1920s london, academy awards, cafe society, douglas fairbanks jr, douglas fairbanks sr, errol flynn, heroes, jayar fairbanks, lady sylvia ashley, lord anthony ashley cooper, louie hawkes, oscars, paddington, sylvia hawkes
This year’s Academy Awards were as glamorous, moving and surprising as always, but this year they seemed slightly more elegant to me. While I enjoy a fabulous Cher outfit or a sloppy celebrity, I very much appreciate the level of old fashioned refinement and bygone grace that seems to have infused the awards show in the last few years. It’s almost like Oscar’s grown up a little and begun to harken back to the opulence and sophistication of the movie industry of yesteryear.
And while I normally love a montage, I was particularly disappointed by this years “Heros” representation. There was one very short clip of Errol Flynn, but not a single image of the original swashbuckler, Douglas Fairbanks. Not only that, but Silky’s second husband was one of the founders of the entire Academy Awards organization. How in blazes could they have completely left him out?! It boggles the mind…and heart.
When the Academy decided to award Fairbanks with an Oscar posthumously in 1940, Silky was still in mourning and didn’t trust herself in public yet. So she asked “Jayar” (Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.) to accept the award on behalf of his father. It seems there was a misunderstanding and Jayar was quite put out when Silky called to ask for the statuette the next day. Jayar thought Sylvia was going to let him keep it–which really would have been the proper thing to do, in my opinion. But I suppose her grief made her selfish and she wasn’t able to part with one sliver of her beloved Doug. So a rift rose between Silky and Jayar that never really mended.
This week’s photo is Sylvia’s headshot from her short stint on the London stage in the early 1920s, prior to her marriage to Lord Anthony Ashley-Cooper. I still marvel at how little Louie Hawkes from Paddington transformed herself into one of the most famous and celebrated Cafe Society hostesses of the 20th century, eventually becoming a bonafide princess.
I suppose I’ve stated it ad nausium, but it bears repeating as often as possible: Lady Sylvia Ashley was, and is, my hero.