Famous American silent movie actor was Douglas Fairbanks was born in Denver, Colorado on May 23, 1889. His father Charles Ulman escaped his responsibility of fatherhood by separating with his wife and leaving his two sons Douglas and Robert with their mother. However, his sons had some happy memories about their father. Their mother Ella Fairbanks, besides taking care of them, influenced Doug’s interest to become an actor. According to her: “Doug was physically active from a young age, falling off the roof”. Growing up in Denver, Doug started acting in theaters around the city. His mother took him to theater performances and shows. As a result young Doug met the retired actress Maude Fealy, who was his first instructor. Soon after, Doug was brought to the attention of the professional actor-manager Frederick Warde.

After Doug turned 17 he moved to New York City by taking an offering from Mr.Warde. Having not finished his senior year, young Fairbanks worked at many places, besides trying to make his way to the Broadway stage. Finally singing a contract with the theatrical producer William Brady, he joined the company for the Broadway season. Doug hoped to reach the top, and worked very hard to succeed. Although first his movies did not make him famous, success was not far from him.

In 1907 Mr. Fairbanks met and married the beautiful blond Anna Beth Sully, whose father was in a big business. Doug happily agreed to work with her father and stop theatrical acting for a little while. Soon after their marriage Anna gave birth to Douglas Fairbanks Jr., who was named after his father. In 1915, coming back to acting Doug entered the company Triangle of Fine Arts, where he made his debut with the picture “The Lamb”.(geocities. com). Over the next several years , after his successful movies such as ” The Half Breed”, “Manhattan Madness” , ” The Americano”, and some others, and Doug became quite popular, not just in the United States ,but also in Europe .

By that time, becoming a well-known actor and making enough money, Doug was able to create his own production companies and his own movies. He was not only an actor, but also produced many movies and wrote scripts with his pseudonym Elton Thomas. (biography.com). In 1915 Fairbanks met Mary Pickford and they instantly fell in love, although both of them were married at that time. Hollywood’s couple kept it in secret for three years in order to prevent a scandal for the whole of America. (douglasfairbanks.org/bio.htm). In 1919, Doug was involved with the United Artists Corporation with his best friend Charley Chaplin and his secret girlfriend Mary Pickford.

They supported the producers and movie makers, helping them to protect their financial earnings. For the next few years Douglas Fairbanks was not only involved in the film industry, but also produced entertaining pictures. His movies were even more famous for their expense , beauty and exciting activity in his new style of swashbuckler; these included “The Mask of Zorro”, ” The Three Musketeers”, ” The Thief of Baghdad” and “Robin Hood”.

Finally in 1920 the couple of Hollywood got married after divorcing with their past lovers. By that time Mary Pickford was increasing her popularity in American movies and with Doug they were called “The King and The Queen of Hollywood” (biography.com). Together they went to Europe for their honeymoon, where they had high regards of European crowds. (geocities.com). They were together everywhere: making movies and showing up at the all parties of Hollywood; working in the United Artist Corporation and traveling around Europe. This couple stayed in the memories of many Americans for a long time.

By 1927 Douglas was approaching the end of his artistic career, but he still was active in developing the American picture industry. Being 44 years old, Doug could not be a heroic swashbuckler as well as before. Giving speeches on opening movie theaters he concentrated on building the future of movie production in the United States. Fairbanks was one of the founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science where he was its first president, taking part of the first ceremony of Academy Awards .(Encyclopedia of Popular Culture p.58) Doug helped to financially support the project of Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood and raised other important developments to improve movie production. Being one of the first silent movie stars Douglas definitely influenced American cinematography.

As an artistic person Doug had some other interests in his life. Since childhood he would act and sing. Douglas also loved to watch fascinating performances and theater shows. The writing of books, stories, journals and memorizing poems were included in his artistic interests as well. As a result many of his movies are based on real stories from Doug’s life. Staying in Europe for months and traveling numerous times with Mary or alone Douglas had strong international interests. One of his best adventures was the Honeymoon he spent traveling in Europe. He liked sports as well: when he was a child he often used to go out camping or mountain climbing with his father. As Doug grew up he kept practicing athletics consistently, keeping his figure and appearance in good shape all the time. This was one of the reasons for his attractiveness.

Douglas Fairbanks Sr., athletic, optimistic, devoted and persona of endless possibilities, was one of the founders of American silent movies. He had a special impact both on his audience and his coworkers. He was a successful businessman with a vision in the film industry. Being an excellent actor, some of his pictures will never be forgotten and will remain in the minds of many Americans as “The King of Hollywood”.

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William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team)
William completed his Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts in 2013. He current serves as a lecturer, tutor and freelance writer. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, walking his dog and parasailing. Article last reviewed: 2022 | St. Rosemary Institution © 2010-2024 | Creative Commons 4.0

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