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On May 7, 2000, Fairbanks died at the age of 90 and was interred at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood, California, in the same crypt as his father.
More DetailsHide DetailsFairbanks has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, one for motion pictures at 6318 Hollywood Boulevard and one for television at 6665 Hollywood Boulevard. In 1969 he was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the International Best Dressed List.
Fairbanks' estate was auctioned September 13, 2011 by Doyle New York, surpassing estimated proceeds by netting over a half-million dollars.
On May 30, 1991, Fairbanks wed Vera Lee Shelton, a merchandiser for QVC Network Inc. In 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed him a special envoy to South America.
More DetailsHide DetailsAlthough celebrated as an actor, Fairbanks was commissioned a reserve officer in the United States Navy at the onset of World War II and assigned to Lord Louis Mountbatten's Commando staff in the United Kingdom.
Having witnessed (and participated in) British training and cross-channel harassment operations emphasizing the military art of deception, Fairbanks attained a depth of understanding and appreciation of military deception then unheard of in the United States Navy. Lieutenant Fairbanks was subsequently transferred to Virginia Beach where he came under the command of Admiral H. Kent Hewitt, who was preparing U.S. Naval forces for the invasion of North Africa.
He wrote his autobiography, The Salad Days, in 1988.
On stage, Fairbanks toured in My Fair Lady in 1968, and in The Pleasure of His Company several times, including tours in the U.S. in 1970–72 and the 1977 Australian production with Stanley Holloway.
More DetailsHide DetailsThe College of Arms in London granted Fairbanks a coat of arms symbolising the U.S. and Britain united across the blue Atlantic Ocean by a silken knot of friendship.
It has been claimed that Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. was one of the naked men in the incriminating photos used as evidence in the divorce trial of Margaret Campbell, Duchess of Argyll in 1963.
More DetailsHide DetailsFairbanks was a friend of Laurence Olivier and was among the contributors to a documentary by The South Bank Show called Laurence Olivier: A Life. He was also a close friend of Sir Rex Harrison and was a presenter at Harrison's New York City memorial service.
In 1961, he was a guest at the wedding of Katharine Worsley with Prince Edward, Duke of Kent.
Between 1954 and 1956 he also made a number of half-hour programs at one of the smaller Elstree film studios as part of a syndicated anthology series for television called Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Presents.
Fairbanks stayed in the Naval Reserve after the war and ultimately retired a captain in 1954.
More DetailsHide DetailsFairbanks returned to Hollywood at the conclusion of World War II, but as a confirmed Anglophile, he spent a considerable amount of his time in the United Kingdom, where he was well known in the highest social circles.
He was made an Honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) in 1949.
Fairbanks convinced Hewitt of the advantages of such a unit, then repeated the proposal at Hewett's behest to Admiral Ernest King, Chief of Naval Operations. King thereupon issued a secret letter on March 5, 1943 charging the Vice Chief of Naval Operations with the recruitment of 180 officers and 300 enlisted men for the Beach Jumper program.
More DetailsHide DetailsThe Beach Jumpers' mission would simulate amphibious landings with a very limited force. Operating dozens of kilometers from the actual landing beaches and utilizing their deception equipment, the Beach Jumpers would lure the enemy into believing that theirs was the principal landing.
United States Navy Beach Jumpers saw their initial action in Operation Husky, the invasion of Sicily. Throughout the remainder of the war, the Beach Jumpers conducted their hazardous, shallow-water operations throughout the Mediterranean.
For his planning the diversion-deception operations and his part in the amphibious assault on Southern France, Lieutenant Commander Fairbanks was awarded the United States Navy's Legion of Merit with bronze V (for valor), the Italian War Cross for Military Valor, the French Légion d'honneur and the Croix de guerre with Palm, and the British Distinguished Service Cross. Fairbanks was also awarded the Silver Star for valor displayed while serving on PT boats and the National Order of the Southern Cross, conferred by the Brazilian government. Among his other exploits was the sinking of the light cruiser Capriole while in command of a mixed division of American PT Boats and British MGBs.
On April 22, 1939, Fairbanks married Mary Lee Hartford (née Mary Lee Epling), a former wife of Huntington Hartford, the A&P supermarket heir.
More DetailsHide DetailsHe remained devoted to her until her death in 1988. They had three daughters: Daphne, Victoria, and Melissa, as well as eight grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren.
The couple divorced in 1933.
More DetailsHide DetailsDespite their divorce, Fairbanks was quick to defend Crawford when her adopted daughter Christina Crawford, published Mommie Dearest, a scathing biography of Crawford's personal life. He firmly stated, "The Joan Crawford that I've heard about in Mommie Dearest is not the Joan Crawford I knew back then."
His first notable relationship was with the actress Joan Crawford, whom he began to date seriously during the filming of Our Modern Maidens. On June 3, 1929, at St Malachy in New York City, Crawford and Fairbanks married.
More DetailsHide DetailsFairbanks was only 19 and Crawford was four years older.
They went on a delayed honeymoon to England, where he was entertained by Noël Coward, Gertrude Lawrence, Bea Lillie, and Prince George, Duke of Kent. He became active in both society and politics, but Crawford was far more interested in her career and had an affair with Clark Gable.
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