Douglas Fairbanks

Douglas Elton Thomas Ullman
Born: 23 May 1883, Denver CO.
Died: 12 December 1939.
Buried: Hollywood, CA


Douglas Fairbanks came from a dysfunctional family: his father, a drunk with the last name Ulman, abandoned his family when Douglas was aged 5, and he was raised by his mother, who changed his last name to Fairbanks – the name of her own ex-husband!

By his late teens, Douglas was an in-demand actor on the Denver stage, and in 1900 the family moved to New York, where Douglas began to appear in small roles on Broadway.

Douglas’ career took many years to take off, but he was finally offered a $104,000 contract by the Triangle Film Corporation in 1914. In preparation for this new direction, Douglas and his family moved to Hollywood in 1915.

Initially mentored by D.W. Griffith (who had his own production company, the Fine Arts Film Company, under the Triangle umbrella), Douglas quickly found success as a very athletic comedic actor, churning out 28 films from 1915-1919. It was in this latter year that Douglas, together with his mistress Mary Pickford, Charlie Chaplin and Griffith, formed United Artists. The first film produced by the new company was Fairbanks’ own His Majesty, the American.

The next year, 1920, Fairbanks divorced his wife of 22 years (he had married Anna Beth Sully in 1907), and married Mary Pickford. It was also in this year that Fairbanks’ career took a hard turn, when he made The Mark of Zorro, and from this point forward, Fairbanks was an action and adventure hero, rather than a comedian. It was over the remainder of the silent era that Fairbanks made his most famous movies, including Robin Hood (1922), The Thief of Bagdad (1924), and The Black Pirate (1926).

The aging Douglas Fairbanks retired from movies in 1933, divorced Mary the same year, and died in 1939 of a heart attack.

(Information in this post was adapted primarily from article by Tammy Stone, Douglas Fairbanks Sr.)

Silent Filmography of Douglas Fairbanks

Key to Studio names:

Fine Arts = the Fine Arts Film Company. This was D.W. Griffith’s own production studio, which made films under the Triangle Film Corporation banner. The Triangle logo appears at the beginning of most of Fairbanks’ films which were produced and released in 1915-1916.
DF Pictures = Douglas Fairbanks Pictures. Fairbanks formed this production company in 1917.
Elton = Elton Corporation.

 TitleDate Released
StudioDirectorShort or
Lamb, The1915/11/07Fine ArtsChristy CabanneFSeena Owenn/a
Double Trouble1915/12/05Fine ArtsChristy CabanneFMargery WilsonLinkFilm could use some restoration.
His Picture in the Papers1916/02/13Fine ArtsJohn EmersonFLinkNo music.
Habit of Happiness, The1916/03/12Fine ArtsAllan DwanSGeorge FawcettLinkNo music. Film appears in LOC list of silent features as 5-reeler.
Good Bad-Man, The1916/04/21Fine ArtsAllan DwanFBessie LoveLink
Reggie Mixes In1916/06/11Fine ArtsChristy CabanneFBessie LoveLinkNo music; film quality not great.
Mystery of the Leaping Fish, The1916/06/11TriangleJohn EmersonSBessie LoveLink I
Link II
Link I: traditional score, but with ads.
Link II: untraditional score, but no ads.
Flirting with Fate1916/07/09Fine ArtsChristy CabanneFJewel CarmenLink
Half-Breed, The1916/07/30Fine ArtsAllan DwanFAlma Rubensn/a
Intolerance1916/09/05TriangleD.W. GriffithFLinkDF with brief cameo appearance only, as "man on white horse".
Manhattan Madness1916/10/01Fine ArtsAllan DwanFJewel CarmenLinkNo music. Film included on LOC list of silent features as a 5-reeler, so video, at 29 minutes, may be abbreviated version.
American Aristocracy1916/11/12Fine ArtsLloyd IngrahamFJewel CarmenLink I
Link II
Link I: with soundtrack, but lots of ads.
Link II: no music, but no ads.
Matrimaniac, The1916/12/16Fine ArtsPaul PowellFConstance TalmadgeLink
Americano, The1916/12/24Fine ArtsJohn EmersonFAlma Rubensn/a
In Again, Out Again1917/04/30DF PicturesJohn EmersonFArline Prettyn/a
Wild and Woolly1917/06/24DF PicturesJohn EmersonFEileen PercyLinkNo music.
Down to Earth1917/08/16DF PicturesJohn EmersonFEileen PercyLinkWith optional Spanish CC.
Man From Painted Post, The1917/09/30DF PicturesJoseph HenaberyFEileen PercyLinkNo music; film is ready for restoration.
All-Star Production of Patriotic Episodes for the Second Liberty Loan1917/10NAMPI?FWilliam S. HartLink
Reaching for the Moon1917/11/17DF PicturesJohn EmersonFEileen PercyLink I
Link II
Link I: with music, but aspect is incorrect (stretched too wide).
Link II: correct aspect, but no music.
Modern Musketeer, A1917/12/30DF PicturesAllan DwanFMarjorie DawLink
Headin' South1918/02/25DF PicturesAllan Dwan,
Arthur Rosson
FKatherine MacDonaldLOST
Mr. Fix-It1918/04/15DF PicturesAllan DwanFMarjorie Dawn/a
Say! Young Fellow1918/06/16DF PicturesJoseph HenaberyFMarjorie Dawn/a
Bound in Morocco1918/07/28DF PicturesAllan DwanFPauline CurleyLOST
Sic 'Em, Sam1918/09/14ParamountAlbert ParkerSSara Masonn/aFundraiser for Liberty Bonds.
He Comes Up Smiling1918/09/15DF PicturesAllan DwanFMarjorie DawLinkOnly surviving footage of film (about 11 minutes).
Arizona1918/12/08DF PicturesDouglas Fairbanks,
Albert Parker
FTheodore RobertsLOST
Swat the Kaiser1918?Joseph HenaberySGustav von Seyffertitzn/a
Knickerbocker Buckaroo, The1919/05/25DF PicturesAlbert ParkerFMarjorie DawLOST
His Majesty, the American1919/09/01DF PicturesJoseph HenaberyFMarjorie DawLink
When the Clouds Roll By1919/12/28DF PicturesVictor FlemingFKathleen CliffordLinkWith optional Russian CC.
Mollycoddle, The1920/06/13DF PicturesVictor FlemingFRuth Renick,
Wallace Beery
Link I
Link II
Link I: with untraditional music, with ads.
Link II: no music, but no ads.
Mark of Zorro, The1920/12/05DF PicturesFred NibloFMarguerite De La MotteLink I
Link II
Link I: piano accompaniment, no ads.
Link II: small ensemble accompaniment but with lots of ads.
Nut, The1921/03/06DF PicturesTheodore ReedFMarguerite De La MotteLinkProbably could use a score more appropriate for an action-comedy.
Three Musketeers, The1921/08/28DF PicturesFred NibloFAdolphe Menjou,
Eugene Pallette
Robin Hood1922/10/18DF PicturesAllan DwanFWallace Beery,
Sam De Grasse,
Enid Bennett
Hollywood1923/08/19ParamountJames CruzeFLOSTDF in brief cameo appearance only.
Thief of Bagdad, The1924/04/11DF PicturesRaoul WalshFJulanne JohnstonLink
Don Q Son of Zorro1925/06/15EltonDonald CrispFMary Astor,
Donald Crisp
Ben Hur: A Tale of Christ1925/10/08MGMFred Niblo,
Charles Brabin,
Christy Cabanne
FLinkLink is to
Black Pirate, The1926/03/08EltonAlbert ParkerFBillie DoveLinkOne of the earliest features filmed entirely in technicolor.
Gaucho, The1928/01/23EltonF. Richard JonesFLupe Velezn/a
Show People1928/10/20MGMKing VidorFn/aDF in brief cameo appearance only.
Iron Mask, The1929/02/21EltonAllan DwanFMarguerite De La MotteLink I
Link II
Link I: classical accompaniment.
Link II: traditional organ accompaniment.