (Harold Lloyd was for Clark Kent )

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  7. Lovely biography you presented of this man who seemed like such a gallant gentleman. It makes me want to watch some of his films again. Well done!

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    1. Thank you-His films are so much fun

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  8. Robin Hood! Great film. And as ever, great choice for F!

    Good luck with the 2015 A to Z Challenge!
    A to Z Co-Host S. L. Hennessy
    http://pensuasion.blogspot.com

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  9. Goodness, he died young didn't he? I didn't realize he was the inspiration for Superman and Batman, crazy!

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    1. I know and it is sad he died so young because he did things all the right way-it boils down to genes

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  10. What a sweet love story with Mary Pickard and Douglas Fairbanks. Glad they decided to take the plunge and be together so to speak. I wonder how one can get through life without drinking, that was good for him though! That and doing his own stunts!

    betty

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    1. They had a great love story and he did most of his own stunts unless it was a far off shot then why?

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  11. So I wonder why they got divorced - sad. It was unusual that he didn't drink. Pity about their house too.

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    1. I was so angry when I heard about Pickfair. Mary started to drink on the side. Her brother and sister both were alcoholics. The coming of sound, being away on the set and just growing apart. It is a shame

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  12. Douglas Fairbanks was a Hollywood icon. Not one single drink? Amazing.

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  13. If he was fit and didn't drink, I wonder what caused his heart attack at such a young age?

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    1. I thought about that too. It must be genetic but his son lived to a nice ripe old age.

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  14. They really had to act in those days. So acrobatic and expressive. Its amazing how he got the bird to fly around in his comes up smiling footage.

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    1. He was and I love him in Robin Hood and The Thief of Bagdad: because he showed his athleticism

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  15. Pickfair is so famous that it shows up in historical fiction, wish I could remember the books at the moment. It's sad that it wasn't preserved. Sad that he had a heart attack at such a young age. Maybe he and Mary could have reunited... such a love story.

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    1. It's is horrible the place was not preserved-horrible actually. I like to think they are now together in Heaven somewhere

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  16. I'm loving this series you are doing. Have you ever thought of writing bibliographies? You'd do a fantastic job.

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    1. Oh that is nice of you:) I never thought of that at all-I just don't think it would be all that great and I wouldn't even know where to start

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  17. Such a tragedy that he died so young! And as for the house being demolished, that was a travesty.

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    1. he did die way too young and I could have slapped Pia Zadora. She is such a no nothing and to do this to a home that was a part of history is horrible. I had read that she felt she could feel ghosts around and it was hard for her so that is the reason she demolished it-the silly bitch

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  18. What a swashbuckler he was. I love seeing his old movies, even though they make me laugh with the speed and the way they had to ham it up to make it clear what the character felt. My favorite is The Thief of Bagdad. Some people have no respect for history. I'd say Pia is among the barbarians I'd rather not know.

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    1. He was great and the speed is because we changed the speed of the camera later so the silent films all look faster because of that reason. They initially didn't play like that unless they wanted it that way.

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  19. So sad that he died of a heart attack so young, having been so healthy and having said he never felt better in his life.

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    1. I know-now there would be a big inquest but not back then

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  20. Very cool stuff...

    Jeremy [Retro]
    AtoZ Challenge Co-Host [2015]

    There's no earthly way of knowing.
    Which direction we are going!

    HOLLYWOOD NUTS!
    Come Visit: You know you want to know if me or Hollywood... is Nuts?

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  21. He never drank? Wow. For some reason I had it in my head that he had been a drinker. He died too young.

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    1. I know because he seemed the "type" but he truly wasn't.

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  22. I didn't know anything about him! I learned a lot. I have seen clips with him in them, but don't remember ever seeing one of his movies. Interesting that he didn't drink- but was such good friends with Chaplin.
    ~Jess

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    1. he and Chaplin got along famously much to the chagrin of Mary. They both loved to laugh and do stunts

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  23. Wow, a Hollywood actor who never drank - that's rare! I have seen the Thief of Baghdad but didn't know who the actors were. What a shame his mansion was razed to the ground, would've been a historical landmark.

    Many thanks for the visit!
    P.S. I love the cards you featured here, too!

    Postcards Crossing

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    1. Oh thank you! I could have killed Pia Zadora for doing that but I would have to stand in line

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  24. He's the absolute Robin Hood for me.

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  25. What a thorough telling of him! I enjoyed it. and I love the Celtic letter "F".

    Thanks for your comment on my blog!

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  26. I love the depiction of him with Mary and Chaplin in the film Chaplin...I think with Robert Downey Jr. Those were the early days of Hollywood and it must have been so exhilarating to be part of that scene. Nice post, Birgit!

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    1. Thank you:) Yes it was with Robert Downey Jnr and he was up for an Oscar for that portrayal

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  27. Wow, I didn't know almost any of that about him. I've always thought him very handsome. What a time to be alive... Lisa, co-host AtoZ 2015, @ http://www.lisabuiecollard.com

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