In 1930, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. told The New Movie Magazine the story of the life-changing moment that he realized he wanted to break free of the Fairbanks name.
He was 16 years old and attending the Olympic Games in Paris. He decided to sit in an area with the Olympic athletes, where he did not belong. One of the other athletes called Fairbanks out when it became evident that there were no seats left and Fairbanks was the only non-athlete in the section. He argued that Fairbanks’ name did not entitle him to a seat.
The incident forced Fairbanks to start thinking about things differently. He explained how to interviewer, Dick Hyland:
You know, up until that time I had been only dad’s son. I had not done a thing by myself important enough to take credit for it. Yet I was invited a lot to places by people I hardly knew. I know now that the only reason they did was because of my name, not because of me – Doug, Junior.
The more I thought about what that big fellow had said the more I knew he was right. And then pride, or something, stepped in and I made up my mind that I was going to do something for myself. That I was not going to be Dad’s son and nothing else.
It’s been far from easy.
By the 1930s, Fairbanks had established himself as his own man and was starring in roles that were different from those of his father. This interview was done as promotion for his highly praised role in The Dawn Patrol.
Dick Hyland, “Me – Doug, Junior: In the Old Days he was Just Doug Fairbanks’ Son, but in Six Years he has Won a Place in his Own Name,” The New Movie Magazine, September 1930, pp. 38-39, 130, 132.
Courtesy of the Media History Digital Library.