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The BBC's Nick Higham
"He was a swashbuckling, romantic, Hollywood lead"
 real 28k

Sunday, 7 May, 2000, 17:41 GMT 18:41 UK
Swashbuckling Fairbanks Jnr dies
Fairbanks with his third wife Vera
Three weddings: Fairbanks with his third wife Vera
The rakishly handsome actor Douglas Fairbanks Junior has died in New York at the age of 90.

His death was confirmed by a spokesman for the Frank E Campbell funeral home in New York, who did not disclose the cause of death.

Fairbanks was one of the most famous names in Hollywood, and became the friend and confidant of royalty and statesmen.

His movie career began at the age of 13 and he was fired after one film.

But he went on to star as the handsome, romantic lead in a series of films, including Catherine the Great, The Prisoner of Zenda and Gunga Din.

Hollywood royalty


Fairbanks had a way with women
Fairbanks had a way with women
Off-screen Douglas Fairbanks oozed charm, but he led a more complex life than the characters he played.

The son of silent film star Douglas Fairbanks and his first wife, Anna Beth Sully, he was born in New York in 1909.

He turned out to have a way with women. The first of his three wives was the film star Joan Crawford. The marriage ended after four years.

'Headless man'

Much later he was identified as the so-called headless man pictured naked with the Duchess of Argyll in photographs which emerged at her sensational divorce trial in 1963. He always denied it.

During the Second World War, he served as commando officer and was decorated for bravery. Afterwards, he entered business and helped raise millions of dollars for charity.

Fairbanks was born in New York, but became a dedicated Anglophile, with a London home where he entertained the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh.

In 1949 he was made an Honorary Knight of the British Empire for his work on behalf of Anglo-American relations. Even at the end of his long life, he was still known as Douglas Fairbanks Junior, because of his famous film star father of the same name.

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