US actor and television producer. Apart from his work in the theatre and in films, Fairbanks has led an active business life and has taken part in several public service missions for the USA, such as his mission to Latin America (1940–41) as presidential envoy. He was appointed an honorary KBE (1949) and is also an Officier de la Légion d'honneur.
Son of silent film star Douglas Fairbanks and his first wife Anna Beth Sully, Fairbanks Jr was born in New York City and made his screen debut in Party Girl (1920). He combined stage appearances and film making in both the USA and England; during the thirties he made such films as Dawn Patrol (1930), Outward Bound (1930), Catherine the Great (1934), and the highly acclaimed The Prisoner of Zenda (1937), playing Rupert of Hentzau. Noteworthy, too, were The Young in Heart (1938), Gunga Din (1939), Sinbad the Sailor (1947), and State Secret (1950).
During World War II he saw service with the US navy and was awarded the DSC as well as the Croix de Guerre. In the fifties and sixties Fairbanks lived in Britain, where he produced Chase a Crooked Shadow (1958) and appeared in his longrunning television series Douglas Fairbanks Presents. Later he and his second wife returned to the USA. His first wife was Joan Crawford. Present Laughter and Sleuth are among his more recent performances in the theatre. He has also produced over 160 plays for television. He published an autobiography, Salad Days, in 1988.
Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).