- NAME: Douglas Fairbanks Sr.
- OCCUPATION: Film Actor, Producer
- BIRTH DATE: May 23, 1883
- DEATH DATE: December 12, 1939
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Denver, California
- PLACE OF DEATH: Santa Monica, California
- Originally: Douglas Elton Thomas Ullman
- AKA: Douglas Elton Ulman
- AKA: Douglas Elton Thomas Ulman
- AKA: Douglas Fairbanks Sr.
Best Known For
Silent movie star Douglas Fairbanks Sr. (1883–39) teamed up with Charlie Chaplin, D.W. Griffith and his wife Mary Pickford to launch United Artists in 1919.
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Silent movie star Douglas Fairbanks Sr. was born on May 23, 1883 in Denver, Colorado. A popular Broadway actor, Fairbanks made his first film for D.W. Griffith in 1915 (The Lamb). In the 1920s, Fairbanks played swashbucklers like Robin Hood and Zorro, and won the heart and hand of fellow screen idol Mary Pickford. Along with Charlie Chaplin and D.W. Griffith,
the couple launched the independent studio United Artists in 1919.
Born on May 23, 1883 in Denver, Colorado, Douglas Fairbanks Sr. was a leading star of the silent film era. He was named Douglas Elton Ulman at birth, but he took the last name Fairbanks after his parents' divorce when he was a child. Fairbanks started acting in his early teens, appearing in local productions. A student at the Colorado School of Mines, he also performed in some school shows as well.
Heading east in 1900, Fairbanks made his way to New York City. His first role on Broadway came two years later in Her Lord and Master. More stage work soon followed with Fairbanks tackling both comedic and dramatic parts. In 1907, he began a dalliance with a business career after his marriage to Anna Beth Sully. But Fairbanks soon returned to his life as an actor. He and his wife welcomed a son, Douglas Jr., in 1909.
A successful stage actor, Fairbanks soon attracted the attention of the film industry. He made his movie debut in D.W. Griffith's The Lamb in 1915. Fairbanks made flurry of films over the next few years, including The Americano (1916).
Fairbanks proved to be quite business savvy, signing a groundbreaking deal with Artcraft studios to produce his own films, starting with Reaching for the Moon (1917). This way he had more control of the quality and content of his movies—he even wrote or revised some of his film's scripts under the pseudonym Elton Thomas. Fairbanks quickly became a popular leading man, known for his charm, good nature and athletic prowess and physique.
In 1919, Fairbanks made another smart move. He teamed up with Charlie Chaplin, D.W. Griffith and Mary Pickford to launch the independent studio United Artists. His Majesty, the American was the first release by United Artists and starred Fairbanks.
Douglas Fairbank's relationship with Mary Pickford should have been the subject of great scandal. The pair took up with each other while they each married to other people. But they divorced their spouses and married in 1920, much to the adoration of their fans. The couple was even greet by hordes of admirers while on their honeymoon abroad.
Fairbanks and Pickford were one of Hollywood's first super couples, attracting extensive media coverage of their relationship. Their Beverly Hills home, Pickfair, became the site of numerous soirees and celebrations attended by many celebrities and leading figures in film.
Fairbanks often played swashbuckling heroes in his films. He enjoyed great success as Zorro in 1920's The Mark of Zorro.
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