Douglas Fairbanks

Douglas Fairbanks

  • Highest Rated: 100% The Iron Mask (1929)
  • Lowest Rated: 88% Mary Pickford: The Muse of the Movies (2008)
  • Birthday: Invalid date
  • Birthplace: Denver, Colorado, USA
  • American actor Douglas Fairbanks Sr., instilled with a love of dramatics by his Shakespearean-scholar father, was never fully satisfied with theatrical work. A born athlete and extrovert, Fairbanks felt the borders of the stage were much too confining, even when his theatrical work allowed him to tour the world. The wide-open spaces of the motion picture industry were more his style, and in 1915 Fairbanks jumped at the chance to act in the film version of the old stage perennial The Lamb. Fairbanks became the top moneymaker for the Triangle Film Company, starring in an average of 10 pictures a year for a weekly salary of $2000. He specialized in comedies--not the slapstick variety, but free-wheeling farces in which he usually played a wealthy young man thirsting for adventure. Fairbanks was a savvy businessman, and in 1919 he reasoned that he could have more control--and a larger slice of the profits -- if he produced as well as starred in his pictures. Working in concert with his actress-wife Mary Pickford (a star in her own right, billed as "America's Sweetheart"), his best friend Charlie Chaplin, and pioneer director D. W. Griffith, Fairbanks formed a new film company, United Artists. The notion of actors making their own movies led one film executive to wail, "The lunatics have taken over the asylum!", but Fairbanks' studio was a sound investment, and soon other actors were dabbling in the production end of the business. Still most successful in contemporary comedies in 1920, Fairbanks decided to try a momentary change of pace, starring in the swashbuckling The Mark of Zorro (1920). The public was enthralled, and for the balance of his silent career Fairbanks specialized in lavish costume epics with plenty of fast-moving stunt work and derring-do. While several of these films still hold their fascination today, notably The Thief of Baghdad (1924) and The Black Pirate (1926), some historians argue that Fairbanks' formerly breezy approach to moviemaking became ponderous, weighed down in too much spectacle for the Fairbanks personality to fully shine. When talkies came, Fairbanks wasn't intimidated, since he was stage-trained and had a robust speaking voice; unfortunately, his first talking picture, 1929's Taming of the Shrew (in which he co-starred with Mary Pickford), was an expensive failure. Fairbanks' talking pictures failed to click at the box office; even the best of them, such as Mr. Robinson Crusoe (1932), seemed outdated rehashes of his earlier silent successes. Fairbanks' last film, the British-made Private Life of Don Juan (1934), unflatteringly revealed his advanced years and his flagging energy. Marital difficulties, unwise investments and health problems curtailed his previously flamboyant lifestyle considerably, though he managed to stave off several takeover bids for United Artists and retained the respect of his contemporaries. Fairbanks died in his sleep, not long after he'd announced plans to come out of retirement. He was survived by his actor son Douglas Fairbanks Jr., who'd inherited much of his dad's professional panache and who after his father's death began a successful career in film swashbucklers on his own.

Highest Rated Movies








88% Mary Pickford: The Muse of the Movies Actor 2008
No Score Yet Why Be Good? Sexuality and Censorship in Early Cinema Actor 2008
No Score Yet The Forgotten Films of Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle Actor 2005
No Score Yet Unknown Chaplin Actor 1983
No Score Yet 30 Years of Fun Actor 1963
No Score Yet Wild and Woolly Jeff Hillington Producer 1937
No Score Yet The Private Life of Don Juan Don Juan 1934
No Score Yet Mr. Robinson Crusoe Screenwriter Producer Steve Drexel Steve Drewel 1932
No Score Yet Mister Robinson Crusoe Actor Producer 1932
No Score Yet Bing Crosby - Road To Hollywood and Reaching For The Moon Actor 1931
No Score Yet Reaching for the Moon (1930) Producer Larry Day 1930
No Score Yet The Taming of the Shrew Petruchio 1929
100% The Iron Mask Screenwriter D'Artagnan Producer 1929
100% Show People Himself 1928
No Score Yet The Gaucho Screenwriter Producer The Gaucho 1927
No Score Yet Potseluy Meri Pikford (The Kiss of Mary Pickford) Actor 1927
100% The Black Pirate Producer The Duke of Arnoldo / The Black Pirate Screenwriter 1926
No Score Yet Don Q Son of Zorro Producer Don Cesar de Vega/Zorro 1925
96% The Thief of Bagdad The Thief of Bagdad Screenwriter Producer 1924
100% Robin Hood Screenwriter Producer 1922
No Score Yet The Nut Charlie Jackson Producer Screenwriter 1921
100% The Three Musketeers Producer D'Artagnan Screenwriter 1921
88% The Mark of Zorro Screenwriter Don Diego/Zorro Producer 1920
No Score Yet The Mollycoddle Richard Marshall Producer 1920
No Score Yet When the Clouds Roll By Daniel Boon Brown 1920
No Score Yet His Majesty the American William Brooks Screenwriter 1919
No Score Yet Modern Musketeer Actor 1918
No Score Yet A Modern Musketeer Ned Thacker Producer 1917
No Score Yet The Man from Painted Post Screenwriter Fancy Jim Sherwood 1917
No Score Yet Down to Earth Producer Billy Gayner 1917
No Score Yet Reaching for the Moon Alexis Caesar Napoleon Brown 1917
No Score Yet The Americano The Americano 1917
No Score Yet Flirting With Fate Augy Holliday 1916
No Score Yet Sherlock Holmes: The Archive Collection Actor 1916
No Score Yet His Picture in the Papers Pete Prindle 1916
No Score Yet The Matrimaniac Jimmy Conroy 1916
No Score Yet Reggie Mixes In Reggie Morton 1916
No Score Yet Douglas Fairbanks: A Modern Musketeer Actor 1916
No Score Yet The Half-Breed Actor 1916
No Score Yet Manhattan Madness Steve O'Dare 1916
No Score Yet An American Aristocracy Cassius Lee 1916
No Score Yet The Martyrs of the Alamo Actor 1915
No Score Yet The Lamb Gerald 1915


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