The great Douglas Fairbanks died on Dec. 12, 1939. He was only 56. Known as “the king of Hollywood,” Douglas had a stellar career in silent movies. He made a few talkies, but his career was effectively over by then, not, I believe, because he couldn’t adapt to sound, but because of his age and drinking. He virtually invented the action hero, the dashing, swashbuckling, romantic guy who gets the girl at the end of the picture. I think he and his audiences had trouble visualizing a 50-something swashbuckler, and anyway, Douglas was more interested in traveling around the world with his third wife. Although a teetotaler in his younger years (he didn’t even serve wine at his dinner parties), he started drinking later on. His death was from a heart attack, but for such a relatively young man who had always been athletic and an advertisement for good health, it had to have been something to do with the drinking.