Monday, April 27, 2009

The Underdog Series Part 8

  • One of the most charming men of Hollywood was none other than Douglas Fairbanks Jr. He was often described as the perfect gentleman and his ex-girlfriends would agree with that as well. Though his father was the very famous and talented silent screen star, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr was able to establish his career in Hollywood. Not only is he one of my favorite actors but he's just so charming in all of his movies. I know that I use the word quite a bit but if you are looking for charming, just look under Douglas Fairbanks Jr.



  • Douglas Elton Fairbanks Jr was born on December 9th 1909 to parents Douglas and Beth Sully Fairbanks in New York City, New York. He was the only child of the couple and when he was just a child, the couple divorced. His mother was often described as overbearing while his father though known around the world, was a bit distant towards his only child. In 1920, a year after his divorce from Jr's Mother, Douglas Sr remarried famed silent screen actress, Mary Pickford. Jr. got on cordially with his new step-mother.


  • As the 1920's were in full swing, Jr began his career in movies. His career started off with smaller roles but as he got older, the roles became better suited for him. In the 1920's Douglas met his future wife Joan Crawford. At first neither were interested in one another but as time went on, they began a romance with one another and in 1929 the couple married. The marriage would last just 4 years. In his autobiography, Douglas said that Joan was often too focused on the way she looked, more than anything else. Joan Crawford was a woman, who was often worried about her appearance and would make sure she would look fine all the time. Also included in the autobiography, Jr says he felt that Joan was jealous of his step-mother Mary Pickford and would often try to be up one on her. Though it does appear, Jr criticizes Joan in his book, what he actually does is show us that everyone has flaws and that one of her flaws was she was worry wart when it came to her appearance.


  • The 1930's was the best time for Douglas, not only was his Hollywood career on fire but he also had found many loves during that time such as Marlene Dietrich and famed Broadway actress Gertrude Lawrence. Though he fell in and out of love during the 1930's, one love really stuck with- his future wife Mary Lee. The couple would remain together until her untimely death in the late 1980's. Mary Lee was Douglas' love of his life and the same for her.


  • Some of his best movies during the 1930's included "Gunga Din", "Having Wonderful Time", and "The Young in Heart".

  • While reading his autobiography, I hardly ever read him say anything bad about anyone. He really was a gentleman through and through.
  • Throughout the 1930's and 1940's, Doug continued his work in movies but his attention went more towards political reasons and he was often absent from the screen to fulfill his obligation to the President of the United States- FDR.

  • Two days after his 30th birthday, his father passed away at the age of 56.


  • One of his close Hollywood friends' was British actor Sir Laurence Olivier. Featured in the bio, was the guy's first encounter with cocaine. Poor Laurence Olivier got so sick from it that he was ill for a bit and the duo never tried the addictive drug again.
  • It seemed Douglas' career was on a standstill but in the 1980's, he got a opportunity that he had to go for. Though known today for not being that great of a film, "Ghost Story" featured Douglas with Fred Astaire, Melvyn Douglas(who would pass away a year after making this) and Patricia Neal. An all star cast of actors at a time where older actors were often cast as the grumpy neighbor or grandpa but all the actors were able to show that they all were enjoying the attention, that they once possessed in their earlier years.


  • In 1988, the same year his first autobiography came out, his beloved and cherished wife Mary Lee passed away. After the death of his wife, Doug remarried for one last time, Vera Shelton in 1991 to 2000 when he passed away.


  • Though I didn't mention it at all, Doug and Mary did have children. They had three daughters named Daphne, Victoria, and Melissa.


  • Also during the 1980's, Christina Crawford came out with her scathing accounts on her adoptive mother, Joan Crawford entitled "Mommie Dearest", which was made into a movie starring Faye Dunaway. Doug said that Joan had never acted like that when he knew her.


  • At the age of 90, Doug died of a heart attack in his New York home. He is now buried in the same crypt at his famous father.


  • Best Films-

"The Young in Heart"
"Gunga Din"
"Little Caesar"
"Having Wonderful Time"
"The Prisoner of Zenda"



I'm sorry that I took such a long time in writing this up but everytime I wanted to, I was sidetrack by something else. So now I have it up and within a week or so, I post the next candidate for the Underdog Series. :)


















5 comments:

Hannah said...

Thank you for writing this great post on Douglas Fairbanks Jr. He is my all time favorite actor. Your blog is very informative.

Raquelle said...

Superb Nicole! I have a growing fascination with Douglas Fairbans Jr (with Sr too actually) so this was great to read. What was Jr's relationship like with Sr. I wonder?

Kate Gabrielle said...

Great post! What an underrated actor... I love him in Union Depot.

Casey said...

Yay for Doug Jr! Great job, Nicole! I have got to get his auto bio now, after having a sampling of all the great stories lurking inside. :) I've tried to find photos of Mary Lee to no avail. Did you have any luck? I'd love to see what she looked like.

Nicole said...

Thanks everyone, I greatly appreciate all of the great comments! Well I know that there are some pictures of Doug and Mary on basilrathbone.net and jamd.com but other than that I don't know where to look. If you want I'll scan in the pictures of Doug and Mary from his autobiography.