Madeline and Marion Fairbanks
Madeline (Madeleine) (15 November 1900 – 15 January 1989) and her twin sister Marion Fairbanks (15 November 1900 – 20 September 1973) were stage and motion picture actresses active in the silent era. The two sisters were seemingly inseparable. However, their Thanhouser filmographies are slightly different, as on occasion one twin appeared in a film without the other.
Born in New York City, the twins were mainly educated by private tutors at home and while traveling. Their mother was actress Jennie M. Fairbanks, a.k.a. Jane Fairbanks, and their father was the son of Nathaniel Fairbanks, who served in the American Civil War, and a descendant of Jonathan Fairbanks, a Massachusetts hero of the Revolution. Madeline and Marion had an older brother, Robert.
The twins began their career on the stage in such productions as Alias Jimmy Valentine, Mother, Salomy Jane, Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch, and countless others. Starting in 1909 they performed with Nora Bayes in The Jolly Bachelors. Madeline wrote a note to President William Howard Taft, who received the twins at a private reception when they performed in Washington, D.C.. After the meeting, he presented them with an autographed picture. At first Marion desired to be a dramatic actress while Madeline aspired to playing comedic roles.
They entered films with Biograph circa 1910. They joined the Thanhouser Film Corporation in 1912, where they were billed as "The Thanhouser Twins", and remained there until 1916. The Fairbanks sisters appeared with Teddie Gerard in the cast of the Florenz Ziegfeld Midnight Frolic in August 1920.
In 1923, Madeline decided to pursue dramatic roles, while Marion continued in musical revues, touring in the title role with the "Little Nellie Kelly company". Madeline landed roles in Mercenary Mary, The Grab Bag, and The Ritz Revue. By 1924, the girls had felt their separation too keenly, and they rejoined on stage in George White's Scandals, followed in early 1927 by parts in Oh, Kay.
|1912||Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs||Madeline & Marion|
|1916||The Century Girl||Madeline & Marion|
|1917||Ziegfeld Follies of 1917||Madeline & Marion|
|1918||Ziegfeld Follies of 1918||Madeline & Marion|
|1919||Ziegfeld Follies of 1919||Madeline & Marion|
|1921||Ziegfeld 9 O'clock Frolic||Madeline & Marion|
|1921||Two Little Girls in Blue||Madeline & Marion|
|1924||Hassard Short's Ritz Revue||Madeline|
|1924||The Grab Bag||Marion|
|1926||Oh, Kay!||Madeline & Marion|
|1912||The Twins||Madeline & Marion|
|1912||Cousins||Madeline & Marion|
|1912||As Others See Us||Madeline & Marion|
|1912||The Little Girl Next Door||Madeline & Marion|
|1913||An Unfair Exchange||Madeline & Marion|
|1913||Life's Pathway||Madeline & Marion|
|1913||The Twins and the Other Girl||Madeline & Marion|
|1913||The Children's Hour||Madeline & Marion|
|1913||Their Great Big Beautiful Doll||Madeline & Marion|
|1913||Uncle's Namesakes||Madeline & Marion|
|1913||Lawyer, Dog and Baby||Madeline & Marion|
|1913||Jack and the Beanstalk||Madeline & Marion|
|1914||Twins and a Stepmother||Madeline & Marion|
|1914||Guilty or Not Guilty||Madeline|
|1914||The Tin Soldier and the Dolls||Madeline & Marion|
|1914||In Her Sleep||Madeline|
|1914||The Legend of Snow White||Marion|
|1914||The Girl Across the Hall||Marion|
|1914||The Million Dollar Mystery||Madeline & Marion|
|1914||The Widow's Mite||Madeline & Marion|
|1914||The Pendulum of Fate||Madeline & Marion|
|1914||In Peril's Path||Madeline & Marion|
|1914||In Danger's Hour||Madeline & Marion|
|1914||The Benevolence of Conductor 786||Madeline & Marion|
|1914||Left in the Train||Madeline & Marion|
|1914||Shep's Race with Death||Madeline & Marion|
|1914||Pawns of Fate||Madeline & Marion|
|1914||Shadows and Sunshine||Madeline & Marion|
|1914||A Hatful of Trouble||Marion|
|1915||When Fate Rebelled||Madeline & Marion|
|1915||$1,000 Reward||Madeline & Marion|
|1915||Their One Love||Madeline & Marion|
|1915||Fairy Fern Seed||Madeline & Marion|
|1915||Through Edith's Looking Glass||Marion|
|1915||Which Shall It Be?||Madeline & Marion|
|1915||The Flying Twins||Madeline & Marion|
|1915||The Twins of the G.L. Ranch||Madeline & Marion|
|1915||An Innocent Traitor||Madeline & Marion|
|1915||The Baby and the Boss||Marion|
|1916||Bubbles in the Glass||Madeline|
|1916||The Burglars' Picnic||Madeline & Marion|
|1916||A Bird of Prey||Madeline|
|1916||The Answer||Madeline & Marion|
|1916||The Heart of a Doll||Madeline & Marion|
|1922||The Beauty Shop||Madeline & Marion|
|1929||On with the Show!||Madeline & Marion|
By 1932, Marion was on stage separately at the Waldorf Theatre, New York City. She succeeded Eleanor King as leading lady in Whistling in the Dark. 1930s news accounts reported that she operated a beauty parlor and directed a branch of a cosmetics manufacturer. In her later years she knew much unhappiness and struggled with the temptations of alcohol.
Marion Fairbanks died in Georgia in 1973. Her name was then Marion Fairbanks Delph. She had no survivors other than her sister. Madeline married Leonard Sherman in 1937. The union ended in divorce in 1947. She lived in New York until early 1989, where she died of respiratory failure.
- New York Times, Theatrical Notes, August 9, 1920, Page 6.
- Syracuse Herald, Juvenile Performers Are Stage Veterans, May 5, 1912, Page 48.
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