Friend, colleague, and fellow “I Am Dandy” sitter G. Bruce Boyer herein recounts a lesser-known anecdote about the stupendously dapper Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. (with whom Boyer was privileged to lunch late in Fairbanks’ life). When “finnished” with the story, head over to Keikari.com, Finland’s leading menswear site, where there’s an extensive new interview with Boyer.
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I’ve written about Douglas Fairbanks Jr. before — about his being a great dandy, as an actor, and his affair in the so-called “headless man” scandal, which involved the Duchess of Argyle. He was a great dresser, as could easily be seen when his wardrobe was auctioned off a couple of years ago. Like his father, he favored Savile Row tailors and shirtmakers.
He wasn’t a bad actor, his first foray into the art (as Edward G. Robinson’s partner-in-crime in “Little Caesar”), showed great promise. It was unfortunately unfulfilled, and Fairbanks turned to producing as a film career.
I’d thought I’d read most of what was written about him, knew most of the stories. But recently, while reading the new book about Orson Welles, “My Lunches with Orson: Conversations Between Henry Jaglom and Orson Welles,” I came across a new one.
Apparently Alexander Korda, British film producer of such classics as “The Private Life of Henry VIII” and “That Hamilton Woman,” found Fairbanks a terrible snob and, even worse, a bore. So when they met one day, they merely exchanged banter about the weather. Then there was a drawn-out moment of silence, which Korda finally broke by asking, “Tell me, how’s the Duke?” And Fairbanks replied, “Which duke?” And Korda says, “Any bloody duke.” — G. BRUCE BOYER