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Archive for the ‘silent movies’ Category

The Douglas Fairbanks Museum will be closed from Nov. 21-27 for the Thanksgiving holiday.

We will close on Dec. 19, 2011 for the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, and reopen to the public on Jan. 2, 2012.

Thanks for all your support this year and happy holidays!

 

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Douglas Fairbanks Sr.'s personal copy of "The Mark of Zorro," to be auctioned in New York next week.

 

DOUGLAS FAIRBANKS JR. ESTATE AUCTION SEPT. 13th

Doyle New York will hold a major auction of items from the estate of the late Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. on September 13th at 10 a.m. Eastern time.

In addition to rare personal items of Doug Jr.’s, the auction catalog also contains several pieces that once belonged to his father, Douglas Fairbanks, Sr.

One interesting example is Doug Sr.’s own personal copy of the novel that inspired one of his most famous films: The Mark of Zorro (1920). This leather-bound volume was personally inscribed to Fairbanks by the author Johnston McCulley in 1925, at around the same time Fairbanks was producing the sequel Don Q. – Son of Zorro.

Doug Sr.'s copy of "The Mark of Zorro," with a heartfelt tribute by the author.

 

The book remained at Pickfair after Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford divorced in 1936. Fairbanks Sr. died on December 12, 1939. Many years later in 1951, Mary Pickford gave Doug Sr.’s copy of this book to his son, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.,  as a Christmas present. Her Christmas card and personal note to “Jayar” (Douglas Jr.’s nickname) are included as part of this auction lot.

Mary Pickford gave this book to Fairbanks Jr. at Christmas, 1951

 

This is just one of hundreds of must-see (and for many classic film collectors, must-HAVE) items from the Fairbanks Jr. estate that will be auctioned Sept. 13th. A pre-auction exhibit runs Sept. 9-12 for viewing and inspection of all items. Admission is free and open to the public.

For more information, visit the Estate of Douglas Fairbanks Jr. auction page at Doyle New York.

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MUSEUM RE-OPENS IN SPITE OF HARDSHIPS

By Dr. Laura Murray, museum volunteer

Despite of the national economic recession, a mold infestation in the museum’s former building, and a burglary that resulted in the loss of hundreds of rare artifacts last year, the Douglas Fairbanks Museum is finally back open again.

On what would have been the 128th birthday of the great silent film star, the museum held a Grand Reopening celebration and once again welcomed visitors into the museum’s new home.

“This is such a happy day,” museum curator Keri Leigh told the assembled group of volunteers, supporters and guests. “We’ve had more than our share of challenges over the past few years, and sometimes we wondered if this moment would ever come. Thanks to your support and the hard work of our dedicated volunteers, we are open to the public again.”

Overcome by emotion, at one point Leigh broke down in tears while describing the holiday 2010 burglary that resulted in the loss of hundreds of rare photographs, three-dimensional artifacts, and a sizable portion of the museum’s film and periodicals collections.

“Several of these items were more than 100 years old; many were one of a kind and simply cannot be replaced,” she said. “We’re trying our best to re-build the archives, but it will take many years to ever get back to where we were before the burglary.

“Funding needed to acquire new artifacts just isn’t there.” Leigh explained. “Since the economic downturn of 2008, the gifts and endowments that used to sustain us have dropped dramatically. This is true for museums and libraries everywhere, but it hit us especially hard in light of all these tragedies. Insurance only covers the fair market value, not the historic value of collectibles such as these. In many respects, we will never be made whole again because there’s just no way to replace many of the items that were stolen. They were the only ones known to exist in the world.”

Although the museum offered a cash reward and a 90-day amnesty period for return of the stolen artifacts, no one ever came forward. To date, these hundreds of rare photographs, periodicals, films, and three-dimensional items have not been located. The thieves remain at large. Private investigators are working pro bono hoping to crack the case.

“I’m just grateful for what we still have.” She said. “By the grace of God, we are here today to share what’s left of our collection with you all. We’ve been here since 1998 and we have always triumphed over tragedy. We’re not going away as long as I still have breath in me. We’re not going to let a recession, mold, or thieves get the better of us. We believe that is in keeping with the message of Douglas Fairbanks; to never give up, to fight on in the face of adversity and injustice.”

Leigh’s remarks brought wild applause and a standing ovation from the assembled group. She pointed to a poster of Douglas Fairbanks in a typically bold swashbuckling pose, ready to take on the bad guys with his rapier: “See that fellow right there? He’s our inspiration. He’s the reason we carry on.”

Fairbanks in "The Black Pirate," 1926.

GUESTS TRAVELED MANY MILES

Visitors traveled from as far away as Dallas, Oklahoma, Colorado and California to attend the reopening. Leigh also read aloud cards, letters and emails of congratulations and well-wishes from museum supporters who could not attend in person. Among them was an email she recently received from one of Fairbanks’ great-great-grandsons in England, who just penned a school term paper about his great-grandfather.

“I’m just thrilled to see kids taking an interest in Douglas Fairbanks again,” Leigh said. “It made me beam with pride when I read young Fairbanks’ final report about his great-grandfather’s vast contributions to the Allied war effort in WWII. He should be proud of his family’s legacy.”

The Campisi family traveled from California to attend the reopening celebration. While browsing through a “look book”  documenting the stolen artifacts, Mr. Campisi tried to help his 7 year old son understand why the items were not available for him to see and touch. “This makes me so sad,” Mrs. Campisi said solemnly, “but it also makes me angry. What kind of people steal a child’s education? A thief’s greed denied my son and future generations the opportunity to learn about a great pioneer of the film industry.”

Mr. Campisi added, “if the thieves should ever meet up with the ghost of Douglas Fairbanks one dark night, they had better watch out! I’m pretty sure old Doug wouldn’t be very happy about what they’ve done. That’s all I can say.”

A rare 1920s photo of Fairbanks' "Rancho Zorro," stolen in the burglary.

ALL FOR ONE, ONE FOR ALL

Visitors enjoyed refreshments, guided tours of the museum’s new exhibit and library space, and a screening of Fairbanks’ 1921 classic, “The Three Musketeers.” As a show of solidarity at the end of the movie, guests, staff, and museum volunteers raised a toast and exclaimed a hearty, “All for one, and one for all!”

A homemade birthday cake was served and every museum visitor was presented with a gift bag containing a complimentary copy of the book Douglas Fairbanks: In His Own Words, a museum button, coffee mug, and a commemorative postcard to remember the occasion by. Kids got a D’Artagnan-style hat complete with feathered plume so that they could play the hero in a Three Musketeers game.

As the sun was setting and the last guest departed, the remaining staff and volunteers began cleaning up. Before locking up for the night, we took a moment to survey the new gallery space one more time. Someone said all the hard work to rebuild had been well worth it. We all just stopped in our tracks and nodded an “amen!” We saved the candles from Doug’s birthday cake and each volunteer took one as a special souvenir to remind us all of this very special day. We will never forget it.

BEFORE AND AFTER PHOTOS

Stage 1: Moving the boxes in

Stage 2: Cleanup and preparation

Stage 3: Planning and design of gallery spaces

Stage 4: Unpacking and setting up audio/visual systems

Stage 6: Starting to fill the bookshelves

Stage 7: Hanging the posters

Stage 8: Building exhibits

Stage 9: First exhibit ready to go!

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MUSEUM RE-OPENING ON SCHEDULE

 

We are pleased to announce that the Douglas Fairbanks Museum will re-open to the public in May of 2011 as scheduled.

Our doors will open Monday, May 23rd, on what would have been Mr. Fairbanks’ 128th birthday.

The museum’s hours of operation are from 2-6 p.m, Monday through Friday. All tours are by appointment only.

Admission is $4 for adults, $2 for children, students with ID, and seniors.

Just a short drive from Austin, we are conveniently close to many Central Texas tourist attractions and are always happy to help you plan a special and event-filled vacation while you’re in the area.

We invite you to visit, learn more about Douglas Fairbanks and the silent film era, and take a tour of our beautiful new gallery space. We’re very proud indeed and eager to have you as our guest!

As the museum is located inside a historic private residence, advance registration and a prior confirmed appointment is required for all visitors.

If you would like to tour the museum, you may schedule an appointment via email or by phone at (830) 444-0523.

Also, please take the time to review our “VISIT” page to familiarize yourself with the museum’s policies and guest etiquette before you arrive.

Our heartfelt thanks to everyone who assisted with our relocation and volunteered their time/effort/sweat to help rebuild the gallery, library, and exhibit spaces. We simply could not have done it all without you!

 

 

 

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Our sincere appreciation and thanks to the Cinefamily for featuring an entire month of Douglas Fairbanks’ classic films at the Silent Movie Theatre, a Los Angeles landmark.(611 N. Fairfax Ave.)

All throughout the month of February, Fairbanks films will be playing every Wednesday night in this vintage Art Deco  movie house. All screenings are open to the public. For more information on this special series, show times, and ticket prices, see below or visit Cinefamily’s website.

Douglas Fairbanks / Silent Wednesdays in February

 

In this age of constant celebrity culture bombardment, we forget that once upon a time, there were only a handful of superstars that could truly galvanize the entire world — and that list was headed by silent film legend Douglas Fairbanks. His universal appeal lied in his astounding ability to be almost all things to all people: a man’s man, a ladies’ man, a lithe acrobat, a charming rogue, a ceaseless adventurer and a jaunty comedian. Within just a few years of his movie debut in 1915, Fairbanks rocketed to becoming the highest-paid Hollywood actor next to Chaplin, and is still known today as one of the greatest swashbucklers and stunt masters ever filmed. Join us in some of Fairbanks’ most stirring leaps into fantasy, which, over the course of almost an entire century, haven’t lost a speck of their ability to whisk us away to far-off lands.

2/2 @ 8:00pm / Series: Douglas Fairbanks
His Majesty The American

Co-presented by The Silent Treatment

Silent superstar Douglas Fairbanks’ greatest asset was his boundless energy, his ability to bounce off the walls with an unlimited supply of daring-do — and the frothy 1919 romantic comedy/actioner His Majesty The American is one of the greatest showcases of this charismatic gift! Setting the stage for his slate of famous swashbuckling pictures to come in the ‘20s, His Majesty finds Fairbanks as an independently wealthy and bored young man in Manhattan; after putting in time as an amateur firefighter for kicks and heading off to Mexico to upstage Pancho Villa(!), he travels to a fictional European kingdom with an amazingly manic exuberance to single-handedly restore order to a riot-ridden landscape. The first feature produced under the United Artists banner (a company jointly formed by titans Fairbanks, Chaplin, Pickford and Griffith), His Majesty is one of the most rip-roaring romps ever created for our beloved “fire-eating, speed-loving, space- annihilating, excitement-hunting thrillhound!” Showing before the feature is Fairbanks’ notorious 1916 drug comedy/detective spoof The Mystery Of The Leaping Fish — and author/historian Jeffrey Vance will provide opening remarks on Fairbanks’ wild ‘n woolly career!
His Majesty The American Dir. Joseph Henabery, 1919, 16mm. (Archival 16mm print courtesy of The Douris Corporation)
Mystery of the Leaping Fish Dirs. Christy Cabanne & John Emerson, 1916, 35mm, 25 min. (Archival 35mm print courtesy of The Douris Corporation)

Tickets – $12/free for members

 

2/9 @ 8:00pm / Series: Douglas Fairbanks
The Three Musketeers

“When Alexandre Dumas…said to himself ‘Well, I guess I might as well write a book called The Three Musketeers, he doubtless had one object in view: to provide a suitable story for Douglas Fairbanks to act in the movies.” – LIFE Magazine

1920’s The Mark Of Zorro established Douglas Fairbanks as the biggest action star of his day, and truly set the tone for the rest of his career — but it was in The Three Musketeers that he pulled off, with consummate ease, possibly his most fantastic stuntwork. Even though he was 38 years old at the time, Douglas Fairbanks makes for all-time the role of D’Artagnan (the hot-headed young turk who joins the titular troika of rapier-wielding 17th-century soldiers), and employs a tongue-in-cheek style that has remained a constant in the swashbuckling genre, all the way up through today’s Pirates of the Carribbean. Watch for one of the most stunning stunts in early film, as Fairbanks does a one-handed handspring while reaching for a sword!
Dir. Fred Niblo, 1921, 16mm, 120 min.

Tickets – $10

 

2/16 @ 8:00pm / Series: Douglas Fairbanks
Robin Hood

After the successive successes of the spectacular The Mark of Zorro and The Three Musketeers, Fairbanks’ ambition became as bottomless as his physical prowess — and so naturally, the production of 1922’s Robin Hood was destined to become a staggeringly opulent action extravaganza! Rather than covering the usual time-honored origin story touchstones, Fairbanks’ version instead gives us an opening act where he plays the chivalrous Earl of Huntington, who is a participant in the sword-heavy Crusades. Only upon returning back to England does he find that Prince John has turned a once-idyllic empire into a Dante-esque sty of corruption. Executed on a herculean scale, the film’s sets were erected by an army of five hundred carpenters and towered ninety feet in the air, covering ten acres of land — historically accurate to the smallest detail. Add to that Fairbanks’ trademark gravity-defying stuntwork, and you’ve got one of the most joyous tellings of the beloved Robin Hood myth!
Dir. Allan Dwan, 1922, 35mm, 127 min.

Tickets – $10

 

2/19 @ 6:30pm / Series: Douglas Fairbanks
MEMBERS-ONLY SCREENING, SPECIAL SATURDAY SHOW:
The Thief of Bagdad
(“re-imagined” by Shadoe Stevens, w/ score feat. the music of ELO, world premiere!)

One of the most rousing, lavish and extraordinary film adventures of the 1920s comes to the Cinefamily in a version never before heard! Over the past 30 years, broadcasting legend Shadoe Stevens (the Federated Group’s “Fred Rated”; television shows like “Hollywood Squares and “Dave’s World”; the voice of “The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson” and so much more) has been obsessed with Douglas Fairbanks’s masterful fantasy The Thief Of Bagdad — and throughout the years, has been privately perfecting the ultimate lush, dreamlike soundtrack to accompany this favored silent. Tonight, we proudly present the world premiere of Shadoe’s “re-imagined” Thief of Bagdad, scored entirely to the legendary music of the Electric Light Orchestra, which inexplicably complements and enhances the action! It’s an exceptional experience, as if the music was written for the movie.

This eye-popping odyssey features Fairbanks as a street thief who, in order to prove his worth to a princess paramour, transforms himself and is whisked away through a variety of storybook scenarios. Leapfrogging from undersea kingdoms to cloud cities and lunar outposts. With a winged horse, magic crystals and flying carpets, it’s a film of breathtaking innovation and magic. Gorgeous art deco larger-than-life setpieces, thousands of extras, the best SFX of its era and Fairbanks’s physical mastery all meld with the timeless music of Jeff Lynne and the Electric Light Orchestra to produce a once-in-a-lifetime viewing experience!
Dir. Raoul Walsh, 1924, digital presentation, 140 min.

Tickets – free for members (first-come, first serve)

NOTE: you must have a current Cinefamily 3-month, 6-month or yearly membership to gain admission to this show — and we’ll have staff on-hand at the box office for you to re-up your lapsed membership, or sign up for a new one (hint-hint!)

 

2/23 @ 8:00pm / Series: Douglas Fairbanks
The Black Pirate

Photographed in early two-strip Technicolor, The Black Pirate is, by design, nothing but pure entertainment, as it’s crammed to the gills with swordfights, gallivanting about, pretty maidens, underwater chases and sweet revenge! Fairbanks had been itching to do a pirate picture for years, after being beaten to the punch by the big smashes of both The Sea Hawk and Captain Blood — and this film tops them both with its tale of a shipwrecked young man who finds that the pirate enemies who killed his father are also on the same island, burying the treasure which they stole from him. Going undercover, Doug infiltrates their ranks, in an attempt to explode them from within! With exteriors shot on location at sea, this is one of Fairbanks’ most satisfying efforts, blending whimsical comedy, startling nautical realism, romance and violence into a rollicking ball that will leave you grinnin’ from ear to ear, arrrrrgh!
Dir. Albert Parker, 1926, 35mm, 94 min.

Tickets – $10

 

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Douglas Fairbanks in "The Mark of Zorro," coming to Austin's Long Center for the Performing Arts

ZORRO SLASHES INTO AUSTIN!

 

Rick Benjamin’s PARAGON ORCHESTRA

plays the original score to Douglas Fairbanks’

‘The Mark of Zorro’

January 30, 2011

4 PM

Long Center for the Performing Arts, Austin, TX

 

“Listening to a full band perform the complete scores, written and timed to the action, became a surprising delight…The audience chuckled along, as much to the music as the films.”

– The Washington Post

 

The MARK of ZORRO (1920) Together again at last – the swashbuckling silent classic with its original, Spanish-flavored score! Played by Rick Benjamin’s Paragon Orchestra.

Old Spanish California is the setting in which Douglas Fairbanks creates the prototype of the modern action-adventure hero, with surprising humor and athleticism, as “Senor Zorro.”

Slashing his trademark “Z” on the consciousness and sometimes the posteriors of the corrupt administration of Governor Alvarado, Zorro leads the way to “Justice for all!”

Rick Benjamin and his Paragon Orchestra reunite the zesty original score with the cinema classic as they have for 20 years with the films of Chaplin, Keaton and Harold Lloyd.

Return to Full Season Listing

 

Buy Subscription Tickets

Buy Tickets

 

For more information, visit TheLongCenter.org

Fairbanks and Marguerite DeLaMotte in "The Mark of Zorro." Photo from the collections of the Douglas Fairbanks Museum.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 10, 2011

CONTACT:

THE DOUGLAS FAIRBANKS MUSEUM

(830) 444-0523

Email

Original 1926 photo from "The Black Pirate," stolen in Dec. 2010 burglary.

BURGLARS NAB RARE FAIRBANKS FILMS, PHOTOS,

ARTIFACTS IN HOLIDAY HEIST

Items dating back to the early 1900s and valued at more than $10,000 (USD) were stolen from the museum’s collections during a late night burglary over the New Year’s holiday.

Original one-of-a-kind photographic prints, negatives and slides, autographs, promotional materials for Fairbanks’ films, the star’s handwritten correspondence, vintage newspapers and magazines, and other rare silent film memorabilia were stolen from the archives.

Fortunately intruders did not gain access to the museum’s most valuable artifacts, which are housed separately in a secure storage facility off-site. However, the crooks did manage to make off with a goodly portion of the museum’s photo, video, and periodicals collections. These are the items most frequently requested by the public, media, filmmakers, other libraries, museums and galleries for reproductions, research and exhibition loans.

Items stolen include five archival binder boxes containing photographic prints, negatives and slides; two large archival albums containing film posters, playbills, programs, vintage theater tickets and other rare film memorabilia; two archival boxes containing newspapers, magazines and film periodicals nearly a century old, as well as copies of films by Fairbanks and other silent cinema stars on VHS tape and DVD from the museum’s circulation library.

The most valuable artifact the burglars got away with was (ironically) an original brass urn dating to approximately 1923, a set piece for the film The Thief of Bagdad. This urn has been a centerpiece of exhibits since the museum acquired it from a Los Angeles movie prop house in 2005. The object stands appx. 2 feet tall and features ornate lifting handles in the shape of two cobra snakes on each side. The rare prop urn was in the process of having a broken handle repaired at the time of the burglary; normally it would have been stored offsite.

1924 prop urn used in "The Thief of Bagdad"

UNHAPPY HOLIDAYS

The burglary took place at the domicile of museum curator Keri Leigh, who was out of town over the holidays. Leigh co-founded the small private museum in 1998 and for many years housed the collections inside her family residence. A lifelong silent film enthusiast, Leigh always enjoyed sharing her rare film memorabilia collection with other Fairbanks fans, filmmakers, researchers, students, and historians, welcoming visitors from all around the globe.

“We never really worried too terribly much about break-ins or petty theft because as a private museum, we’re not readily accessible to the general public. Our tours are by appointment only. We don’t have a location that people can just walk into off the street. ” Leigh explains. “So we avoided a lot of would-be thieves casing the place for valuables with that added layer of security.”

While the museum’s policy limits admittance and access to the collections only to those with a bona fide research or scholarly need, curator Leigh says “actually, we’ve never denied admittance to anyone over the years,” a decision she does not regret even in light of the burglary. “The whole point is to share the collections with people.”

“Silent film fans respect the historical value of these artifacts,” she stresses. “They would never want to deprive future generations of the chance to see and learn about Douglas Fairbanks. They’ve always treated the museum and the home with great care when they come to visit us. They are as upset as we are about this theft, because these collections rightfully belong to the people – to Doug’s fans; to history.”

The most distressing aspect of the theft, according to Leigh, is that “the people who stole these artifacts were probably unaware of their cultural value and importance. They probably just thought they were robbing a well-stocked private residence, maybe looking to make a quick buck by selling the contents. They likely had no idea they had stolen property belonging to a museum.” Leigh shook her head in sad disbelief. “It would not surprise me at all if they didn’t even know who Douglas Fairbanks was.”

Such a burglary is not at all uncommon: according to the Art Loss Register, 54 percent of art thefts occur in domestic dwellings. However, the next three highest areas of theft occur in museums and galleries (12 percent each) and in churches (10 percent.) For this reason, institutions housing valuables have set up organizations to combat and prevent art thefts. These include the Univeristy of Cambridge’s Illicit Antiquities Research Centre, which monitors and reports on the international trade of stolen antiquities, and MuseumSecurity.Org, which has a mailing list that provides regular reports on stolen museum items.

Other major law enforcement agencies have their own databases of stolen artwork, including the Interpol database of stolen art. The U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs is also devoted to International Cultural Property Protection.

The problem has become so prevalent that in 1991 the art and insurance communities jointly began the Art Loss Register in an attempt to fight art thefts around the globe. The register allows major auctioneers, collectors and art buyers to check their catalogues to determine whether a valuable piece is stolen property. The ALR lists about 1,200 new items each month and has a total of more than 120,000 stolen paintings, sculptures, furnishings and other valuable artifacts on file.

A rare image of Fairbanks with his custom Cadillac, circa 1928. This photograph, along with hundreds of others, was stolen in the Dec. 2010 burglary.

A RUDE AWAKENING

In the early morning hours of December 30th, museum curator Leigh was awakened in her hotel room miles away by a phone call from her neighbors. They had witnessed the bandits driving away in the middle of the night and alerted police.

When a panicked Leigh returned home, she discovered that the front door lock had been cracked. Her home surveillance cameras were of no use, either — electrical lines to the house were cut before the looters entered. Inside, she found a ransacked mess of her personal possessions strewn about the floor; all drawers, closets, and cabinets were picked through by the criminals. Everything of value in the home had been taken.

Leigh (who is also a renowned musician, recording artist, writer, and radio personality) lost an invaluable collection of rare tapes, photographs, concert posters and music memorabilia documenting her 25 year music career in the heist. Leigh has previously authored biographies of Douglas Fairbanks and blues guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan, her late friend and musical mentor.

Items taken from the home include Leigh’s original onstage costumes; many were handmade custom designs given to her by fans and friends through the years. She also lost master tapes for her band’s studio albums, a treasured 1940s Stella acoustic guitar, as well as her collection of her band’s live recordings, radio interviews and broadcasts, demo tapes, notes, song lyrics, notes, research and chapters for a book she was writing at the time of the break-in. While the actual cash or replacement value for these items exceeds $20,000, Leigh says their practical and sentimental value is incalculable: “You just can’t put a price tag on things like that.”

“”They took the deepest part of me – my music.” She says. “Songs I wrote, recorded, mixed and produced. They took my demo tapes and a 20-year archive of recorded performances of the band in concert, in the studio and on the radio. That’s a lifetime of work – my whole heart and soul – was in there. And they took it all. I could write an album’s worth of blues songs about how I feel right now, but don’t even have a guitar left to write them on.”

Hundreds of CDs, DVDs, 45 and 78 rpm records were stolen from Leigh’s sizable music collection. Designer clothing items were also pilfered; medicines and nutritional supplements nicked from her kitchen pantry. (“Seriously — what kind of burglars steal your vitamins?” Leigh mused.) The peckish prowlers also helped themselves to food items in her pantry. To make matters worse for Leigh personally, the burglars found her spare sets of keys and copped two cars. Until the stolen property is recovered and returned, Leigh is without even the basic necessities of daily life. “They totally cleaned me out,” she says.

“About the only thing they didn’t take were my books,” Leigh sighed. “I guess they weren’t very literary burglars.”

So far, no arrests have been made in the case.

TO CATCH A THIEF

Leigh’s friends, family, fans, and Fairbanks museum supporters have organized an online community watch effort to catch the crooks. They scour web auction and classified sites such as Craigslist looking out for her stage clothing, guitars, master tapes, personal effects, and museum artifacts to emerge. (Many of Leigh’s stolen stage costumes can be seen in the photo galleries of her band’s Official MySpace and in her music videos on YouTube.)

Music and film memorabilia dealers, auctioneers, other museums, and the general public are being urged to keep their eyes peeled for these items and to report any suspected stolen property to their local police or the FBI. Leigh has also retained a private investigator to help track down her stolen property and locate the thieves.

“These things nearly always wind up on eBay sooner or later.” Leigh says. “Art thieves routinely approach museums, galleries and memorabilia dealers trying to sell stolen goods. With the eyes of the public watching them, they are far less likely to succeed. Most art thieves are caught by one person who recognizes a piece of cultural property offered for sale as stolen and reports back to the rightful owner.”

Perhaps the only consolation for Leigh is that most of the items stolen from her home are unique and one-of-a-kind, and thus easily identifiable. “For the most part, these are not the typical sorts of items that can be sold off to pawn shops, such as TVs, computers, stereo equipment and electronics.” She explained. “It would take a very sophisticated fence operation that deals in stolen art and cultural property to handle them on the black market. I rather doubt these thieves are that clever or that connected.”

The museum is offering a 90-day “no questions asked” amnesty period for the safe return of the property. Should the burglars — or anyone currently in possession of the stolen items — return them to the museum, the band’s management, or to Leigh personally before March 30, 2011, they will not face criminal prosecution.

“The most important thing is getting the items returned promptly,” Leigh says. “The museum is scheduled to re-open in May 2011, and I can only pray we will have this substantial part of our collections back in time for that. Otherwise, our ability to present exhibits and fulfill research requests will be greatly diminished. To say the least.”

An alert and vigilant public will play a crucial role in recovering both Leigh’s own musical treasures and the Fairbanks Museum artifacts taken from her home.”Working together, I hope and pray that we can catch the thieves and get these rare items returned to the museum, so that the public may continue to have access to them for hundreds of years to come.” Leigh says. “This collection was intended to survive well past my earthly lifetime. I built it for the education, enjoyment and cultural enrichment of future generations. To think that all that time, effort and expense was in vain absolutely breaks my heart.”

Signed Fairbanks photographic print, circa 1920. Stolen.

BE OUR EYES AND EARS

Anyone with information about the burglary or reports of artifacts from the museum’s collections being offered for sale is encouraged to contact the museum immediately via email or phone at (830) 444-0523. Tips leading to an arrest and/or return of museum property may also qualify for a cash reward.

As the inventory of stolen property contains hundreds of items and is too extensive to include here, 100 images and descriptions of artifacts taken in the Dec. 30th burglary are sampled below. Please take a few moments to familiarize yourself with them.

Many more of the stolen photographs, posters, and museum artifacts can be seen in the 2005 documentary film Douglas Fairbanks: The Great Swashbuckler. You can watch this film on the museum’s official YouTube Channel.

If you spot the same or similar item(s) being offered for sale and suspect these may be museum property, please contact the museum to confirm provenance via catalog/accession numbers and identifying tags/marks on the object(s) right away. Time is of the essence in reclaiming these historic museum artifacts before they are lost forever.

Samples of property/objects stolen from the museum’s collections:

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