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Douglas Fairbanks last will and testament

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Jul 9th, 2010
2010
Jul 9

CELEBRITY WILLS

Douglas Fairbanks wills million to his widow

 

 

 

 

By Allan R. Ellenberger

 

Douglas Fairbanks died at his Santa Monica beach house on December 12, 1939. When his will was probated less than a month later, it was learned that the actor made no mention of his former wife, Mary Pickford, bequeathing half his estate, up to $1,000,000, to his widow, the former Lady Sylvia Ashley of England. In his will, Fairbanks wrote:

 

“I respectfully request my beloved wife to devise and bequeath by her last will and testament whatever portion of said property that she receives by virtue of this instrument to such of my heirs and next of kin and for such charitable or education or patriotic purposes as she may decide in her discretion.”

 

Fairbanks added, however, he did not mean to place any restrictions upon her final disposition of the legacy.

 

The will was executed on November 2, 1936, shortly after Fairbanks married Lady Ashley. A considerable part of his property was in United Artists, film producing concern in which Mary Pickford was a partner.

 

There was some conjecture as to whether a reference to Pickford might have been made in a sealed envelope left with the will, addressed to the actors son, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. Lawyers said it concerned a $50,000 bequest to his son.

 

Regarding the letter, Fairbanks had written by hand in the will a bequest of an additional 1/10 of property to his son requesting him to distribute the money “to the people and in the proportion as I advise him by the letter addressed to him to be found with this will.”

 

The will, which covered 13 typewritten pages, named as executors the Guaranty Trust Co. of New York, which filed the document, and the Bank of America National Trust and Savings Association of Los Angeles.

 

Among his bequests were $10,000 to the Motion Picture Actors’ Relief Fund of Los Angeles, to be known as the “Douglas Fairbanks Fund;” $10,000 to Charles L. Lewis; $37,500 in a trust fund to Kenneth Davenport of Hollywood and $37,500 to a cousin, Mrs. Adelaide Crombie of Los Angeles.

 

After these specific bequests, the will disposed of the actor’s property in part as follows:

 

Twenty-fortieths of the residue to his wife, not to exceed $1,000,000; 12/40 to his son, not to exceed $600,000; 2/40 to his brother, Robert Fairbanks, not to exceed $100,000. Another brother, Norris Wilcox of New York City, also received 1/40 or a sum not to exceed $50,000.

 

Four nieces – Flobelle Burden, Mary Margaret Chappellett, Letitia Fairbanks and Lucille Fairbanks – also shared in the estate. A trust fund of one-fortieth of the residue, not to exceed $50,000, was provided for each.

 

Fairbanks provided finally that after the bequests are made and the residue divided among his wife and the others who receive their shares in 40ths, all other property remaining be equally divided between his wife and son.

 

An affidavit by his lawyer said that Fairbanks owned all the outstanding stock of the Elton Corp., which in turn owned one-fifth of the outstanding capital stock of United Artists Corp. The shares of the United Artists Corp., representing this ownership, are in the possession of the Guaranty Trust Co. which is one of the largest assets of the estate, and is also trustee of a fund of more than $700,000 which, under the will, passes to the estate. The Bankers Trust Co. is also trustee of a fund of about $500,000 which likewise passes to the estate. There were other valuable properties within New York state, including tangible personal properties.

 

Once the will was probated, it was disclosed in a petition that Douglas Fairbanks left a net estate of $2,318,651.10 (gross valuation of $2,742,060.62) and the executor, Guaranty Trust Co., was granted to exempt the estate from taxes in New York on the grounds that the actor was a resident of California.

 

Total California assets were listed as $1,301,879.58, New York assets at $1,247,452.80, and Pennsylvania assets at $192,728.24. Fairbanks California property consisted of bank accounts and funds held by the Escondido Orange Association amounting to $63,475.44; stocks valued at $500,232.95; bonds, $76,221.37 and the balance in realty holdings in Hollywood, Santa Monica, Los Angeles, Santa Fe, Venice, Westwood and Glendale.

 

The will did not mention Fairbanks first wife, the former Beth Sully, the mother of his son, who at the time was married to musical comedy actor, Jack Whiting. Also not mentioned was his second wife, ‘America’s Sweetheart,’ Mary Pickford.

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First Academy Award Ceremony…

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Feb 7th, 2009
2009
Feb 7

FILM HISTORY

Film-merit trophies awarded

 

Douglas Fairbanks and Janet Gaynor Oscar presentation

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences president, Douglas Fairbanks, presents award of merit to Janet Gaynor for her performances in Seventh Heaven, Sunrise and The Street Angel.

 

Recognition bestowed for notable achievements

 

Los Angeles Times
May 17, 1929

 

Before a large gathering of motion picture celebrities, Janet Gaynor and other notables last night received statuettes of bronze and gold for outstanding achievement in different branches of the industry. The trophies were awarded at the merit banquet held simultaneously with the celebration of the second anniversary of the of the organization of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

 

The program of the evening was opened by Douglas Fairbanks who gave the chairmanship over to  William C. De Mille. Fifteen first and twenty honorable mention awards were presented following a program which started at 7 p.m. with an unusual showing of sound and talking pictures.

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Douglas Fairbanks Memorial…

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Dec 12th, 2008
2008
Dec 12

The Douglas Fairbanks Memorial

 

DOUGLAS ELTON FAIRBANKS, SR.

May 23, 1883 — December 12, 1939

 

   

By Allan R. Ellenberger

  

When actor Douglas Fairbanks died of a heart attack at his Santa Monica home on December 12, 1939, the world mourned with all of Hollywood. Following funeral services in the Wee Kirk o’ the Heather at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Fairbanks’ casket was placed in a crypt next to Will Rogers, who, at the time, still awaited entombment in Claremore, Oklahoma.

  

 

The final resting place of Douglas Fairbanks at Hollywood Forever Cemetery is a stately marble sarcophagus estimated at the time to have cost $40,000. Add to that the cost of perpetual care and other expenses incidental to the building of the sarcophagus would bring the ultimate expenditure to about $50,000. At the time, it was one of the most costly of its kind in Southern California.

 

 

The crypt is set in front of four tall pillars of white Georgia marble, behind which is a panel that is inscribed: “Douglas Fairbanks, 1883-1939.” A bas relief bronze profile of the actor is positioned over the inscription.

 

 

In front of the sarcophagus is a long, narrow reflection pool, which, at the time, was lined with hedge trees.

 

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The dedication ceremonies at Hollywood Cemetery were scheduled for May 25, 1941 – two days after the actor’s 58th birthday. Fairbanks’ close friend, actor Charlie Chaplin was selected to deliver the eulogy. Doug, Jr., who was touring South America at the time, could not return in time for the service. The simple ceremony was attended by 1,500 persons, including many of Fairbanks’ friends.

 

Fairbanks’ widow, the former Lady Sylvia Ashley, adorned in a white dress and veil, arrived at the ceremony with Chaplin, Robert Fairbanks (Douglas’ brother), Mrs. Fred Astaire and her sister, Mrs. Basil Bleck. Mrs. Fairbanks sat with the group in the first row of seats nearest the sarcophagus. Behind her were Norma Shearer and Kay Francis.

 

After the opening prayers by the Rev. Neal  Dodd, pastor of St. Mary’s of the Angeles Episcopal Church, the widow placed her bouquet in the as yet unsealed end of the marble sarcophagus. Then, with trembling hands, she drew the cord unveiling the inscription and bas relief bust of her husband.

 

Chaplin’s eulogy was brief.

 

“We are gathered here to pay tribute to the one who might well be termed a great man. To name him thus would have brought incredulous laughter to his lips. That he was even a great artist he would have been the first to deny. Yet this modesty was but another facet of his greatness, and there were many facets.

 

His was a happy life. His rewards were great, his joys many. Now he pillows his head upon his arms, sighs deeply – and sleeps.

 

To the youth of a decade ago he was the epitome of knightly courage and romance… And as he worshiped heroes, so too did he worship those qualities a hero should possess.”

 

Relating Fairbanks’ versatility, Chaplin praised him most as the “eternal boy” – always fresh in viewpoint and interested in what each day would bring. Chaplin concluded with the inscription from Hamlet chiseled on the marble sarcophagus:

 

 

“Good night, sweet prince, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.”

 

 

As he spoke, Fairbanks’ widow wept as she sat on the marble bench behind the sarcophagus.

 

Following Chaplin’s eulogy, Rev. Dodd read the memorial rites as Fairbanks copper casket was placed in the sarcophagus and the end was sealed.

 

In the section reserved for friends and family were the actors nieces: Shirley Burden, Mrs. Henri Chappellet, Mrs. Owen Crump and Leticia Fairbanks.

 

Other celebrities at the ceremony included Fred Astaire, Joseph Schenck, Randolph Scott, Bull Montana, Ruth Rennick, Richard Barthelmess, Daryl Zanuck and many more friends of Fairbanks.

 

Following the ceremony the crowd was permitted to file past the marble-columned memorial which faced a tree-lined reflection pool.

 

 

Fifty-nine years later, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. was laid to rest along with his father in the sarcophagus.

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This photo was taken in the mid 1990s before the Cassity family bought the cemetery and it was in bankruptcy. El Nino ravaged Southern California that year, including the Fairbanks Memorial.

 

TRIVIA: For years there was a rectangular opening approximately one inch wide on the east side of the sarcophagus in which you could look in and see the top of Fairbanks copper casket. Over the years people tossed coins on top of the casket that remained there until Doug Jr. was interred with his father. Today that opening is still there.

 

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Fight Over Mary Pickford’s Oscars…

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Dec 3rd, 2008
2008
Dec 3

Trial over Mary Pickford’s Oscars opens in L.A.

 

 

Academy hopes to prevent heirs from selling the famous statuettes

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The Associated Press
Wed., Dec. 3, 2008
.

LOS ANGELES – Jurors deciding the fate of Oscars awarded to silent film star Mary Pickford were treated during the trial’s opening Wednesday to a taste of Hollywood, complete with props, fancy visuals and a little intrigue.

 

Pickford was part of early Hollywood’s royalty and a founding member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which presented her two Academy Awards over her lifetime.

 

Heirs of a woman married to Pickford’s third husband, actor and band leader Buddy Rogers, hope to sell a statuette given to the actress for her performance in 1929’s Coquette. They claim their mother, Beverly Rogers, wanted the Oscar sold and the money donated to charity.

 

They also claim they are not bound to academy restrictions barring the sale of honorary Oscars awarded later to Pickford and Rogers.

 

But the academy has sued to stop any sale, claiming that Pickford agreed to rules allowing the organization to purchase the award back for $10. They say they are trying to protect their most important symbol.

 

Just in case anyone needed a reminder what that is, academy lawyers had placed a pair of Oscar statuettes on a table, the little gold men directly facing the jury box.

 

To explain the case — and Pickford’s importance to a jury comprised mostly of people too young to remember her work — Wednesday’s opening statements featured a lengthy biography of the actress known as “America’s Sweetheart.”

 

Brangelina of early Hollywood


Before her marriage to Rogers, Pickford was the wife of Douglas Fairbanks, an influential actor, director and producer.

 

Academy attorney Chris Tayback likened the pair to a contemporary power couple. “They were comparable to Brad and Angelina,” Tayback said.

 

To help jurors follow the story of Pickford’s life and the journey of her Oscars, Tayback displayed photos of the actress, images of documents with highlighted passages and even a timeline onto a large screen near jurors. He also played the complete presentation of an honorary Oscar given to Pickford in 1976 in her lavish Beverly Hills home, which was a wedding gift from Fairbanks.

 

It was that award — and a signature attributed to Pickford on a document agreeing not to sell any of her Oscars — that the academy claims gives it the right to block any sale.

 

Attorneys for Rogers’ heirs said Wednesday that they will introduce testimony casting doubt on whether Pickford signed that agreement, and contend that Rogers’ heirs aren’t bound to it anyway because they’re not heirs to Pickford’s estate.

 

Besides, attorney Mark Passin told jurors, the agreement was signed after the 1976 Oscar was given to Pickford. “She already owned the statuette,” he said, adding his contention that made the agreement “unenforceable.”

 

Passin said Pickford would have likely approved of selling her best-actress Oscar and donating the proceeds to charity.

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An Extra’s Story…

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Oct 2nd, 2008
2008
Oct 2

One day as a screen star

 

 

 

An extra tells of rise to fame in twenty-four hours for $5 on lot with Doug in “Thief of Bagdad”

 

By G. A. E. Panter, 1923

 

We are all potential screen stars! At 9 a.m.  we saw the following “ad” in the morning paper: “For Douglas Fairbanks company, 2,500 men, 25-50.” Let’s go! We Went! At 10 a.m. we lined up with some 500 other aspirants for screen fame, in the rear of an old building. An hour later we emerged, the proud possessor of a ticket entitling us to a day’s work — salary $5, less 35 cents commission and 10 cents car fare. Also informing us that we had to be at the depot at 4 a.m. the following day.

 

We work nights. So, after two hours’ sleep and a good breakfast at 3 a.m., we hiked into town and found the crowd already assembling. A small cafe adjoining was literally swamped, but an enterprising, if unduly optimistic, newsboy did not meet with such success.

 

ON OUR WAY

 

Finally, after much jostling, accompanied by such remarks as: “Let me get my own hands in my pockets!” we achieved standing room in one of the cars provided. After a ride of twenty minutes we arrived at the studios, outside which, on a vacant lot, the earlier arrivals had kindled fires.

 

About 6 a.m. we commenced to file into the sacred inclosure, where we were allotted to Co. Z and filed past a window labeled “White Soldiers,” where we each drew a black and white striped helmet surmounted by a crescent and spike, a webbing collarette and belt covered with tin disks the size of a dollar, a pair of very baggy trousers and moccasins.

 

With these we repaired to a tent where we dressed, rather undressed, and emerged shivering into the raw morning air. We were then formed up in file behind a leader who carried a board bearing our company letter and marshaled by a guide wearing a black gown similar to those worn by university graduates. We proceeded to draw our weapons, consisting of a long bow and wooden quiver of arrows, then on to the set.

 

 

Aerial view of The Thief of Bagdad set

 

ON THE SET

 

A truly magnificent representation of old Bagdad with gateways, turrets, domes and minarets, quaint balconies and embrasures hung with rugs and bannerets. Company after company was marched up, dismissed and told to mingle with the crowd, forming a glittering, kaleidoscopic mass.

 

In front was a contrivance which aroused much curious comment. It resembled a long, slender girder of steel lattice work, one end being pivoted to a platform and at the other end were attached two small wodden structures. The girder was soon raised like the arm of a crane. The small wooden structures held the director and cameramen and slung from the top was the magic carpet, which appeared to be floating in the air over our heads. It was supported by a number of practically invisible steel wires.

 

Doug and his leading lady took their places on the the carpet and were hoisted into the air on a level with the cameras. The beam then swung out over our heads and the crowd “went mad” in the most approved style, incited thereto by numerous assistant directors armed with megaphones.

 

The idea of movement was greatly enhanced by a draught from two wind machines which fluttered the pennons and bannerets attached to the pikes.

 

Fairbanks on the set

 

MUCH BADINAGE

 

In the intervals of waiting between shots, Doug and his assistants were subjected to a crossfire of badinage by the crowd, all of which was taken in good part, although the directors had difficulty in making themselves heard. Every vantage point on the buildings forming the background was filled with men and women wearing gorgeous eastern robes.

 

The sun was now well up, despite the season hot enough to scorch the skin. How comic the other fellow looked. Fortunately no mirrors were provided, so we all kept the illusion that we were sheiks and the ladies on the balconies our dark-eyed fatima’s.

 

That the crowd was getting hungry was evinced by shouts of “When do we eat?” About 12:30 p.m. we were given a box lunch consisting of sandwiches, cake, chip potatoes, pie, fruit and bottle of milk. If the crowd was a trifle lethargic afterward — well the lunch was fine.

 

Our extra, Mr. Panter, is one of the soldiers at the top of this photo

 

After lunch, the white soldiers, after being painted terra cotta, were marched and countermarched through cheering throngs that, perhaps, had a trifle the best of the bargain! Finally, Doug, on a gaily caparisoned charger, headed the troops in a final triumphant march through cheering throngs right up to the cameramen, who, after showing the NG sign a few times, finally gave the O.K. and the day’s work was finished.

  

At 4 p.m., having handed in our costumes and accouterments, and obtained the final signature on our checks, we found ourselves once more outside the magic circle and free to return to our homes and  a much-needed bath.

 

I once played opposite Douglas Fairbanks in The Thief of Bagdad. Yes, we earned that five.

 

— Source: Los Angeles Times, November 25, 1923

 

The Thief of Bagdad premiere at the Egyptian theater

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Pickfair for Sale…

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Sep 10th, 2008
2008
Sep 10

CELEBRITY REAL ESTATE 

Historic Pickfair Estate in Beverly Hills Hits Market

 

September 9, 2008,
by Marissa Gluck

 

A veritable bargain compared to the Spelling residence, historic property Pickfair has hit the market. The estate once owned by actors Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks, and designed by architect Wallace Neff, is for sale in Beverly Hills. Of course, this isn’t the original Pickfair, since Pia Zadora and her husband tore down the original Neff mansion in the 1980s and put up a larger mansion in its place. The estate is now owned by Unicom Systems (sale price: $15 million in 2005 according to property records, $17.65 million according to Real Estalker,) and apparently is once again in need of restoration according to the listing. In addition to the 17-bedroom, 30-bath estate, the sellers will also negotiate to sell the art and sculptures and “would consider exchange for commercial property, business or other.” Listing price: $60 million.  — 1143 Summit Dr Beverly Hills, CA 90210

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Reginald “Snowy” Baker at Hollywood Forever…

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Aug 10th, 2008
2008
Aug 10

OLYMPICS SPECIAL

 

HOLLYWOOD FOREVER CEMETERY

Reginald “Snowy” Baker

 

 

AUSTRALIAN OLYMPIAN

 

BORN: February 8, 1884, Surry Hills, Syndey, Australia

DIED: December 2, 1953, Hollywood, California

CAUSE OF DEATH: Cerebro-vascular disease

BURIAL: Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Colonnade, North Wall, T-3, N-11

 

By Allan R. Ellenberger

 

Reginald Leslie “Snowy” Baker was arguably Australia’s greatest all-round athlete. Called “Snowy” from childhood because of his very blond hair, he first gained international fame when he represented Australia in boxing at the Olympic Games in London in 1908. He also was an expert equestrian, footballer, wrestler, fencer, swimmer and diver. His other sports included water polo, sailing, soccer and Rugby.

 

He remains the only Australian to have represented the nation in three separate sports at the Olympic Games, and he played rugby union for Australia against the touring Great Britain team in 1904. In Australia he was a member of the famed Sydney Lancers, a military riding group.

 

At the London 1908 Olympics, Baker competed in the boxing, swimming and springboard diving, winning a Silver Medal in the middleweight boxing division after losing narrowly on points in a hard-fought encounter with Britain’s J.W.H.T. (“Johnny Won’t Hit Today”) Douglas. Baker’s Olympic boxing performance has been matched by only one other Australian – light-welterweight Grahame ‘Spike’ Cheney, who won silver in Seoul in 1988.

 

Baker and his wife came to the United States in 1920 and he became a friend of Douglas Fairbanks Sr., appearing in fourteen films and producing three of them. He was an expert boomerang thrower and bullwhip cracker, reportedly teaching the art to actor Lash LaRue. He at one time owned a string of ponies and taught many Hollywood celebrities the art of polo.

 

Baker had a varied post-Olympic career, most notably as a boxing referee, boxing promoter, entrepreneur, writer, actor, film-maker, and Hollywood stuntman. He performed stunts in the film National Velvet (1944) and reportedly taught Elizabeth Taylor how to ride a horse.

 

He was instrumental in creating the polo fields at the Riviera Country Club (Pacific Palisades) and became a director and major operating partner there for at least two decades. During the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles, he was both Australia’s team attaché and a perceptive correspondent for the Sydney Referee

 

In 1951, Baker became ill and died two years later at age 69 of cerebro-vascular disease at his home at 226 N. Irving Boulevard. He was cremated and interred at Hollywood Cemetery. ‘Snowy’ Baker was survived by his wife Ethel and a step-daughter.

 

 

Reginald “Snowy” Bakers cremation urn at Hollywood Forever

 

 

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