100th Anniversary of the Marriage of Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford

Photo signed by both Doug and Mary from our collection.

A chronological order of the wedding

Just 28 days after her divorce to first husband Owen Moore in Minden, NV, America's Sweetheart married the King of Hollywood making them the first power couple in Hollywood.

Friday, March 26, 1920

While most couples apply for a marriage license through the marriage license bureau at their local courthouse, Douglas and Mary’s story developed differently.   Secretly, Fairbanks at his own home in Beverly Hills, gave a dinner party in honor of his soon-to-be bride.  In attendance was Rev. James Whitcomb Brougher (minister at Los Angeles Temple Baptist Church) and license clerk, R.S. “Cupid” Sparks.  “Cupid” Sparks, the clerk, spoke of that night: “I had a hunch I might be asked for something in the license line when I was invited to the dinner, so I took along the necessary documents.  When they brought the subject up, I said, ‘I knew I’d get you two sometime.’ And Fairbanks laughed.  After I had made out the papers, I said, ‘Well, that’s my masterpiece in marriage licenses. You can shoot me now.  I never can stage anything better than this. For business reasons, Doug and “Cupid” had an agreement that the marriage shall remain a secret for at least 2 weeks.

Doug had more planned that evening at dinner. He had invited Rev. James Whitcomb Brougher with the intent the two would be married that same evening.  Mary, however, was reluctant.  Mary was wearing black to the dinner and she wanted to be married in white. She also did not want to be married on a Friday and thought a Sunday would be more appropriate.  Rev. J. Whitcomb Brougher agreed to Sunday after his evening services.  Rev. J. Whitcomb Brougher was one of the most distinguished and respected ministers of his time, also serving as President of the Northern Baptist convention.  Brougher also officiated Will Rogers funeral in 1935.

Sunday, March 28, 1920

Only a few hours before his wedding, Doug's attire was far from what you would expect for a man marrying the most famous woman in the world.  Appearing clad in only an old golf suit,  Doug attended the automobile races at the Los Angeles Speedway.

At 10:30 P.M. (after the evening services at the Temple Baptist Church), Rev. James Whitcomb Brougher married Doug and Mary.  The location was the Reverend’s home at 1341 W. 4thStreet, Los Angeles (confirmed by his voter registry from 1920). This home is just a few blocks from where the Los Angeles Temple Baptist Church was located in Pershing Square at 427 West Fifth Street (across the street from the Biltmore Hotel).  Some sources mention the wedding took place at the Reverend’s Glendale home, however, he lived in Glendale several years later.  Sadly, neither the home nor the church still stands.

Location of the home as it looks today where Doug & Mary got married.

Postcard of Brougher's Temple Baptist Church from our collection.

Where the LA Temple Baptist Church once stood near the Biltmore Hotel.

There is a marker on the sidewalk regarding the building that once stood.

Guests included:

  • Robert Fairbanks (Doug's brother and Best Man)
  • Mrs. Robert Fairbanks
  • Actress Marjorie Daw (Bridesmaid)
  • Charlotte Pickford Smith (Mary's Mother)
  • Henry Miles Cook (assistant Reverend at Temple Baptist Church)
  • Brougher and her mother, Mrs. Isabel Morse
  • W. Brougher, Jr.
  • Bennie Zeidman (Fairbanks’s former press agent)

Original photo of Doug in His Majesty, the American with Marjorie Daw (bridesmaid) from our collection.

While Doug was in evening clothes, Mary wore a white silk tulle over white satin with apple green binding and a spray of apple green at her waist.  Her only jewels were a pearl santeir.  Marjorie Daw wore a pink georgette crepe and Charlotte (Mary’s mother) wore a beaded georgette crepe.  Mrs. Robert Fairbanks wore a beaded cream-colored dress.

“The double ring ceremony was used and neither the bride nor the bridegroom displayed composure which might have been expected.  Both appeared ‘fussed’ and acted quite the way a couple would who are not accustomed to the spotlight.” Said the Buffalo Courier Paper.

At the end of the ceremony, the Reverend read passages from the Book of Ephesians using the Bible which the groom’s mother had given to him when she was dying.  The passages read were Ephesians 5:22 to 5:32:

Ephesians 5

  1. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.
  2. For the Husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body.
  3. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.
  4. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
  5. That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
  6. That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
  7. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.
  8. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church;
  9. For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
  10. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
  11. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

On the marriage license, Mary (whose name on the license appeared as Gladys Mary Moore) gave her age as 26.  Douglas Elton Fairbanks gave his age as 10 years older.  Mary's wedding present to Doug was a photo of her in the wedding dress.  Doug's gift to Mary was a home that would be named Pickfair.

March 31, 1920

A reception was held at the Fairbanks home in Beverly Hills at which the bride and groom received the congratulations of members of the motion pictures, friends and many others.

Also around March 31, 1920 the announcement of their wedding made the headlines of most newspapers.

June 29, 1920

During the Northern Baptist convention, Rev. James Whitcomb upholds his church office after an attempted rebuke and request for removal from committees along with investigation for performing the marriage of Doug and Mary.  The Baptist denomination is said to be against the remarriage of divorced persons except on scriptural grounds.

Photo of Mary in her wedding dress by Adolf de Meyer from our collection.

Mary Pickford’s Wedding Dress

In true Mary fashion, she repurposed her size 4 wedding dress several times.  She wore it again for both her brother’s and sister’s weddings. However, after her divorce to Doug, the wedding dress was then stored in the Pickfair attic in 1936 until she died. At the 1981 auction of Mary’s belongings, the wedding dress was auctioned off for only $1200.

Mary wearing her wedding dress at Jack Pickford's wedding to Marilyn Miller from our collection.

Wedding dress description from the 1981 auction catalog.

 

References:
San Bernardino County Sun 3/3/1920
Buffalo Courier 3/31/1920
LA Evening Express 6/28/1920
Berkshire Eagle (Pittsfield, MA) 3/19/1981

 

 

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “100th Anniversary of the Marriage of Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford

    1. I’m still investigating where the dress might be. About a month or so ago, I met with the James Goodman that organized the ’81 auction and the stories of costumes being washed and then wanting the money back was a rumor thank goodness.

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