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About Douglas Elton Fairbanks, Jr.
The rakishly handsome actor, producer, author and businessman Douglas Fairbanks Jr. was a real-life war hero and friend of royalty. He was the son of the ‘Prince of Pickfair’, actor Douglas Fairbanks Sr. and Mary Pickford.
Fairbanks Jr. made his acting debut in 1923, with ‘Stephen Steps Out’, which was not a resounding success.
After the 1927 stage play ‘Young Woodley’, he was taken more seriously, and the made the successful crossover, following the advent of ‘talkies’.
He fared better in ‘Stella Dallas’ in 1936, in which he first donned the classic ‘Fairbanks’ moustache.
A talented writer, Fairbanks wrote humorous pieces for Vanity Fair about the Hollywood scene. Married to Joan Crawford and at the heart of Tinseltown, he set up his own production company, Criterion Films, in 1935.
‘The Prisoner of Zenda’ (1937) gave Fairbanks his best role, as the cold-blooded villain, Rupert of Hentzau.
With his father’s death in 1939, Fairbanks began to move into public life, organizing the Hollywood pro-Allied Forces William Allen White Committee during the Second World War.
Spending 1939-1940 in London hospitals, he took special care of war refugees, and was appointed by Roosevelt to act as envoy for a Special Mission to South America in 1940.
Commissioned as a lieutenant in the Navy in 1941, he was a chief officer in Special Operations, participating in the allied invasion of Elba and Sicily. Working his way up, he rose to the level of Captain in 1945.
As chairman of the charity CARE, he organized food aid for war-torn countries.
However, he returned to acting with ‘Sinbad The Sailor’, and wrote 1948’s ‘The Exile’ – both the kind of movies his father, Fairbanks Sr., would have loved.
Concentrating on production, Fairbanks made and presented the TV anthology ‘Douglas Fairbanks Jr. Presents’ through the early 1950s.
After a poorly received Henry Higgins in a 1968 ‘My Fair Lady’, he returned to international life as part of a US delegation to SEATO (Southeast Asia Treaty Organisation) in 1971.
He released his autobiographies, ‘Salad Days’, and ‘A Hell of A War’, in 1988 and 1993 respectively. He died in 2000.