Today is the birthday of the Fairbanks Twins, Marion and Madeline (b. 1900, no relation to Douglas). Second generation actresses from New York, they began acting in melodramatic hits of the day and by 1909 they were in The Jolly Bachelors with Nora Bayes. The following year they broke into pictures at Biograph. In 1912 they moved over to the Thanhouser Film Corporation, re-branding themselves the Thanhouser Twins while they were there (through 1916). Together and separately they were constant presences on Broadway from 1917 through the next decade, mostly in revues like the Ziegfeld Follies and Frolics, George Whites Scandals and the Music Box Revue. During those years they also played big time vaudeville, as when they played the Palace in 1923. In the 1930s they retired from the theatre. Marion died in 1973, Madeline in 1989.
To find out more about the variety arts past and present, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold. And don’t miss Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, to be released by Bear Manor Media in 2013.