name: Douglas Fairbanks Jr.
birth place: New York City, New York, USA
birth date: 9 December 1909
zodiac sign: Sagittarius
death place: New York City, New York, USA
death date: 7 May 2000
languages: English, French
Profile of Douglas Fairbanks Jr.
Douglas Elton Fairbanks Jr., KBE, DSC (December 9, 1909 – May 7, 2000), was an American actor and producer, and a decorated naval officer of World War II. He is best known for starring in such films as The Prisoner of Zenda (1937), Gunga Din (1939) and The Corsican Brothers (1941). He was the son of actor Douglas Fairbanks and was once married to Joan Crawford.
I am not a socialite, although I seem to have got the reputation for being one. I have some very good friends who happen to be in the so-called Society; but Society as such is a bore and holds no fascination for me.¨`
Life of Douglas Fairbanks Jr.
Douglas Elton Fairbanks Jr. was born in New York City; he was the only child of actor Douglas Fairbanks and his first wife, Anna Beth Sully. Fairbanks's father was one of cinema's first icons, noted for such swashbuckling adventure films as The Mark of Zorro, Robin Hood and The Thief of Bagdad.
His parents divorced when he was nine years old, and he lived with his mother in New York, California, Paris and London.
Largely on the basis of his father's name, in May 1923 Fairbanks Jr. was given a contract with Paramount Pictures at age 13, at $1,000 a week for three years.
Paramount and he parted ways by mutual consent and Doug went to Paris to resume his studies. A year later he returned to the studio, hired at what Fairbanks called "starvation wages" also having him work as a camera assistant.
In 1927 Fairbanks made his stage debut in Young Woodley based on a book by John Van Druten. Fairbanks Jr received excellent reviews and the production was a success - the play did much to improve his reputation in Hollywood. A regular audience member was Joan Crawford with whom Fairbanks would become romantically involved and then married on June 3, 1929 at St. Malachy in New York City.
They travelled to Britain on a delayed honeymoon, where he was entertained by Noël Coward, Gertrude Lawrence, Beatrice Lillie, and Prince George, Duke of Kent. He became active in both society and politics, but Crawford was far more interested in her career and had an affair with Clark Gable. The couple divorced in 1933, but the divorce would not become final for another year.
In 1930, Fairbanks Jr. went to Warner Bros. to test for the second lead in Moby Dick (1930). Although he did not win the part, head of production Darryl F. Zanuck was impressed with Douglas's screen test, and cast him in an important role in The Dawn Patrol directed by Howard Hawks.
Fairbanks had an excellent role supporting Edward G. Robinson in Little Caesar (1931), filmed in August 1930. The movie was a big hit, and Warner Bros. offered Fairbanks Jr. a contract with cast and script approval.
"By sheer accident, I had four successes in a row in the early '30s, and although I was still in my 20s, I demanded and received approval of cast, story and director. I don't know how I got away with it, but I did!"
"The original script for Morning Glory, included the fantasy dream sequence in which Miss Hepburn and I would play at least two scenes, and possibly a third, of the greatest scenes between Romeo and Juliet. That certainly intrigued and tempted me. It seemed a unique opportunity for me to play Romeo, a dream part.
In 1934, Warner asked all its stars to take a 50 percent pay cut because of the Depression. Fairbanks Jr. refused and was fired from the studio. He received a job offer from Britain and spent the next few years there, taking a residence in London's Park Lane.
Fairbanks set up his own film production company, Criterion Films, where the board members included Paul Czinner.Among Criterion's films were Man of the Moment (1935), The Amateur Gentleman (1936), Accused (1936), and Jump for Glory (1937).
Fairbanks Jr. returned to Hollywood when David O. Selznick offered him the role of Rupert of Hentzau in The Prisoner of Zenda (1937). He had been reluctant to accept the role but his father urged him to do it, saying it was "actor proof".The movie was a big success.
In December 1937 he signed a non-exclusive contract with RKO to make two films a year for five years, at $75,000 a film.
Fairbanks had his biggest-ever hit with RKO's Gunga Din (1939), alongside Cary Grant and Victor McLaglen.
On April 22, 1939, Fairbanks married Mary Lee Hartford (née Mary Lee Epling), a former wife of Huntington Hartford, the A&P supermarket heir. He remained devoted to her until her death in 1988.
Although celebrated as an actor, Fairbanks was commissioned as a reserve officer in the United States Navy when the United States entered World War II and was assigned to Lord Mountbatten's Commando staff in the United Kingdom.
Fairbanks returned to Hollywood at the conclusion of World War II. But the few movies he made during the next two years were not very successful.
As a confirmed Anglophile, Fairbanks spent much time in the United Kingdom, where he was well known in the highest social circles. He was made an Honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) in 1949 and moved there in the early 1950s.
On May 30, 1991, Fairbanks married Vera Lee Shelton, a merchandiser for QVC Network Inc.
On the morning of May 7, 2000, Fairbanks died at the age of 90 of a heart attack and was interred at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood, California, in the same tomb as his father.
Style of Douglas Fairbanks Jr.
“The most important thing is that the suit be well cut. Then it needn’t be particularly new or even particularly well pressed. It will always hang properly. I make my suits last for years. The other day, I took one that’s, oh, eight years old, in to be altered – have the lapels narrowed and the trousers taken in. I go to Stovel & Mason in Old Burlington Street where I’ve trained the cutter to what I like, and he never commits the classic fault of London tailors – leaving too much fullness in the seat of the trousers.
For sports things, I go to Huntsman in Savile Row, but in any case I’m rather conservative about suits. Being an actor, I plan my clothes rather more. No one in public life can afford to overstep. One has a responsibility, and before I get anything new, I brood about it, try it out on my wife and daughters, and perhaps on someone in the Club. Once the suit is settled, then the only thing is shoes and linen. I usually wear proper shoes except when I’m traveling, then I wear these things [well-polished tan loafers] because they’re so comfortable on planes. Otherwise, I go to Maxwell’s in Dover Street, and I always have shoes with elastic sides. I’ve been having them made since shortly after the war, and I don’t even own any lace-ups any longer.
I suppose I spend more on shirts than on anything else, and I’m not so conservative about them. Mainly they’re from Turnbull & Asser. Beyond Turnbull I go, oh, all over. I might buy something at Sulka here, in Paris at Charvet. I would rather buy in London than any place, though, because London is to men what Paris is to women. It’s a town that’s set up for it. You find a variety. In Rome or Paris or New York there are two or three top tailors or shirtmakers; in London there are fifty-two all over the joint. I never buy ties because I have so many. The other day a man came up to me and said, ‘You’re really right up to the minute, wearing a wide tie.’ I said, ‘No, I’ve had this one since 1932.’
When it comes to combinations of patters and colors, my wife tells me that I run to reds and blues, but I assure you that it’s not conscious. I do like blues, and yellows, but not beige or tan. Combining the patters and colors is simply a question of getting a contrast. With a striped suit I wouldn’t wear a striped shirt. With a striped shirt I would wear a plain woven tie in a much deeper or brighter color. The thing to keep in mind really is that the shirt, tie, and suit can’t look all the same in color or scale of pattern, and, of course, not to be self-conscious about combination. The one thing that I am especially conscious of is combining ties and pocket handkerchiefs. I avoid matching them at all costs. The pocket handkerchief should be colored and patterned, but not matching the tie. Better to have it related, or even entirely unrelated, so long as they don’t look wrong together.”