Douglas Fairbanks was born on May 23 rd 1883 in Denver, and was the son of a wealthy New York attorney. He developed an interest in acting at the age of eleven, and by his teens – thanks to his amateur acting and enthusiasm – he enjoyed great success in the local theatres.
In 1900 Fairbanks headed for New York, hoping for a slice of the bright lights of Broadway. Taking various odd jobs to keep the cash flowing, he finally got his Broadway break in 1902 in ‘The Duke’s Jester’. Five years later Douglas married the daughter of a wealthy industrialist, and was advised by his new father-in-law, Daniel Sully, that he should work for him, as acting was going to get him nowhere. He only lasted six months before heading back to Broadway.
Although the next few years were a financial struggle for Fairbanks, he was then offered a $104,000 contract with the Triangle Film Corporation. He moved to Hollywood in 1915, at the age of 31, and with his friends Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, became a big hit on the silent screen. He starred in a range of movies, such as ‘The Matrimaniac’ and ‘The Mystery of the Leaping Fish’.From there, Fairbanks went into movie production, going on to form the United Artists Corporation with D.W. Griffith, Mary Pickford and Charlie Chaplin. The corporation churned out many of the movies we regard as real classics such as ‘The Mark of Zorro’, ‘The Three Musketeers’, and ‘Robin Hood’. Having divorced his wife, Fairbanks also went on to marry Mary Pickford in 1920. He passed away on December 12 th 1939, aged 56, from a heart attack.
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