“You can talk about your stars and their talents … but Douglas Fairbanks had something none of the rest ever possessed. It was a combination of good manners, looks, athletic skill, and extroverted charm. Doug loved everybody, and his infectious grin and easy way made everybody love him.”
So wrote Hedda Hopper in her 1952 autobiography From Under My Hat. (Examples of other stars and their talents cited by La Hopper: “Jack Gilbert’s poetic love-making, Wally Reid’s boyishness.” It’s a one-of-a-kind book.) The man crowned King of Hollywood and the movies’ first great action hero – he played Zorro, Robin Hood, D’Artagnan – deserved to have a cocktail named in his honor, like two of his fellow co-founders of United Artists Mary Pickford, aka Mrs. Fairbanks, and Charlie Chaplin. Douglas Fairbanks (born Douglas Ullman) may have been a teetotaler, but Hollywood never lets facts get in the way of a story.
More Hedda on Fairbanks: The actor famously had a steam room built at the studio he and Pickford owned. “That steam room was the great leveler. When he’s mother-naked, you can’t tell whether a man’s a duke, a masseur or a producer.” This fulfills my longtime dream of using the term “mother-naked” in one of these posts.
One last tidbit from Hedda Hopper. When Douglas Fairbanks died, a coterie of pals led by actor/wrestler Bull Montana conspired at Hollywood’s Brown Derby to swipe the actor’s body, prop it under a favorite tree, and give him a more private sendoff. A busboy must have overheard the plan, because when Bull and the boys arrived at the mortuary the guard had been doubled. The ceremony proceeded at the Wee Kirk o’ the Heather without incident.
The Douglas Fairbanks
1 ½ oz. gin
1 oz. apricot brandy
½ oz. fresh lime juice
½ egg white (just use one egg white and make two drinks, it’s easier)
Shake the ingredients without ice, then with. Strain. No garnish.
Want more Cocktail of the Week? The first fifty-two essays are available in the Kindle bestseller DOWN THE HATCH: ONE MAN’S ONE YEAR ODYSSEY THROUGH CLASSIC COCKTAIL RECIPES AND LORE. Buy it now at Amazon.com.