Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on July 27, 1975 · Page 109
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Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 109

Charleston, West Virginia
Issue Date:
Sunday, July 27, 1975
Page 109
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Page 109 article text (OCR)

- ·*·' ^, ^^^ Retired Douglas Fairbanks still busy at 65 By William Glover WASHINGTON UPl - Douglas Fairbanks Jr. keeps getting involved. "I have infinite curiosity and more energy than I need," says the theater's veteran envpy-at-large to the high circles of society, diplomacy and business. He insists, however, that there has been some tapering off of the action imperative since announcing "virtual retirement" a dozen years ago. ·'·'.''· fairbanks looks back on that pronouncement with: "I said to myself, 'Qlthell, what am 1 trying to prove? I've been very lucky, more than-il deserve, why isn't it time to ease off?' " The old get-up-and-go surfaced again during a recent visit to the capital. A scheduled six-weeks appearance at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Noel Coward's "Present Laughter" proved such an audience grabber that the run was extended to 10 weeks. Besides setting a house record, it was, to the best of the'jaunty performer's, memory, his longest stage stopover in one place. . . During the visit, Fairbanks also signed on as co-chairperson with- Mrs. Gerald Ford of a "Sound and Light" project for the Capitol. The $10 million plan would provide a nightly historic pageant similar to those which toave become major tourist lures at many European shrines. ; Another bit of local business for the suave, -B5-year-old ex-film swashbuckler; was "a few hours of duty." nature undisclosed, as a temporarily recalled U.S. Navy captlain. On the international scene, with offices in New York, Hollywood, arid-London, Fairbanks continues active with a dozen director or con- sultant connections to corporations, foundations, the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Rambaugh Palace Hotel in Jaipur, India. Keeping track of the details of each involvement is entrusted to a private secretariat. Tactful charm and long association with celebrity -- including England's Elizabeth II and American presidents -- do miich to explain why his services are widely; sought. "Mostly;!have conversations with people; who control great trusts," he:says of his efforts on behalf of the Shakespeare center at Stratford-upon-Avon - a fair sample of how .Fairbanks clout functions. M , To avoid, pretension in conversation,- the affable star thoughtfully makes available to an interviewer beforehand a 16-page summary of accomplishments, awards, honors and .medals received as an actor, businessman, philanthropist, public servant, diplomatic messenger, and warrior. During the past five years, "although not that keen on acting," the man with the elegant air has been in revived demand for extended cross-country stage tours in such items as "My Fair Lady," "the.pleasure of His Company" and "The Secretary Bird." "I try to pick what has been ac- complications and compromises that are involved are too great... I wouldn't mind doing a small part in someone else's show, if the people involved were interesting and it were an amusing setup." "Public taste has always swung back and forth. I think we are already beginning to see a reaction from recent extreme. If only we could stop somewhere in the middle of the swing." Douglas Fairbanks Jr. poses in his; dressing room af the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts. cepted in the past. Then I get the finest casts possible -- so the quality is there." ^ . Coward, a close friend for years, originally suggested that Fairbanks do "Present Laughter," but the actor resisted, remembering an acerbic Clifton Webb rendition. "Noel was furious with how he changed the play," Fairbanks learned. After the playwright's , death, several revised scripts were found among.his papers, and from them a Kennedy production ultimately evolved. Fairbanks would like to flex histrionic ability in other than such high comedy roles, "but I haven't found anyone to share my enthusiasm for a serious part." He has never trod the boards in his native New York City. "I started there a couple of times, but something always intervened. I don't think I would go now unless it were a special sort of thing, with an all-star cast for six or eight weeks, to make a big splash." Similar wariness prevails about any more motion pictures. He appeared in 75 films, some of which he wrote or produced, between the ages of 14 and 52. "I'd like to produce one now if everytnmg were made easy," runs his reasoning. "If someone put 'X" dollars on a plate and said, 'go ahead, we believe in you.' But nobody does that anymore and the Fairbanks conrols most of the movies made by his father, and contemplates "little by little" releasing them anew or assembling a highlights cavalcade. "I have a chap looking into it." All of his own films, "except for three duds that no one ever wants to see," are owned by others. That circumstance doesn't ruffle his urbane calm, any more than does the current cinema-sage vogue of intense candor. "I'm too old to be shocked," says the star who, thanks Urthree married daughters, has'eight grandchildren. "I do get bored by a lot of such, 'entertainment.' A lot is childish- any child can write four-letter words on a wall. It is mostly self-indulgent and singularly lacking in imagination and taste. "There's nothing bawdier than Restoration plays, but-they had wit. and intelligence about them. Question Box Q -- Is Dean Martin coming back with his hilarious roasts next season? I enjoy these shows more than anything else on TV. - H.F., Charleston, Miss. ' A - Dean Martin's roasts will be · back next season. They will'be on - periodically, not every week. . Q -- I am interested in knowing what made-for-TV movie got the highest rating. - E.H., Holyoke, Mass. A -- According to the September, 1 1974, ratings in Variety, the top ten made-for-TV films are "The Night Stalker,"; "A Case of Rape," "Brian's Song," "Women in Chains," "Heidi," "My Sweet Charlie," "The Feminist and the Fuzz," "Call Her Mom," "A Death of Innocence," and "The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pitman." An update would probably change this list some, but as of last year, that is how it stood. ALCOA ALUMINUM SIDING Serving the Charleston Area for 31 YEARS Complete Home Modernization! * ALUMINUM REPLACEMENT WINDOWS * ALUMINUM SIDING * INSULATED SIDING * PORCH ENCLOSURES ^RECREATION ROOMS * ROOFS * STORM WINDOWS DOORS * GUTTERS DOWN SPOUTS -""" CALL NOW 346-5701 NIGHTS-SUNDAYS-HOLIDAYS CALL 925-7104 CHARLESTON HOTPOINT SHOP APPLIANCES! FURNITUREI Kan. City 5212 MacCorkle»»e. S.E. MAYTAG Maskers, Dryers, Dishwashers, DiH«rs. TV AND STEREO * RANGES, REFRKEMTOHSl FREEZHS * 'edderAirl Conditioners FURNITURE Quasar T.V. 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