Famous Family History Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. Parents Part 2

About the family of actor Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., biography and history of mother and father.


DOUGLAS FAIRBANKS, SR. (1883-1939), U.S. actor

Charle's mining investments went sour, and at the age of 55 he became a campaign speaker for Benjamin Harrison during his presidential bid of 1888. He left for New York and never returned to the family. Several years later Ella divorced him on grounds of desertion and took the name Fairbanks again.

When Douglas was 12, he ran into his father on the streets of Denver. They visited in a bar where Charles had several drinks, and then Douglas talked his father into coming home to see his ex-wife. After Charles left the house, Ella, enraged at her ex-husband's drunken condition, took Douglas downtown and had him sign the W.C.T.U.'s Temperance Pledge, which he kept until the last years of his life. [In The Book of Lists #1, we ran Upton Sinclair's list of 15 famous heavy drinkers, which included Douglas Fairbanks. Sinclair, however, was apparently mistaken, for a letter of protest from Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., told us quite the opposite. We have confirmed that the senior Fairbanks was a teetotaler and that he was very dry, indeed.]

Charles was a Shakespearean scholar and had a great love of the theater. He was a friend of Edwin Booth, to whom he bore an uncanny resemblance, and he would often recite long passages from Shakespeare for the benefit of his son Douglas. When he realized that Douglas had inherited some of his own love of the theater, as well as his theatrical temperament, Charles enrolled his son in a local drama school, and there Douglas soon made his stage debut in a production of Living Pictures. From his father Douglas also inherited his wanderlust. His mother, who further nurtured Douglas's interest in the theater, was described as selfish, overprotective, and indulgent of her son.

Charles Ulman died the same year Douglas went to Hollywood to make his first film, and his mother died a year later of pneumonia.

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