Hollywood royalty in Egypt

Silent Couple

My last post mentioned in passing the fact that Hollywood golden couple Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford had added their signatures to the Winter Palace Golden Book in November 1929. At the time they were just about two of the biggest names in cinema, partners with Charlie Chaplin and DW Griffiths in the founding of United Artists production studios, while in May of 1929 Fairbanks had been the host for the first ever Oscars ceremony. The Egyptian Gazette of 4 November 1929 reported on the pair’s visit to Egypt, noting that they were, “Better known and better loved than any other couple in the whole world”. They arrived in Alexandria on the SS Rashid of the Khedivial Mail Line and took a short tour of the town before they were driven to the station to catch the midday train to Cairo. Fairbanks told the waiting crowds at the station, “I’m just mad about Egypt”.

Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford in Luxor with the manager of the Winter Palace, Anton Badrutt

Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford in Luxor with the manager of the Winter Palace, Anton Badrutt

They stayed at Shepheard’s where they were interviewed by a correspondent from the Gazette who asked what Fairbanks thought of the talkies: “The talkies are a wonderful invention,” he replied, “and have a great future but so far the talking has been exaggerated.” He then reportedly gave a demonstration in his room of how he leapt from the bough of a tree to a windowsill 30 feet away. In Cairo, they were shown round the Egyptian Museum by Howard Carter, before travelling up the Nile to Luxor. The paper says they were due to leave Egypt on 12 November bound for the next stop on their world tour, which was Colombo.

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