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Original The Silent Men header art

The Silent Men Radio Program

Dee-Scription: Home >> D D Too Home >> Radio Logs >> The Silent Men

Spot ad for premiere of The Silent Men from October 14 1951
Spot ad for premiere of The Silent Men from October 14 1951

Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., as a Navy Lieutenant
Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., as a Navy Lieutenant

Beach Jumper Unit 1 insignia
Beach Jumper Unit 1 insignia

Commander Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., recipient of the Silver Star and the Legion of Merit
Commander Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., recipient of the Silver Star and the Legion of Merit.

Spot ad for The Silent Men from January 13 1952
Spot ad for The Silent Men from January 13 1952

64' ASR Craft employed by the Beach Jumpers of World War II
64' ASR Craft employed by the Beach Jumpers of World War II



Background

"Turbo vestri hostilis." A latin phrase that literally translated might be "whirlwind to your enemy" or more likely, in the case of the famed, but little known 'Beach Jumpers' units of World War II and beyond, "causing disorder in your enemy." And that's precisely what Beach Jumper units did.

The Silent Men, a starring Radio vehicle for Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. wasn't simply a young man's delayed pipe dream translated into a Radio espionage adventure series. Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. actually lived and worked with espionage and special operations personnel for most of his State Department and U.S. Naval Reserve careers throughout the World War II years.

Initially detached to The State Department by FDR, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. was a roving envoy and liason to several South American countries in the years leading up to World War II until shortly after our entry into the War. When war finally arrived, Douglas Fairbanks was attached to one of Lord Mountbatten's Special Operations units, first in the North Atlantic then later in the Mediterranean and North Africa. The highly specialized units Lt. Commander Fairbanks worked with were highly classified, counter-intelligence and psychological operations units informally referred to as 'beach jumpers.'

Some of you may have read about the highly successful deceptions and misdirection efforts leading up to the D-Day invasion. Efforts such as Fortitude South, Operation Bodyguard, and the mythical 1st United States Army Group (FUSAG) were devised to persuade the German forces that the D-Day landings were to be near Pas de Calais, rather than their actual destinations on the beaches of Normandy. The German high command had already hypothesized that Pas de Calais would be the most likely landing location for an invasion. Rather than attempt to confuse the Germans, the Allied Special Operations units fed the German High Command's vanity about Pas de Calais with a variety of elaborate physical (camouflage, etc.), intelligence (the famed Enigma machine misdirections), and psychological operations. Lord Montbatten was responsible for the planning for many of these activities and Lt. Commander Douglas Fairbanks was seconded to Montbatten's operations based on the Isle of Wight, the jumping off point for many of these psyop and physical deception misdirection efforts.

Beach jumper units were small, highly mobile, multi-skilled units comprised of radio engineers, watercraft pilots, navigators, and demolition experts. Their mission was tactical evasion and misdirection. They were initially employed to simulate an amphibious landing force of as many as 50,000 to 70,000 personnel. They would accomplish this by a combination of amphibious smoke-laying, accompanied by highly mobile loudspeakers mounted on fast, highly maneuverable craft that would race back and forth over an area large enough and wide enough to support such a landing. The combination of sound, detonations, smoke and often simulated landing craft were convincing enough to cause the enemy to waver or delay at the point of committing its resources. The resulting tactical advantage was often enough to turn the tide to the advantage of a larger, strategic operation.

When it came time to pitch The Silent Men to NBC, one imagines that it had to have been a pretty easy sell. Given Fairbanks' extensive first-hand experience, combined with his natural acting and production skills, The Silent Men offered almost no downside for NBC. What apparently remained something of a secret for all those years was the actual hands-on perspective from which Fairbanks approached the production. One assumes it was a combination of Fairbanks' natural humility and the continuing need for operational security that kept the full story of Fairbanks special ops background from the public. But what a wonderful promotional feature it could have been if it had been made public.

Despite the more fascinating disclosure of Fairbanks' own special ops background, each of the eventual twenty-nine scripts that comprised The Silent Men were quite compelling and interesting vignettes about an area of intelligence warfare rarely reported.

Well acted, well produced, well directed, and very well written, The Silent Men remains just as compelling and cautionary to this day. But as an historic production, the backstory of Douglas Fairbanks' real-life intelligence activities, combined with the actual vignettes, make for a truly memorable and highly collectable series.

As a personal tribute to the various intelligence agencies throughout the U.S. Government, Douglas Fairbanks was pretty thorough in his recognition efforts. Here are the roles and agencies that Fairbanks adopted during the course of his The Silent Men programs:

  • Immigration Agent George Stenson
  • Federal Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Agent Pete Jackson
  • Department of Commerce Enforcement Division Special Agent James Cooper
  • Postal Service Agent Bill Foster
  • Treasury Agent Ben Garrett
  • Federal Narcotics Bureau Special Agent Larry Thomas
  • Federal Undercover Agent Tom Brackett
  • Treasury Agent Henry Winard
  • Central Intelligence Agency-detached Special Agent Mel Girard
  • Department of Defense Investigative Service (DODIS) Special Agent Fred Thompson
  • Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) Special Agent Paul Wellman
  • Immigration and Naturalization Special Agent Pete Bradford
  • FBI Special Agent Michael Rothen
  • Secret Agent Ian McKay
  • Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) Special Agent Alec Brown
  • Department of Defense (DOD) Special Agent Mark Wayne
  • Department of Defense (DOD) Special Agent Donald Hines
  • Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Special Agent Dick Bosworth
  • Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Special Agent Henry McAdam
  • Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Special Agent Charles Wakefield
  • Federal Bureau of Narcotics Special Agent Allen Newhouse
  • Department of Defense Investigative Service (DODIS) Special Agent Frank Hepburn
  • C.A.R.E-detached Special Agent Dick Brooks
  • Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Special Agent Tom Manning
  • United States Postal Service (USPS) Special Agent Jack O'Hara
  • FBI Special Agent Eric Madden
  • Secret Service Agent Sam Courtney

One can't help but wonder at the shot in the arm such tributes must have been for the tens of thousands of actual 'silent men', their agencies and their families listening to these fascinating tributes. One can also be quite certain that at least hundreds of the actual 'silent men' listening to these broadcasts knew of Fairbanks' own contributions to their silent professions.

Series Derivatives:

None
Genre: Anthology of Golden Age Radio Espionage Dramas
Network(s): NBC
Audition Date(s) and Title(s): None
Premiere Date(s) and Title(s): 51-10-14 01 The Big Sneak
Run Dates(s)/ Time(s): 51-10-14 to 52-06-04; NBC; Twenty-nine, 30-minute programs; Sundays, 4:30 p.m. or 9:00 p.m., then Wednesdays at 8:30 p.m.
Syndication: Doug-Fair Productions
Sponsors: Sustaining
Director(s): Warren Lewis [Producer/Director]
Walter McGraw [Director]
Principal Actors:

Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Georgia Ellis, William Conrad, Paul Dubov, Ted de Corsia, Ramsay Hill, Herb Butterfield, Paul Frees, Jan Arvan, Edwin Max, Lou Merrill, John Stevenson, Howard McNear, Raymond Burr, Betty Lou Gerson, Don Diamond, Ben Wright, Joy Terry, Tom Holland, Lillian Buyeff, Stacy Harris, John Gibson, William Keene, Joe DeSantis, Roc Rogers, Rugh Yorke, Bernard Lenrow, Dan Ocko, Leon Janney, Gregory Morton, Bert Holland, Jerry Hausner, Bertram Tanzewell, William Tracy, Virginia Gregg, Anne Diamond, Tom McKee, Jack Kruschen, Kurt Martell, Stan Waxman, Jerry Farber, Glen Vernon, Jean Tatum, Bill Yagerman, Frank Gerstle, Jeff Corey, Vivi Janis, Lamont Johnson, Ted Osborne, Charles Davis, Lurene Tuttle, Harry Lang, Betty Moran, Jack Carroll, Lou Krugman, Nestor Paiva, George Neise, Junius Matthews, Jeffrey Silver, Shepard Menken, Joan Banks, Lawrence Dobkin, Elaine Welch, John Dehner, Parley Baer, Donald Morrison, Mary Jane Croft, Lynn Allen, Paul Richards, George Pirrone, Jeanne Bates, Fritz Feld, Alma Lawton, Ralph Moody, Joan Ray, Eve McVey, Robert Boone, Byron Kane, Sally Cassell, Noreen Gammill, Dal McKennon, Gloria Ann Simpson, Ruth Perrin, Charles Smith, Eddie Fields

Recurring Character(s): Varied from production to production.
Protagonist(s): Varied from production to production.
Author(s): None
Writer(s) Joel Murcott, Warren Lewis, Robert Ryf, Lou Rusoff, John Bagni, Gwen Bagni
Music Direction:
Musical Theme(s): Unknown
Announcer(s): Don Stanley and Fred Collins.
Estimated Scripts or
Broadcasts:
39 (Scripts)
Episodes in Circulation: 27
Total Episodes in Collection: 27
Provenances:
RadioGOLDINdex, Hickerson Guide.

Notes on Provenances:

The most helpful provenances were the log of the radioGOLDINdex and newspaper listings.

Digital Deli Too RadioLogIc


Two mysteries remain after this in-depth research review. There are two episode titles that remain unresolved:

  • Moscow Counterfeiters
  • The Enemy

Moscow Counterfeiters and The Enemy may very well be the same episode, but in any case, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. announced Moscow Counterfeiters as the program to follow 'Death In the Mail', but Moscow Counterfeiters unaccountably never aired.

Fairbanks similarly announced The Enemy as the episode to follow The Gigantic Hoax, but The Enemy remains one of apparently two uncirculating episodes and the newspaper listings of the era describe episodes other than 'The Enemy'

OTRisms:

Other persistent errors that plague commercial otr are as follows:

  • There is no such word as 'Souveniers' in the canon of The Silent Men.
  • Silent Men did not air over the NBC network, per se between February 18, 1952 and March 19, 1952. On February 26, 1952, NBC announced that it wouldn't air again until March 19, 1952. The slot previously occupied by The Silent Men had been taken over by Whitehall 1212 during the overlap period.
  • We remain of the belief that Doug-Fair had contracted for a total of thirty-nine installments of The Silent Men. It would appear that it was NBC's decision to end the run at twenty-nine installments. We're convinced that there are ten other exemplars of The Silent Men transcription discs or reels yet to be disclosed.

You're welcome to compare our fully provenanced research with the Silent Men log from the '1,500 expert researchers' at the OTRR and its commercial surrogate "Calfkiller" sites, which they claim to be correct according to their 'OTTER log. We've provided a screen shot of their current log for comparison, HERE, to protect our own due diligence.


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We don't pronounce our Golden Age Radio research as 'certified' anything. By the very definition, research is imperfect. We simply tell the truth. As is our continuing practice, we provide our fully provenanced research results--to the extent possible--right here on the page, for any of our peers to review--or refute--as the case may be. If you take issue with any of our findings, you're welcome to cite any better verifiable source(s) and we'll immediately review them and update our findings accordingly. As more verifiable provenances surface, we'll continue to update the following series log, as appropriate.

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The Silent Men Radio Program Log

Date Episode Title Avail. Notes
51-10-14
1
The Big Sneak
Y
51-10-07 Post Standard - NBC will launch a new radio series at 10 p.m. today. Called The Silent Men, the series will salute unpublicized government agents (all the rest have their own shows.) Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., who had his own government service during World War 2, will star in the presentation. 51-10-01 The Bee - Sunday, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., in a new series, "Silent Men," based on government cases.

51-10-14 Wisconsin State Journal - 9 p.m.--The Silent Men (WMAQ): Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. in new series about unpublicized government agents.
51-10-21
2
The Empire Of Pip the Blind
Y
51-10-21 Wisconsin State Journal - 10:00 Silent Men
51-10-28
3
The Case Of the Rubber Gloves
Y
51-10-27 Wisconsin State Journal - 9:00 The Silent Men WMAQ
51-11-04
4
Death In the Mail
Y
51-11-03 Gettysburg Times - Sunday 1 Silent Men, "Death In the Mail".

[Announces the Moscow Counterfeiters as next]
51-11-11
5
The Trans-Atlantic Push
Y
51-11-10 Wisconsin State Journal - Sunday 9:00 Silent Men WMAQ
51-11-18
6
Heroin Source X
Y
51-11-17 Evening Independent - Radio Sunday 10 Silent Men "Heroin Source X."
51-11-25
7
The Roping Of Joe Landis
Y
51-11-25 Wisconsin State Journal - 9 p.m. -- Silent Men (WMAQ): treasury agent seeks counterfeiters' plates, tossed into bay.
51-12-02
8
Death and Taxes
Y
51-12-02 Wisconsin State Journal
9 p. m.—Silent Men (WMAQ).
"Death and Taxes," tale of trap
for gambling syndicate's boss.

51-12-02 Fresno Bee Republican - 7:00 PM A gambler's love of roses leads to his downfall, during the dramatization of "Death and Taxes on the "Silent Men" series tonight. DOUGLAS FAIRBANKS, JR., stars in this government case.
51-12-09
9
Piracy--20th Century Brand
Y
51-12-09 Wisconsin State Journal - 9 p.m. -- Silent Men (WMAQ): "Piracy--20th Century Brand."
51-12-16
10
The Bogus G.I.
Y
51-12-16 Wisconsin State Journal - 9 p.m. -- Silent Men, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., (WMAQ): exposes racket worked on relatives of fighting men.

51-12-16 Fresno Bee Republican - 7:00 PM DOUGLAS FAIRBANKS, JR., stars on "THE SILENT MEN." Tonight's story deals with uncovering a vicious racket.

[Announces that '
Souvenirs of War' folllows]

51-12-23
11
Souvenirs of War
Y
51-12-23 Wisconsin State Journal
Sunday 4:30 p.m. -- The Silent Men: Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., (WMAQ): in "
Souvenirs of War".

51-12-23 New York Times
10:30-WNBC--The Silent Men, Play: With Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.


[Announces next episode as '
Visas for Sale']
51-12-30
--
Preempted
Y
[Preempted]

51-12-30 Wisconsin State Journal - 4:30 p.m. -- Silent Men, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., (WMAQ): exposes
racket worked on relatives of fighting men.

51-12-30 Fresno Bee Republican
DOUGLAS FAIRBANKS, JR., as
T-man Paul Wellman, stars in a thrilling episode taken from government files.

51-12-30 Chicago Tribune
4:00--WMAQ--
Voices and Events of 1951.

51-12-30 New York Times
10:30-WNBC--
Cotton Bowl Football Preview

51-12-30 Los Angeles Times
7:00 P.M. KFI-
Voices & Events.
52-01-06
12
Visas For Sale
Y
52-01-05 Capital Times - Sunday 4:30 p.m. -- The Silent Men: Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., in "Visas for Sale"--WIBA.
52-01-13
13
Little White Lies
Y
52-01-12 Capital Times - Sunday 4:30 p.m. -- The Silent Men: Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., in "Little White Lies", tale of gem smuggling--WIBA.
52-01-20
14
The Gigantic Hoax
Y
52-01-20 Wisconsin State Journal - 4:30 p.m.--Silent Men (WIBA): arms designers vanish.
52-01-27
15
The Enemy
N
52-01-27 Wisconsin State Journal - 4:30 p.m. -- Silent Men (WMAQ): casting dies, vital to defense disappear.

52-01-27 Fresno Bee Republican
2:30 p.m.; DOUGLAS FAIRBANKS. JR.,stars as the government agent
tracing stolen dies on SILENT MEN.
52-02-03
16
The Big Kill
Y
52-02-02 San Mateo Times - Sunday Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. will be starred as government agent Alex Brown in the "Big Kill" on "Silent Men" heard over KNBC at 2:30.
52-02-10
17
Blood Money
Y
52-02-09 Gettysburg Times - Sunday: NBC--5:30 Silent Men "Black Market Blood."
52-02-17
18
Stolen Arsenal
Y
52-02-17 Wisconsin State Journal - 4:30 p.m. -- Silent Men (WMAQ): "The Stolen Arsenal".

["
Confess or Die" announced as the next program]

52-02-24
--
--
--
52-02-24 Syracuse Herald-Journal
5:30--NBC--SILENT MEN

52-02-24 New York Times Times
5:00 P.M.--WNBC---Hollywood Star Playhouse: A Letter From Laura, with Jane Wyman.

52-02-24 Los Angeles Times
7:00 P.M. KFI-
Meet Your Congress.

52-02-24 Chicago Tribune
4:30--WMAQ--
Whitehall 1212.

52-02-26 Syracuse Herald-Journal
NBC's SILENT MEN
returns to the radiolanes March 19 in the Wednesday 10 P.M. slot.

52-03-02 New York Times Times
5:00 P.M.--WNBC---Hollywood Star Playhouse: Father's Day--Claire Trevor.

52-03-09 New York Times Times
5:00 P.M.--WNBC---Hollywood Star Playhouse: Hospital Zone, Quiet--Paul Douglas.

52-03-16 New York Times Times
5:00 P.M.--WNBC---Hollywood Star Playhouse: Companion Wanted--Deborah Kerr.
52-03-19
19
Confess Or Die
Y
Changes to Wednesdays at 10:00 p.m.

52-03-19 Capital Times
Tonight's schedule on WIBA and
WIBA-FM will be highlighted by
ftie return of "The Silent Men,"
semi-documentary adventure series
starring Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.
Tonight's story, to be broadcast
at 9, will be "
Confess or Die,"
dramatizing the behind-the-scenes
story of espionage charges against
an American newsman behind the
Iron Curtain.

52-03-19 The Progress
NBC 10 Douglas Fairbanks Silent Men back at new time, "
Confess or Die".

52-03-19 New York Times Times
10-10:30--"The Silent Men," With Douglas Fairbanks Jr.--WNBC
52-03-26
20
Murder In Vienna
Y
--
52-04-02
21
Trouble At Suez
Y
52-04-02 Wisconsin State Journal - 9 p.m. -- Silent Men (WIBA): troubles at the Suez canal.
52-04-09
22
The University Fix
Y
52-04-09 The Progress - 10 Silent Men "Drug Addiction".
52-04-16
23
The Torch
Y
52-04-16 Lowell Sun
THE SILENT MEN Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. as government agent in The Torch WBZ 10.
52-04-23
24
Food and War
Y
Announces "Stolen Masterpiece" as next
52-04-30
--
Pre-empted
--
[Preempted for United Jewish Appeal Special]

52-04-30 San Mateo Times
An American special agent
co-operates with the French Surete in the capture of an international thief and murderer on this week's broadcast of Douglas Fairbanks "The Silent Men" on KNBC at 6:30

52-04-30 New York Times Times
10:00-WNBC--United Jewish Appeal:
The Bitter and the Sweet, With Sid Caesar, Robert Montgomery; Senator Herbert H. Lehman, Speaker
52-05-07
25
Missing Masterpiece
Y
52-05-07 Capital Times
9 p.m. -- Silent Men: U.S. agent
tracks down art thief--WIBA.
52-05-14
26
The Miracle Cure
Y
52-05-14 Evening Independent
NBC--10 Silent Men "Cure Racket."
52-05-21
27
Sabotage
Y
52-05-21 Evening Independent
NBC--10 S1lent Men "Naval Plot."
52-05-28
28
The Green Sedan
Y
52-05-28 Long Beach Press-Telegram
Working with only a description of "a man with a scar" and a "green sedan," an FBI agent tracks a counterfeiting ring on "The Silent Men" over KFI at 6:30.
52-06-04
29
Title Unknown
N
52-06-04 Los Angeles Times
6:30 P.M. KFI-Silent Men.

52-06-04 San Mateo Times
Custom officials fall to stop the illegal Import of diamonds and the silent man is brought in to help solve the mystery on Silent Men on KNBC at 6:30.

52-06-04 Syracuse Herald-Journal
5:30--NBC--SILENT MEN






The Silent Men Radio Program Biographies




Douglas Elton Ulman Fairbanks, II [Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.]
(Host/Performer)

(1909-2000)
Screen, Radio and Television Actor, Producer and Director.

Birthplace: New York City, New York, U.S.A.

Education: Bovee School, New York; Collegiate Military and Knickerbocker Grays, New York;
Lycéee Janson de Sailly in Paris; Pasadena Polytechnic Institute, California

Radiography:
1936 Fleischmann's Yeast Hour
1937 Lux Radio Theatre
1939 Silver Theater
1939 Gulf Screen Guild Theater
1941 Kraft Music Hall
1942 This Is War
1945 Music Millions Love
1946 Theatre Of Romance
1946 Request Performance
1946 Hollywood Star Time
1946 Lady Esther Screen Guild Theatre
1946 Cavalcade Of America
1947 U.S.O. Campaign
1947 Academy Awards
1947 Radio Reader's Digest
1947 Hollywood Fights Back
1948 Suspense
1948 We Care
1948 The Walking Giant
1948 Anacin Hollywood Star Theatre
1949 Screen Director's Playhouse
1949 Sealtest Variety Theatre
1950 Hallmark Playhouse
1950 The Big Show
1951 The Lucky Strike Program
1951 Hedda Hopper's Hollywood
1951 The Silent Men
Hollywood Sound Stage

Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. circa 1927
Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. circa 1927


Douglas Fairbanks fan card circa 1931
Douglas Fairbanks fan card circa 1931

Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and Sr. circa 1938
Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and Sr. circa 1938

Douglas Fairbanks fan card circa 1937
Douglas Fairbanks fan card circa 1937

Lieutenant Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., United States Naval Reserve
Lieutenant Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., United States Naval Reserve

Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. was a Special Operations Officer while a Commander during World War II
Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. was a Special Operations Officer while a Commander during World War II.
Douglas Elton Ulman Fairbanks was born in 1909, the son of swashbuckling silent film era idol, Douglas Fairbanks and a cotton industrialist's daughter, Beth Sully. Young Douglas soon proved to be a gifted child. His parents divorced when Douglas was nine after which Douglas lived with his mother in New York, California, London and Paris.

During the process of completing his education at schools throughout the U.S. and Europe, young Fairbanks had actually begun his acting career at the age of 14 under contract to Paramount Studios. Even more strikingly handsome than his own famous father, Douglas Fairbanks, the junior, was soon becoming as much of a romantic screen idol as his famous, swashbuckling father had been.

Young Douglas saw no reason to attempt to compete with his famous father, and spent much of his early years with journalists having to remind them that he neither aspired to compete with his father's talent and image, nor felt any presssure to do so. He was blessed with his own striking good looks, he was acquiring his own skills at his acting craft, had inherited much of his father's athleticism, and was by almost every measure an actor of more potentially broad appeal than his father had ever been, despite his father's considerable legend.

He'd developed a taste for the Arts very early in life, and became a somewhat regular painter and sculptor. Every bit the Renaissance Man -- even as a young adult -- Fairbanks continued over his life to demonstrate a wide variety of skills and talents in Athletics, in The Fine Arts, in Business, in the Military, and of course in the Performing Arts. He managed firms as diverse as a mining company, a hotel group, a chain of bowling alleys, a pop corn making firm and a movie and TV company. During World War II, he headed London's Douglas Voluntary Hospital (an establishment taking care of war refugees), was President Franklin D. Roosevelt's hand-picked envoy for a Special Mission to South America in 1940 before becoming a Lieutenant in the Navy (eventually acquiring the rank of Captain in 1954) and being part of the Allies' landing in Sicily and Elba in 1943.

Later in his life he became a committed world citizen, garnering many humanitarian awards. A life-long Anglophile as well, Douglas Fairbanks Jr. was knighted in 1949 and often entertained Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip in his 'The Boltons' London mansion.

Although he'd debuted in a credited role in Stephen Steps Out (1923)--at the age of 14--for Paramount, the film flopped and his silent film career somewhat stagnated despite a critically acclaimed role in Stella Dallas (1925) at the age of 16. He'd actually first appeared in film at the age of seven as a newsboy in, ironically enough, American Aristocracy (1916).

His acting career picked up significantly after he married married Lucille Le Sueur, the young starlet who was to become Joan Crawford. The young couple became the toast of the town on both coasts and better roles and greater success followed for both young actors.

For Fairbanks' part, his portrayal of villains in Little Caesar (1931) and The Prisoner of Zenda (1937), as well as broader characterizations in slapstick comedies or adventure yarns provided him ever increasing work--and favorable impressions of his versatility. The thirties were especially fruitful for Douglas who made a point of never attempting to imitate his father.

As it turned out Joan Crawford was somewhat more interested in her career than in her marriage. The couple divorced in 1933. Six years later, on April 22, 1939, Fairbanks married Mary Lee Hartford (née Mary Lee Epling), a former wife of George Huntington Hartford, the Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company (A&P) heir. Married until her death in 1988, the couple had three daughters: Daphne, Victoria, and Melissa. Fairbanks was married one last time on May 30, 1991, to Vera Lee Shelton, a merchandiser for the early QVC Network. They remained married until Fairbanks' death in 2000.

It's quite difficult to pick which facets of Douglas Fairbanks' multivaried careers to concentrate on. There's no question that he excelled at virtually any activity he set his mind or body to. From Polo to sculpture, from Acting to Naval Military Tactics, from building a popcorn empire to building a Film and Television empire, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. seemed to have long since shaken any lingering shadows of his famous father by the time he'd completed his military service.

Indeed from that point forward it seems that no self-respecting journalist ever again had the temerity to invite comparisons between the two great Fairbanks'. They'd each made their mark their own way, and distinquished themselves in equally unique ways.

Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. brought a wonderful humanity to the roles he popularized in Film over a sixty-year career of some 100 Film roles and another 50 to 70 dramatic Television roles of a thirty-five year Television career. Add to that a 16-year career in the diplomatic corps and The Navy, some seventy years as a fine artist, and a fifty-year career as a highly successful businessman--in both conventional commerce and the Performing Arts, and you have the makings of a modern legend in his own right.

In Radio alone, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., acquired an audience his famous father had never had. Doug Fairbanks, Jr., appeared no less than 400 times in some seventy different Radio programs over an almost twenty-year career in Radio. More often than not, Fairbanks appeared on Radio in roles he'd already made famous in Film, but he was equally active in appearances as both himself, as a popular cultural and patriotic figure, as well as in his own production--The Silent Men (1951-1952). Always the gentleman, his appearances on the radio were as equally anticipated as his appearances in Film or early Television.

In all fairness to Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., it's clear that he never intended to overshadow his own famous father. But Fairbanks, the Junior, simply couldn't help the paths his own life had taken. Fame, competence in virtually any field, respect--even adoration--came to Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. almost effortlessly.

Fairbanks, the Junior, acquired his own fame and legend on his own terms--indeed, even actively downplaying his own role in World War II for decades after he'd made such a personal impact on the outcome.



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