Book Review: “The Fourth Musketeer,” by Letitia Fairbanks and Ralph Hancock, edited by Kelley Smoot, 2019

It is said that American royalty is made up of the larger-than-life entertainers that dominate our popular culture. They are said to represent our ideals, influence our appearances, and even live in castle-like homes where they are often seen as untouchable. The reign of the American movie star was on the rise in the ever-growing movie industry of the early twentieth century and by the 1920s, Hollywood had its first King and Queen. At the head of the throne were the newly married Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford. The Fourth Musketeer, by Letitia Fairbanks and Ralph Hancock and edited by Kelley Smoot, takes readers on a journey through the life of Hollywood’s first king, Douglas Fairbanks, through the eyes of his niece.

One of the most appealing aspects of The Fourth Musketeer is its approach to telling Fairbanks’ life story. It’s not written like a traditional biography but is instead written more like a story with characters, conversations, and plenty of adventure. Letitia breathes life into the revered public hero by celebrating his exceptionality while still reminding us of his more human side. Even Douglas Fairbanks had flaws that were masked by his youthful, vigorous, can-do approach to life. The very same traits that made him a star. Letitia captures all sides of Fairbanks by conveying stories from his childhood, providing glimpses into the interesting characters that shaped him along the way, and allowing readers to discover who he was behind-the-scenes of his illustrious career. Highlights include first-hand accounts about how Fairbanks met his true love, Mary Pickford, and how he met his lifelong friend, Charlie Chaplin.

Originally published in 1953, the newest edition of The Fourth Musketeer has been taken to the next level by Kelley Smoot, daughter of Letitia Fairbanks. Numerous rarely seen photographs that create visuals to go along with the text have been added, many coming from archival collections and family archives. In addition, Smoot’s carefully researched photo captions provide even greater insight into the already rich history of Fairbanks’ life and career. Her contributions to the book are reason enough to add The Fourth Musketeer to your must-read list. Smoot has also re-packaged the book in a new sleek design with an iconic image of Fairbanks sitting atop a roof with his bow and arrow like a modern day Robin Hood on the front cover, making it a great book to add to your coffee table or shelf display. Smoot also added a wonderful introduction by Fairbanks’ great-grandson, Dominick Fairbanks, and a foreward by Eileen Whitfield. Smoot’s dedication to keeping the Fairbanks legacy alive is truly admirable.

If you are a Douglas Fairbanks fan, The Fourth Musketeer is a must-have. It truly is the closest we will ever get to an autobiography of the great actor. But this book is for a much wider audience than already established fans of Fairbanks. If you love Hollywood history, silent film, romance, and adventure, then you, too, will enjoy The Fourth Musketeer. As the book shows us, no matter how much time may pass, there will never be another Douglas Fairbanks.


Book arrives February 1, 2019!

Very special thanks to Kelley Smoot for asking me to review the book and allowing me an advance copy. I am honored to be able to do my part in spreading the word about all-things Fairbanks.


Pre-Order The Fourth Musketeer:


Barnes and Noble


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Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. on TCM, Filmstruck, and Other News

It’s been way too long since my last update but I’ve been working on some exciting new ideas for my blog! I will have it up and running with regular posts once again and couldn’t be more thrilled.

Starting in January I am beginning two regular blog series. One that will involve going through Fairbanks, Jr.’s filmography in chronological order and another in which I will be sharing glimpses into my Fairbanks collection with tips and tricks for preservation and archiving of collectibles. I am also looking forward to getting back into blogathons!

Until then, be sure to check out these upcoming Fairbanks films on Turner Classic Movies and Filmstruck!

Turner Classic Movies

Flight Commander / Dawn Patrol (1930)

October 24 @ 6:30am (CST)

Little Caesar (1930)

November 5 @ 7:00pm (CST)

Mary Pickford: Muse of the Movies (2008)

November 7 @ 11:45am (CST)

Gunga Din (1939)

November 23 @ 3:00pm (CST)


For Filmstruck subscribers, be sure to check out the following Fairbanks movies currently streaming!

Morning Glory: The Rise of Katharine Hepburn

Eva Lovelace wants nothing more than to be a stage actress. And not just any stage actress, she wants to be a GREAT stage actress. One of the great stage actors in rank with the Barrymores and the Booths. She waltz’s past their portraits, admiring them and dreaming of her own future as a star. She soon discovers that this pursuit might not be as easy as she had hoped and nearly loses it all trying to get there. But like any good Katharine Hepburn character, Eva Lovelace fights for what she wants until she gets it. And in many ways, Eva and Katharine are one in the same.

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Gunga Din: An Adventure in Friendship

The year 1939 was undoubtedly a big year in movie history. Movies such as Gone With the WindThe Wizard of OzStagecoachMr. Smith Goes to Washington, and Ninotchka, premiered in 1939 and continue to be talked about nearly eight decades later. But there’s another movie that came out that year. A timeless swashbuckler that takes you on an journey you’ll never forget and one that has also stood the test of time. Of course, I am referring to the swashbuckling adventure of Gunga Din.

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The Tragedy of Little Annie Rooney

I am not a crier. I am intensely passionate, easily moved, deeply emotional, and perceptive but I am not a crier. However there is one thing that has always been able to pull the tears out of me and that is art. And film is one of the arts that can start the waterworks for me. And it often does. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a sad scene or a tragic story to draw a tear. Sometimes it’s simply the beauty of a film or a joyful or triumphant moment in a story.

When I sat down to think about what film I wanted to cover for this blogathon I thought of several movies that make me cry no matter how many times I’ve seen them. I thought of It’s a Wonderful Life, Imitation of Life, Titanic, and even The Lion King. But there was another movie that came to mind that I recently watched and had a good cry over. But it may not be anything you would expect.

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