Sunday, January 30, 2011

Ziegfeld Girls VI

Some film-goers may recognize Madeline and Marion Fairbanks because they did appear in a few films for the Thanhouser Film Company. But, they were also members of the Follies. The big draw was that the girls were identical twins which has been a big entertainment draw since the days of Shakespeare! Twins and midgets = fun apparently. The Follies were blessed with two sets of twins...the Dolly sisters and the Fairbanks sisters.

The girls were born November 15, 1900 in New York. Their mother Jennie was an actress and their father, Nathaniel (I believe this to be his name, considering that he was named after his father). They joined older brother Robert.

They followed in their mother's footsteps and made their stage debut in 1909 alongside stage star, Nora Bayes.

In 1910, the girls signed with the Biograph film company but left after two years to sign with Thanhouser. There, they were dubbed the "Thanhouser Twins." They were not two girls with one mind though, because they shared different career goals. Marion wanted to be a serious actress, while Madeline wanted to venture into comedies. They also didn't appear in films together all the time, they made separate film appearances.

It is interesting how the Fairbanks's career worked backwards in the sense that they appeared in films first before heading to the Ziegfeld Follies. They appeared in the 1917, 1918, 1919, and 1921 edition of the Follies and also in the 1920 edition of the Midnight Frolic.

The girls eventually switched their career aspirations. Madeline set her sights on my dramatic roles while Marion enjoyed staying in musicals. The separation didn't last long, and about a year later they began to perform together again in The George White Scandals. They also appeared in various stage shows and revues up until the 1930s.

When the talkies arrived, the girls career stalled. Marion continued to appear in stage shows before eventually retiring and opening a beauty parlor. She also struggled with this new lifestyle and had a brief problem with alcohol addiction.

Marion Fairbanks passed away on September 20, 1973. She had been married three times. First to McCormick Steele in 1927, then to Ray Smith, and finally to William Delph. I am pretty sure she was still married to Delph at the time of her death. She never had any children.

Madeline Fairbanks passed away on January 15, 1989 of respiratory failure. Madeline was married for a time to a man named Leonard Sherman in 1937, but the marriage ended in divorce in 1947. They had a daughter named Kate.

No comments:

Post a Comment