Back to :- Hollywood Forever - Celebrity Graves.
Final Resting Place of Douglas Fairbanks
and his son Douglas Fairbanks Jr.
Douglas Fairbanks 23rd.May 1883 -
12th.December 1939. Cause of Death - Heart Attack.
Douglas Fairbanks Jr. 9th.December 1909 - 7th.May 2000.
Large pond & monument next to the Cathedral Mausoleum.
Douglas Fairbanks was an American actor, screenwriter, director and producer, who became noted for his swashbuckling roles in silent movies such as The Mark of Zorro (1920), The Three Musketeers (1921), Robin Hood (1922), The Thief of Bagdad (1924) and The Black Pirate (1926).
He was born Julius Ullman in Denver, Colorado, the son of Hezekiah Charles Ullman (born September 1833) and Ella Adelaide Marsh (born 1850). His half-brother was John Fairbanks (born 1873); and his full brother was Robert Payne Ullman (March 13, 1882-February 22, 1948).
Fairbanks's father, who was born in Pennsylvania to a Jewish family, was a prominent New York attorney. His mother (a Roman Catholic) was born in New York, and was previously married to a man named John Fairbanks, who left her a widow. She then married a man named Wilcox, who turned out to be abusive. Her divorce was handled by Ullman, who she later married.
In about 1881, Charles Ullman purchased several mining interests in the Rocky Mountains and relocated the family to Denver, where he re-established his law practice. Ullman abandoned the family when Douglas was five years old, and he and Robert were raised by their mother.
Douglas Fairbanks began acting on the Denver stage at an early age, doing amateur theatre. He was in summer stock at the Elitch Gardens Theatre, becoming a sensation in his teens. He attended East Denver High School, and was once expelled for dressing up the campus statues on St. Patrick's Day. He left during his senior year. He said he attended Colorado School of Mines, then Harvard University for a term. No record of attendance has been located, but an article about whether or not he attended Mines recounts a professor once saying Fairbanks was asked to leave because of a prank not long after he began.
He moved to New York in the early 1900s to pursue an acting career, joining the acting troupe of British actor Frederick Warde who had discovered Fairbanks performing in Denver. He worked in a hardware store and as a clerk in a Wall Street office before his Broadway debut in 1902. On July 11, 1907 in Watch Hill, Rhode Island, he married Anna Beth Sully, the daughter of wealthy industrialist, Daniel J. Sully. They had one son, Douglas Elton Fairbanks (actor Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., who was born on December 9, 1909 and who died on May 7, 2000). The family moved to Hollywood in 1915.
Fairbanks signed a contract with Triangle Pictures and began working under the supervision of D.W. Griffith. His athletic abilities were not appreciated by Griffith, however, and he was brought to the attention of Anita Loos and John Emerson, who wrote and directed many of his early romantic comedies. He met actress and businesswoman Mary Pickford at a party in 1916 and they began having an affair. In 1917, they, along with Charlie Chaplin, traveled across the U.S. by train selling war bonds. Pickford and Chaplin were then the two highest paid movie stars in Hollywood. Fairbanks set up his own production company, the Douglas Fairbanks Film Corporation. Within eighteen months of his arrival, Fairbanks' popularity and business acumen raised him up to be the third highest paid. To curtail these stars' astronomical salaries, the large studios attempted to monopolize the distributors and exhibitors.
On December 1, 1918 in New Rochelle, New York, Sully won an interlocutory decree of divorce from Fairbanks, as well as custody of their son. The record of testimony referred to the co-respondent as "an unknown woman." The decree was made final March 5, 1919.
To avoid being controlled by the studios and to protect their independence, Fairbanks, Pickford, Chaplin, and D. W. Griffith formed United Artists in 1919, which created their own distributorships and gave them complete artistic control over their movies and the profits generated. The company was kept solvent in the years immediately after its formation largely from the success of Fairbanks' films.
Fairbanks was determined to have Pickford become his wife, but she was still married to actor Owen Moore. They were both concerned about bad publicity and the effect it could have on the movie going public, who might boycott their efforts at the theater should they marry each other. He finally gave her an ultimatum. She then obtained a fast divorce in the small Nevada town of Minden on March 2, 1920. Fairbanks leased the Beverly Hills mansion Grayhall and was rumoured to have used it during his courtship of Pickford. (Grayhall was subsequently owned by, among others, the financier Bernard Cornfeld.)
The couple were married March 28, 1920, by the pastor of Temple Baptist Church, at his residence on West Fourth Street in Los Angeles. Pickford's divorce from Moore was contested by Nevada legislators, however, and the dispute was not settled until 1922. Even though the lawmakers objected to the marriage, the public went wild over the idea of "Everybody's Hero" marrying "America's Sweetheart." The couple was greeted by crowds of up to 300,000 people in London and Paris during their European honeymoon, becoming Hollywood's first celebrity marriage.
During the years they were married, Fairbanks and Pickford were regarded as "Hollywood Royalty," and they were famous for entertaining at their Beverly Hills estate, Pickfair.
By 1920, Fairbanks had completed twenty-nine two-reel comedies, which showcased his ebullient screen persona and athletic ability. By 1920, he had the inspiration of staging a new type of adventure-costume picture, a genre that was then out of favor with the public. In the The Mark of Zorro, Fairbanks combined his appealing screen persona with the new adventurous, costume element. It was a smash success and parlayed the actor into the rank of superstar. For the remainder of his career in silent films, he continued to produce and star in ever more elaborate, impressive costume movies. Fairbanks spared no expense and effort in these films, which established the standard for all future swashbuckling films.
In 1921, he, Pickford, Chaplin, and others, helped to organize the Motion Picture Fund to assist those in the industry who could not work, or were unable to meet their bills.
During the first ceremony of its type, he and Pickford placed their hand and foot prints in wet cement at the newly opened Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood on April 30, 1927. Fairbanks was elected first President of the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences that same year, and he hosted the first Academy Awards presentation (then held as a banquet, rather than today's big ceremony) in the Roosevelt Hotel on Hollywood Boulavard.
His last silent film was The Iron Mask (1929). Although Fairbanks flourished in the silent film genre, the restrictions of early sound films dulled his enthusiasm for movie-making. Also, his althletic abilities and general health began to decline at this time, in part due to years of heavy chain-smoking. He and Pickford then made their first talkie, playing Petruchio and Kate in Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew (1929). This film, and his subsequent sound films, were poorly received by the public. The last movie he acted in was the British production The Private Life of Don Juan (1934), after which he retired from the movie industry.
There is a witty reference to him in the David Lean film 'A Passage to India' (set in Edwardian India) in which one of the characters performs acrobatic feats on the side of a train calling, "I am Douglas Fairbanks!"
After he began an affair with Sylvia Ashley, Fairbanks and Pickford separated in 1933. Fairbanks, Sr. and Pickford divorced in 1936, with her keeping Pickfair. On March 7, 1936, in Paris, France, he and Ashley were married. His final years were lived in retirement at 705 Ocean Front (now Palisades Beach Road) in Santa Monica, California, although much of their time together was spent traveling abroad.
At the age of 56, Fairbanks died of a heart attack in his sleep, at his home in Santa Monica. His funeral service was held at the Wee Kirk o' the Heather Church at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, where he was placed in a crypt in the Great Mausoleum. He was subsequently removed from Forest Lawn by his widow, who commissioned an elaborate monument for him, with long rectangular reflecting pool, raised tomb, and classic Greek architecture, at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. The remains of his son were also interred here upon his death in 2000.
Douglas Fairbanks' hand and foot prints are immortalized in the forecourt of Grauman's Chinese Theatre and he has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Douglas Elton Fairbanks, Jr., KBE, DSC (December 9, 1909 – May 7, 2000) was an American actor and a highly decorated naval officer of World War II.
Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. was born in New York City, the son of actor Douglas Fairbanks and his first wife, Anna Beth Sully. His parents divorced when he was ten years old. He lived with his mother in California, Paris, and London.
Largely on the basis of his name, he was given a contract at age fourteen with Paramount Pictures. After making some undistinguished films, he took to the stage, where he impressed his father, his step-mother Mary Pickford, and Charlie Chaplin, who encouraged him to continue with acting.
He was also noticed by Joan Crawford who began to date him. On June 3, 1929, at Saint Malachy's Roman Catholic Church in New York, New York Crawford and Fairbanks were married. He was technically underage, so one year was added to his birth (giving him 1908 as his year of birth), and Crawford shed three years from her age, which would remain shed until long after her death, giving her the same year of birth that Fairbanks had created for himself, 1908. He went on a delayed honeymoon to England, where he was entertained by Noel Coward and George, Duke of Kent. He became active in both society and politics, but Crawford didn't enjoy either of these, and they were divorced in May 1933.
Fairbanks starred in several pre-Code films with Loretta Young, and supported Katharine Hepburn in her Oscar-winning role in the film Morning Glory (1933). With Little Caesar, Outward Bound, Gunga Din and The Dawn Patrol, his movies began to have more commercial success.
On April 22, 1939, he married Mary Lee Hartford (née Mary Lee Epling), a former wife of George Huntington Hartford, the Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company heir: they had three daughters. Mary Lee Fairbanks died of cancer in 1988. Three years later, on May 30, 1991, he married Vera Shelton at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City.
World War II
In 1941, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt appointed him a special envoy to South America. Although celebrated as an actor, Fairbanks most enduring legacy was a well-kept secret for decades. At the onset of World War II, Fairbanks was commissioned a Reserve Officer in the U.S. Navy and assigned to Lord Mountbatten's Commando staff in England. Having witnessed (and participated in) British training and cross-channel harassment operations emphasizing the military art of deception, Fairbanks attained a depth of understanding and appreciation of military deception then unheard of in the United States Navy. Lieutenant Fairbanks was subsequently transferred to Virginia Beach where he came under the command of Admiral H. Kent Hewitt, who was preparing U.S. Naval forces for the invasion of North Africa. Fairbanks was able to convince Hewitt of the advantages of such a unit, and Admiral Hewitt soon took Fairbanks to Washington, D.C. to sell the idea to the Chief of Naval Operations, ADM Ernest King. Fairbanks succeeded and ADM King issued a secret letter on 5 March 1943 charging the Vice Chief of Naval Operations with the recruitment of 180 officers and 300 enlisted men for the Beach Jumper program. The Beach Jumpers mission would simulate amphibious landings with a very limited force. Operating dozens of kilometers from the actual landing beaches and utilizing their deception equipment, the Beach Jumpers would lure the enemy into believing that theirs was the location of the amphibious beach landing, when in fact the actual amphibious landing would be conducted at another location. Even if the enemy was less than 100-percent convinced of the deception, the uncertainty created by the operations could conceivably delay enemy reinforcement of the actual landing area by several crucial hours. U.S. Navy Beach Jumpers saw their initial action in Operation Husky, the invasion of Sicily. Throughout the remainder of the war, the Beach Jumpers conducted their hazardous, shallow-water operations throughout the Mediterranean. For his planning the diversion-deception operations and his part in the amphibious assault on Southern France, Lieutenant Commander Fairbanks was awarded the U.S. Navy's Legion of Merit with bronze V (for valor), the Italian War Cross for Military Valor, the French Legion d'Honneur and the Croix de Guerre with Palm, and the British Distinguished Service Cross. He was also made an Honorary Knight Commander of the British Empire (KBE) in 1949.
It is not a stretch to say that Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. was the father of the United States Navy's Information Operations. As for the Beach Jumpers, they changed names several times in the decades following World War II, expanded their focus, and are currently known as the Navy Information Operations Command.
Fairbanks, Jr. returned to Hollywood at the conclusion of World War II and enjoyed success as host of the Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. Theater in the early years of television. Fairbanks was a definite Anglophile and spent a good deal of his time in Britain, where he was well known in the highest social circles. The College of Arms in London granted Fairbanks a coat of arms that symbolizes the U.S. and Britain united across the blue Atlantic Ocean by a silken knot of friendship.
He died of a heart attack in New York at the age of 90. He is interred in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood, California, in the same crypt as his father.
Fairbanks has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, one for motion pictures and one for television.