Today’s film stars and TV stars fear one thing in the entertainment industry. Typecasting. For those of you that may be unaware of this term, Typecasting is the process by which an actor is strongly identified with a role, several similar roles, or a particular genre.
George Reeves quickly comes to mind, as he had played Superman on TV and became such a big name with that role it was difficult for him to find work doing anything else after that.
Many people when they think of the famous actor Douglas Fairbanks Sr., they right away think of swashbuckler. As many of his his most famous roles were that of swashbucklers.
But this was not always the case.By the age of 18, Fairbanks was appearing on stage with much success, but the lure and excitement of silent films soon took hold and he was making films. By 1918 he had appeared in more than 24 films. Fairbanks became the top moneymaker for the Triangle Film Company, starring in an average of 10 pictures a year for a weekly salary of $2000. He then specialized in comedies–not the slapstick variety, but free-wheeling farces in which he usually played a wealthy young man thirsting for adventure.
Fairbanks was a savvy businessman, and in 1919 he reasoned that he could have more control–and a larger slice of the profits — if he produced as well as starred in his pictures. In 1919, Fairbanks teamed up with fellow stars Charlie Chaplin and Mary Pickford and director D.W. Griffith to launch the United Artists Corporation.
The next year on November 28, 1920 The Mask of Zorro opens, starring Douglas Fairbanks, this was the first time he played a swashbuckling adventurer. After Zorro he became best known for his swashbuckling adventure films, including The Three Musketeers (1921), Robin Hood (1922), and The Thief of Baghdad (1924). Unlike many other early stars, Fairbanks successfully made the transition to talkies, but his career faded as he aged. Fairbanks’ last film, the British-made Private Life of Don Juan (1934) unflattering revealed his advanced years and his flagging energy. On December 12, 1939, Fairbanks died in his sleep, not long after he’d announced plans to come out of retirement.