The Thanhouser Twins: Marion and Madeline Fairbanks

by Ned Thanhouser (Thanhouser Company Film Preservation)

Abstract: Twin sisters Marion and Madeline Fairbanks (no relationship to Douglas Fairbanks’ family) were famously marketed as ‘The Thanhouser Twins’ by the studio. The twins received much publicity appearing in over 50 Thanhouser films between 1912 and 1916. Before appearing in moving pictures, Marion and Madeline were at the New Theatre and at the Little Theatre in New York. After their career on screen with Thanhouser, in the spring of 1917 they were seen in Florenz Ziegfelds’ Follies at the New Amsterdam Theatre in New York City. This presentation highlights the sister’s appearances on the screen utilizing clips from six surviving Thanhouser films and marketing ephemera featuring their likeness. We are lucky to have these extant films that provide a glimpse into how the Thanhouser marketing department exploited these two young stars to appeal to the emerging middle-class family pocketbook.

Ned Thanhouser is the grandson of silent film pioneers Gertrude and Edwin Thanhouser and is President of Thanhouser Company Film Preservation, Inc. Active in film preservation since 1986, he produced and directed in 2014 the award winning documentary film The Thanhouser Studio and the Birth of American Cinema.