Douglas Fairbanks Sr. – photos and quotes

Douglas Fairbanks

“The man that’s out to do something has to keep in high gear all the time.”Douglas Fairbanks, Sr.

Photo: Wild and Woolly (1917)




Reggie Mixes In (1916) with Douglas Fairbanks. Bizarre Los Angeles

Reggie Mixes In (1916)


Silent film stars Fay Tincher and Douglas Fairbanks Sr. (Bizarre Los Angeles)

Hamming it up with comedienne Fay Tincher.


Douglas Fairbanks Sr young

“I attended a military academy in Denver, my hometown; then went to the Colorado College of Mines for a time, and later to Harvard. The most trying moment of my life was while a student at Cambridge. Two friends and myself worked our way to Europe on a cattle boat. We landed in England, and then crossed into France and walked to Paris. We had great sport with the Frenchmen and the Martinique [n-word]. They couldn’t understand us, and we called them all kinds of American pet names, and they would shrug their shoulders and walk away while we stood and laughed. I tried it on a six-foot-two shade one day, and he understood English. I had no more than said it, when – bing! – I landed under a table, with blood running from a gash in my cheek where he had hit me. I looked up just in time to see friend Beardsley square off and send a right, clear from Omaha, into that black mug. The coon went down as if he had been hit by a forty-centimeter shell, and we beat it. Blood was running from his eyes and he was in bad shape. The three of us hid in the morgue overnight and got out of Paris the next day. We don’t know to this day whether we killed that fellow or not.” Douglas Fairbanks Sr.

[NOTE: Fairbanks never attended the Colorado College of Mines, Harvard, nor Cambridge. As for his racist story: that, too, sounds made up.] 

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Source: Carl W. Seitz (1916)


With his son, Doug Jr., and first wife Anna Beth Sully. He doesn’t look too thrilled, does he? The couple divorced in 1919, long after he became his affair with Mary Pickford.

Douglas Fairbanks Sr Boxing“I am very fond of athletics of any kind, especially boxing and wrestling. I like swimming, boating, motoring, or, for that matter, anything that has life to it. I simply can’t stand still.”Douglas Fairbanks Sr.

Source: Carl W. Seitz (1916)



Douglas Fairbanks Sr “Everybody who desires to be an athlete should have rules. Furthermore, the should be printed rules. There are only two kinds of athletes that can afford to disregard rules – Spanish, and checker-players. Spanish athletes have attained the highest honors in their profession – I am speaking now of New York – with no further exercise than raising the right leg six inches and resting it on a brass tube at frequent intervals during the day and night.”Douglas Fairbanks, Sr.

Source: K. Owen (1916)


Douglas Fairbanks exercising

“I do not like to converse regarding my own personality but I can say with all modesty that I do keep in the pink of condition, and I am not at all averse to telling the public just how I do it….First comes sleep. At least eight hours’ sleep is required. Or should it be are required? Just fix it upright. I’m a light sleeper myself and seldom require more than four or five. It has been aptly said that sleep is nature’s great hair restorer.”Douglas Fairbanks, Sr.

Source: K. Owen (1916)


Douglas Fairbanks 1921“On arising in the morning, a hot glass of water should be drunk. Better make that, a glass of water should be drunk. I don’t drink it myself but it is in the rules. Coffee is very bad for one striving to be athletic and should be eliminated. I seldom drink more than three cups in the morning. At certain seasons of the year one should also abstain from eggs at the matutinal mean – yes, some word that – sounds kinda German. Otherwise, they might lead to a severe strain – financial. Meats should be eaten in moderation and not more than twice daily. A well-cooked goulash at lunch should never be served simultaneously with a New England boiled dinner.”Douglas Fairbanks, Sr.

Source: K. Owen (1916)

Photo: 1921


Douglas Fairbanks smoking“I cannot place too much emphasis on the matter of alcohol. It should be shunned as a pestilence. The minute you introduce alcohol into the chemistry of the body, as Jack London says, the system begins to fight till it gets licked. And you ought to be conserving all that fighting energy. Of course, I try not to be unsociable. Drinking alone is one of the worst vices I know. Soft drinks of certain brands should be shunned – that is, one should try not to subsist on them. There is only one man in the nation whoever became famous because of a soft drink. And he hasn’t any more job than a rabbit now. Now about tobacco. It is generally conceded that nicotine is bad for the lungs. If one’s lungs are weak he is weak all over. The man, woman, or child who seeks to be athletic should cut out the cigarettes, cigars, and pipes. I’ll cut out tobacco myself if my wife continues to harp on the subject of my smoking.”Douglas Fairbanks, Sr.

Source: K. Owen (1916)


Douglas Fairbanks Sr on the cover of Motion Picture Magazine. (Bizarre Los Angeles)


“One of the principal things about athletics is exercise. There’s no use trying to be athletic without it. Ten minutes of gymnastics when arising in the morning is usually sufficient when augmented by walking. The exercise should be taken in front of an open window, as the breathing of fresh air is very good for one. Automobiles should be shunned. Shunning them is often very good exercise in itself. What I mean to convey, however, is that when a person has a machine, he rides instead of walks, this losing much healthful exercise.”Douglas Fairbanks, Sr.

Source: K. Owen (1916)


Douglas Fairbanks When the Cloud Rolls By“Those who strive for physical prowess often neglect the mental and spiritual. A half-hour each day should be devoted to serious reading – psychology and metaphysics, for instance. You will be surprised at the results – just as much surprised probably, as I would be. In conclusion, I might state that I am proud that I am an athlete. It is my intention to keep on being one, in the same old way.”Douglas Fairbanks, Sr.

Source: K. Owen (1916)


Douglas Fairbanks Sr“Yes, I like California very much, and, although Broadway has its attractions, I like Hollywood better and would like to be there now. The outdoor life has a great attraction for me, and someday I hope to enjoy it to my heart’s content. We were at the beach for the summer with a friend. I built a dandy sailboat out of an old canoe, and I expect to try it out next year. No, I’m not afraid of sharks in the ocean; the only kind of shark I fear is the money shark.”Douglas Fairbanks Sr.

Source: Carl W. Seitz (1916)

Douglas Fairbanks“At present, I am at the Riverdale studio. We are working on a Western picture, in which I play the part of a brave cowboy, and I am kept very busy. This summer was too hot for work, though. Our studio is glass, and when it is ninety in the shade here it was about a hundred and twenty on the stage. We simply couldn’t do good work, and so we reported for the day and then unreported. My favorite excuse was, ‘My God! I’ll faint if I stay here another minute.’ I thought of having that sentence copyrighted, as some of the folks were trying to beat me out by using it. Do you blame me?” — Douglas Fairbanks Sr.

Source: Carl W. Seitz (1916)


“Things are too serious now – with the war – and comedy helps one to forget his troubles. I came very near going to the Mexican border when it appeared that war was inevitable; I would have joined Roosevelt’s Rough Riders if they had reorganized.”Douglas Fairbanks Sr.

Source: Carl W. Seitz (1916)

Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford 1925“I receive only a hundred [fan letters] a day as compared to her three hundred.”Douglas Fairbanks Sr. 

Source: Carl W. Seitz (1916)

Photo: With Mary Pickford, c. 1925.

 Douglas Fairbanks“I am always glad to hear from my friends and am pleased to see that my work is liked. I wish only that I had more time to answer all of my admirers personally. A very few of my letters are rather peculiar, but they are all sincere, I believe, and that is the main thing. I believe, and that is the main thing. Someone wants to know why I don’t get Marguerite Clark for a leading lady, or Teddy Roosevelt for a leading ‘heavy.’ I try to, or else have my secretary answer all of the letters. These friends have helped me to success on the screen, and I hope to keep them as true friends.”Douglas Fairbanks Sr.

Source: Carl W. Seitz (1916)


Douglas Fairbanks in THE MATRIMANIAC (1916) Bizarre Los Angeles

Posing outside a jail window in the comedy The Matrimaniac (1916).


Douglas Fairbanks 1921“Oh, at first it [publicity] seems rather funny and somewhat of a dream; but when one becomes used to it, it seems fine, and he craves for more; it gives encouragement and it helps a great deal. There is a great future in Moving Pictures, and I am glad that I shall remain in them, although I did like the legitimate stage very much. Perhaps it is because I like to talk. Only this afternoon I addressed a woman’s club to keep in practice.”Douglas Fairbanks Sr.

Source: Carl W. Seitz (1916)


Douglas Fairbanks Sr. (Bizarre Los Angeles)


Newspapers boasted that Douglas Fairbanks and Charles Chaplin earned $1,000,000 apiece in 1917. In this graphic, Photoplay Magazine lists Mary Pickford as earning $500,000. Other sources, however, claimed that she, too, earned $1,000,000 that year.


“It was for naught that Douglas that captured the imagination and love of the public. The spirit of his pictures, their optimism, and infallibility, were very much to the American taste, and indeed to the taste of the whole world. He had extraordinary magnetism and charm and a genuine boyish enthusiasm which he conveyed to the public. As I began to know him intimately I found him disarmingly honest because he admitted that he enjoyed being a snob and that successful people had allure for him.” — Charles Chaplin on his friend Douglas Fairbanks.

Photo: 1917 at Chaplin‘s studio. It was a gag photo of them saying goodbye to one another before Fairbanks left for the East Coast to make a movie.



“I believe that the motion picture industry has a wonderful future. I like it particularly because it keeps one out in the open.”Douglas Fairbanks Sr.


Douglas Fairbanks Sr“As an art, the photoplay has not begun to come into its full fruition. More and more the public, now initiated into many of the mysteries of cameraland, demands not only artistic photography but suspense and surprise; and a good seasoning of comedy…The chief difficulty these days is the lack of suitable stories, although half the world is writing so-called scenarios.”Douglas Fairbanks Sr.

Source: Alfred A. Cohn (1917)


Douglas Fairbanks Poster“California offers exceptional opportunities to the producer of photoplays. Every conceivable locale in the world can be duplicated here, and so forth.”Douglas Fairbanks Sr.

Source: Alfred A. Cohn (1917)


“In this game of life, the fortunate ride at the expense of the less fortunate. The big idea is to do it cheerfully no matter how humble the task.”Douglas Fairbanks Sr.


Douglas Fairbanks headstand“What we, as a nation, need most these days, is more balance – more poise. We Americans are too susceptible to panic and hysteria, particularly in a time when absolute balance is required…. Another great fault with us, as a people, is our insatiable demand for speed. We want it everywhere – we even dine too rapidly because of our fear that we will miss something somewhere. Why can’t people take it easy? Speed merely serves to speed the end of existence.”Douglas Fairbanks Sr.

Source: Alfred A. Cohn (1917)


Dpuglas Fairbanks Sr“Good cheer and companionship do not come in bottles and the door to fame is never swung on double hinges.” — Douglas Fairbanks Sr.

Source: Alfred A. Cohn (1917)


Douglas Fairbanks Sr“The man with a message for the world will get it over if he is earnest and conscientious, and can impress his sincerity on those who listen. It’s mighty handy to have a press agent and a valet around; one can always be sure of their enthusiastic applause at the right time.”Douglas Fairbanks Sr.

Source: Alfred A. Cohn (1917)


Douglas Fairbanks Sr“I aim to have some real purpose, some theme behind each photoplay I produce; not a lesson conveyed in some conventional way but with a coating of sugar as it were, over it.”Douglas Fairbanks Sr.

Source: Alfred A. Cohn (1917)


“With many who up in the world, the big problem, though they do not realize it, is to get down again — down to the level of the man who views life.”Douglas Fairbanks Sr.

Source: Alfred A. Cohn (1917)


Douglas Fairbanks personality poster

A personality poster, circa 1918-1919.


Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, and Chaplin about to embark on a hugely successful Liberty Loan Drive tour in 1918.


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Douglas Fairbanks Anita Loos John Emerson

“One always dislikes giving up associations that are pleasant. But Mr. Fairbanks decided to get away from satirical comedies and try a new type of play. We do our best work in satirical comedies. That’s our specialty, so naturally, we ventured forth to pastures new.”Anita Loos

Source: Lillian Montanye (1918)

Photo: With Anita Loos and John Emerson.



“In taking stock of ourselves, we should not forget that fear plays a large part in the drama of failure. That is the first thing to be dropped. Fear is a mental deficiency susceptible of correction if taken in hand before it gains an ascendancy over us. Fear comes with the thought of failure.”Douglas Fairbanks, Sr.

Source: His book Taking Stock of Ourselves.



“Some folks get a great deal of excitement from picking up a poker hand to see what they have drawn, but for me, the real pleasure in life is in trying out new climbing and jumping stunts just to see what will happen to me.”Douglas Fairbanks, Sr.

Source: 1921

The Mark of Zorro (1920)

Douglas Fairbanks in The Three Musketeers. (Bizarre Los Angeles)

“The first business of the maker of pictures is to see that he entertains the public that trusts him and pays money for recreation at his hands. But it sometimes happens that in this great business of entertaining the public through the medium of the silver sheet, the producer can slip into his creation elements of moral suasion or educational enlightenment, and if he can, he will do well to accomplish this feat, for in so doing he adds permanent values and gives his fiction an element of vitality that will yield it longer life. But the producer must proceed on the theory that the public will not resent either preachment or education provided it doesn’t realize it is taking the dose. It must be inserted in the capsule of unqualified entertainment.”Douglas Fairbanks, Sr.

Source: 1921

Photo: The Three Musketeers (1921)


On the cover of Photoplay Magazine for Robin Hood (1922).


Charles Chaplin John Barrymore Douglas Fairbanks

Charles ChaplinJohn Barrymore, and Douglas Fairbanks posing for a gag photo in 1924.


Douglas Fairbanks in The Thief of Bagdad (1924). Bizarre Los Angeles

The Thief of Bagdad (1924).


Gaucho Eve Sothern Douglas Fiarbanks Sr

Douglas Fairbanks is making a story of a South American cowboy, the gaucho being the picturesque name for his character. The plot calls for two leading ladies, one to portray the spiritual influence over the star and the other to give a wildfire, untamed, jealous and passionate daughter of the tropics to the screen.

As soon as the announcement of the story was made, the gates of Doug‘s studio were stormed by every kind of girl.

“I’m awful spiritual-looking,” they would say, appearing with nunlike head-dresses or lilies in their hands, or 

“If he wants a vamp, I’m it!” they insisted, wrapping themselves in Spanish shawls and virtually nothing else.

If they seemed to have promise, tests were made – tests with Doug himself occasionally – but the results viewed in the projection room at Pickfair were greeted with sighs.

The sort of girl who would have done very nicely was already a star in her own right or tied up on a long-term contract with a schedule of pictures ahead making her unavailable.

One day, Edwin Carewe, producer and director, strolled in to see Doug about a small matter of business.

“Stay to lunch with me,” invited Doug.

“Can’t. Got to see a test of a girl I’m putting under contract,” protested Carewe.

They compromised by deciding to see the film together before lunch.

“What do you think of her?” asked Carewe, as he cut into his beefsteak.

“She’s the girl I’m looking for!” caroled Doug.

And so, as Doug says, Eve Southern was “lunched to fame.”  — Alice L. Tildesly in 1927

Photo: With Eve Sothern on the set of The Gaucho (1927).


The Gaucho 1927 Fairbanks


The Gaucho

The Gaucho (1927)


Douglas Fairbanks Sr and Jr. pose for a 1930s portrait. (Bizarre Los Angeles)

Posing with Jr.


Douglas Fairbanks Sr. (Bizarre Los Angeles)

From 1932.


Waxwork likenesses of Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks at the Movieland Wax Museum. (Bizarre Los Angeles)

Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks are honored at the Movieland Wax Museum in Buena Park in the 1960s.





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