Posts Tagged ‘Douglas Fairbanks’

The Story of Chaplin’s Walk of Fame Star

Saturday, November 20th, 2010

HOLLYWOOD HISTORY

A Star is Born — Charlie Chaplin’s

 

 

 

 

By Allan R. Ellenberger

 

This year marks the 5oth anniversary of the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The idea for the Walk of Fame, which is world famous, goes back to 1953 when E. M. Stuart, who served as the volunteer president of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce proposed the idea. Stuart described the Walk as a means to “maintain the glory of a community whose name means glamour and excitement in the four corners of the world.” A committee was appointed to begin fleshing out the idea. In 1960, 1,550 honorees were selected by committees representing the four branches of the entertainment industry at that time, and were laid out on the sidewalks of Hollywood Boulevard and two blocks of Vine Street – everyone that is, except for comedian Charlie Chaplin.

 

Chaplin’s name was in the original list nominated for inclusion in the walk back in 1956, but Hollywood property owners objected to Chaplin, charging his moral and leftwing leanings tended to discredit him and the entertainment industry. His star was not included.

 

In 1952 Chaplin had left Hollywood on a visit to England and while aboard ship in the Atlantic, was notified that his reentry permit had been revoked. Atty. Gen. James P. McGranery said the action had been prompted by “public charges” associating Chaplin with communism and “grave moral charges.” The comedian would have to appear at a hearing to prove his “moral worth” before he could return. Chaplin, who was still a British subject, declined to go through such a hearing. “Since the end of the last world war,” Chaplin said, “I have been the object of lies and propaganda by powerful reactionary groups who, by their influence and by the aid of America’s yellow press, have created an unhealthy atmosphere in which liberal-minded individuals can be singled out and persecuted. Under these conditions I find it virtually impossible to continue my motion-picture work, and I have therefore given up my residence in the United States.” Chaplin and his family moved to a mansion overlooking Lake Geneva near the Swiss village of Vevey.

 

That government ruling was widely and correctly interpreted as a shabby cover to bar Chaplin from the country for political reasons. While he never belonged to a political party, he was sympathetic to liberal and some radical causes. Worse, he was outspoken. And some of his films, which ridiculed aspects of American society, were denounced as “left-wing propaganda.”

 

In August 1960, a superior court judge refused to issue an order compelling the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and the Hollywood Improvement Association to show cause why they should not be directed to include Chaplin’s name on the Walk of Fame. The court acted on a petition filed by Charles Chaplin, Jr., who contended that omission of his father’s name from the Hollywood Boulevard sidewalk project was malicious. Chaplin Jr. himself demanded $400,000 damages on the complaint that the decision of the two Hollywood organizations libeled him and injured his career. His suit was eventually dismissed.

 

After the reentry prohibition against Chaplin was dropped years later, the actor remained in Switzerland. As the years passed, both Chaplin and the times changed and, in an interview in London in 1962, he said: “What happened to me, I can’t condemn or criticize the country for that. There are many admirable things about American and its system, too. I have no ill feelings. I carry no hate. My only enemy is time.”

 

By the early days of 1972, the officials, including an attorney general of the United States, who were outraged at Chaplin’s radically-tinged politics, were now gone. It was rumored that Chaplin would return to the United States for the first time in twenty years to receive a special Academy Award voted to him. If Chaplin decided to return, he would have to apply to the U.S. Consulate in Geneva for an immigrant or nonimmigrant visa. The U.S. State Department would then rule on the application.

 

Possibly because of Chaplin’s promising return, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce’s Executive Committee voted on whether to approve a star for the actor and voted 5 to 4 against it. After that vote, Chamber president, A. Ronald Button ordered an advisory poll of chamber membership that responded 3 to 1 in favor of installing a Chaplin star. Based on that, the Chambers directors went against their Executive Committees recommendation and voted 30 to 3 in favor of adding Chaplin’s name to the sidewalk honor. The decision still had to be approved by the Los Angeles City Council, but Button said it had always approved the directors’ recommendations in the past. “I can’t imagine them opposing the star,” he said. Eventually the city council approved Chaplin’s star, 11 to 3. The three dissenting councilmen never spoke publicly in opposition, but privately complained that since the comedian earned his money here he should not have left the country to live in Switzerland.

 

 

At the time there were eighty names previously approved that had not yet been inserted because the funds were not available. This was before the days when a star had to be paid for by fans. Instead each star’s installation was funded by the Chamber which, at the time, cost between $900 and $1,000. However, one unnamed board member offered to pay for the installation of Chaplin’s star. At that time it was not known where or when the installation would take place.

 

Soon it was announced that after an exile of two decades, Chaplin would return to the United States and be honored with a special award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Before leaving Switzerland for New York, Chaplin received anonymous death threats, most by telephone saying they were going to kill him. “He expected to be shot over here,” said William Jordan, whose private detective firm was hired by the Academy to guard Chaplin during his four-day visit to Los Angeles. “That was his line. He said, ‘They killed Mr. Kennedy.’ I can’t give you the exact number but there were at least a dozen. They were coming into the Music Center – site of the Oscar presentation – and they called his hotel.” Sometimes they specified they were going to blow him up or shoot him. Sometimes they didn’t specify how it would be done.

 

On April 7, 1972, the 82 year-old Chaplin and his wife Oona arrived at Los Angeles International Airport. Photographers, cameramen and reporters lined a walkway that extended from the plane to a waiting car. Finally, after a quick flurry of activity, Chaplin appeared at the top of the terminal stairs. He was short, almost portly. His white hair was wispy in the breeze. As he reached the base of the stairs he looked up and smiled at the row of waiting reporters. There were no cheers, no applause. He waved, and his words were barely audible. “How does it feel to be back, Mr. Chaplin?” a reporter asked. “Very strange,” was his reply.

 

 

Oona and Charles Chaplin on their arrival in Los Angeles in 1972

 

 

Only two representatives from Hollywood awaited him at the end of the walkway – Daniel Taradash, president of the Academy and Howard W. Koch, a member of the board of governors and the Academy’s treasurer. “This is the happiest moment in the history of Hollywood,” Taradash told Chaplin. The comedian, perhaps unable to hear amidst the commotion, shook his hand but reportedly said nothing. Chaplin was taken to the Beverly Hills Hotel, passing Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios in Culver City and 20th Century-Fox en route. His car did not stop or slow down. Chaplin made no public appearances, interviews or tours while he was in Los Angeles and turned down many of the private invitations he received.

 

During Chaplin’s arrival that morning, a statue of him was unveiled at the Hollywood Visitors and Information Center at Hollywood and Vine to commemorate his return. Almost immediately bomb threats and complaints poured in forcing the removal of the statue the following day to the Artisan’s Patio at 6727 Hollywood Boulevard, where it went on public display. Letters from across the country were received expressing bitterness towards Chaplin and Hollywood’s welcome after twenty years. “I am tired, tired to death of these insane Revolutionary Zionists of which Charlie Chaplin is one of the very worst,” wrote one critic. There were several defenders – by far the minority – among the letter writers, and one expressed a common sentiment: “His political beliefs of whatever persuasion should not be allowed to obscure his comic genius.”

 

Threats were also leveled at the dedication of Chaplin’s Walk of Fame bronze star ceremony which was scheduled for the following Monday morning – the same day Chaplin would receive his special Oscar. Anonymous telephone threats that the star would be ripped up or defaced were received. One letter writer said: “The only star I would give Charlie Chaplin is a red star… I am against putting Chaplin’s name on any of our streets. He never donated a dime or time to anything in America. I say don’t let him enter these United States again. Russians can have him with my compliments.”

 

The following Monday morning, fans and several armed guards, gathered at the northwest corner of Hollywood Boulevard and McCadden Place as the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce officials uttered words of benediction over Chaplin’s star. Chaplin’s 12 year-old granddaughter, Susan Maree Chaplin, unveiled the star in her famous grandfather’s absence. The dedication ceremony was attended by many Hollywood oddities including “Alice of Hollyweird,” with her singing dogs; Albert Ciremele, a Chaplin impersonator, and “Aunt Pollu,” sweeping up the street with a gold-speckled mop. Also attending were several Keystone Cops, only one of whom, Eddie LeVeque, was an original. In the crowd were several old, white-haired women passing out a sheet of paper purporting to show “Charlie Chaplin’s Red Record.” To anyone who would listen, they would rail on about Chaplin’s political philosophy.

 

The Chamber of Commerce hired private detectives to guard Chaplin’s star until the actor returned to Switzerland. One guard commented that some person’s walking by had made derogatory remarks but “most of the people are pro-Chaplin.”

 

 

 

Charlie Chaplin’s Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (above and below) as it looks today at 6755 Hollywood Boulevard

 

 

 

That evening, Chaplin and Oona were accompanied by private bodyguards and driven to the Music Center where he received his special Oscar for “the incalculable effect he has had in making motion pictures the art form of this century.” Stepping onto the stage of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Chaplin received the longest standing ovation in Academy Award history, lasting a full five minutes. Filled with emotion, Chaplin told the captivated audience: “Oh, thank you so much. This is an emotional moment for me, and words seem so futile, so feeble. I can only say that… thank you for the honor of inviting me here, and, oh, you’re wonderful, sweet people. Thank you.”

 

 

Chaplin after accepting his honorary Oscar

 

 

Before he returned home to Switzerland, Chaplin met with Tim Durant, an old friend, confidant, roommate and sportsman. According to Durant, Chaplin was bewildered by the Los Angeles he came back to as an old, uncertain, rheumy-eyed man. Chaplin would look out, but didn’t seem to recognize the beaches at Santa Monica, where in the old days Marion Davies would hire a bus and run down to the beach at night and light a fire and hunt grunion with Charlie and Douglas Fairbanks and Rudolph Valentino till dawn. One day he turned to Durant to shake his hand, and tears came to his eyes. “Tim, we were pals, weren’t we?” Chaplin asked. “And we did have fun, didn’t we? And it’s all gone now, isn’t it?”

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Douglas Fairbanks last will and testament

Friday, July 9th, 2010

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…

Saturday, February 7th, 2009

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…

Friday, December 12th, 2008

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…

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008

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
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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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Pickfair for Sale…

Wednesday, September 10th, 2008

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…

Sunday, August 10th, 2008

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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