Douglas Fairbanks, Sr (Douglas Fairbanks)

Douglas Fairbanks, Sr

Legendary Motion Picture Actor. Born Douglas Elton Thomas Ulman in Denver, Colorado on May 23, 1883. His father was a prominent New York attorney who had mining interests in the Rocky Mountains. and relocated to Denver in 1880. His father loved the theatre and and took him and his brother, Robert, to the theatre, sometimes taking them backstage to meet the cast. His first memories as a child were happy ones but soon that would all change. His father was an alcoholic and his drinking increased after he moved out West. He soon abandoned the family and went back to New York. He was only 5 when his father left, but he was devastated. Watching alcohol destroy his father’s life made him abstain from alcohol for most of his life. By the time he was eleven, he took to the stage, doing amateur theatre in the Denver area. By his teens he had become an actor in high demand. For that reason, he dropped out of high school, never finishing his senior year. In 1900, he moved to New York seeking fame on Broadway. He took odd jobs until his debut in 1902 as Florio in The Duke’s Jester. In 1907, he married Anna Beth Sully, and they had a son in 1909, named after Douglas. He struggled to make a living on the stage and he could hardly provide for Beth and their son. In 1914, he signed with the Triangle Film Corporation and arrived in Hollywood in 1915. By the late teens, Doug was such a popular actor that he was able to form his own production company. In 1917, while on a War Bonds tour with Mary Pickford and Charlie Chaplin he fell madly in love with Mary. Their romance was one of Hollywood’s best kept secrets, as the both of them were married at the time. In 1920, they divorced their partners and got married. He also released his first action film, The Mark of Zorro and it was a tremendous success. By 1927, he knew that his time at the top was coming to a close. At 44 years old, he could no longer take the roles of swashbuckler or romantic hero. He then focused his attention on furthering the motion picture industry. He still found time to make films during this period, such as The Gaucho (1927), The Iron Mask (1928), and Reaching for the Moon (1931). He and Mary also made one picture together, Taming of the Shrew in 1929. The film was a disaster. This signaled the end of their marriage and they were divorced in 1936. Within months, he married his longtime mistress Lady Sylvia Ashley. His health had also began to fail him and he began to experience heart problems. The final years of his life were spent in quiet retirement at his home in Santa Monica. On December 12, 1939, he died in his sleep of a heart attack at the age of 56. (bio by: Marta Monk)  Family links:  Spouses:  Mary Pickford (1892 – 1979)*  Sylvia Ashley (1906 – 1977)*  Children:  Douglas Fairbanks (1909 – 2000)* *Calculated relationshipCause of death: Heart attack (myocardial infarction)


  • May, 23, 1883
  • USA


  • December, 12, 1939
  • USA

Cause of Death

  • Heart attack (myocardial infarction)


  • Hollywood Forever Cemetery
  • California
  • USA

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