Actor Kirk Douglas, right, talks with his son actor Michael Douglas prior to the unveiling of Michael Douglas' star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles, California, on Nov 6, 2018. Photo: REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/File
entertainment

Hollywood legend Kirk Douglas dead at 103

32 Comments
By Bill Trott

Kirk Douglas, the cleft-chinned movie star who fought gladiators, cowboys and boxers on the screen and the Hollywood establishment, died on Wednesday at the age of 103, his son Michael Douglas said.

“It is with tremendous sadness that my brothers and I announce that Kirk Douglas left us today at the age of 103,” Michael Douglas said in a statement to People magazine and on his Facebook page.

“To the world, he was a legend, an actor from the golden age of movies who lived well into his golden years, a humanitarian whose commitment to justice and the causes he believed in set a standard for all of us to aspire to,” Douglas added.

“Kirk’s life was well lived, and he leaves a legacy in film that will endure for generations to come, and a history as a renowned philanthropist who worked to aid the public and bring peace to the planet,” Michael added, saying he was "so proud" to be his father's son.

Douglas made more than 90 movies in a career that stretched across seven decades and films such as "Paths of Glory," "Spartacus" and "The Vikings" made him one of the biggest box-office stars of the 1950s and '60s.

He also played a major role in breaking the Hollywood blacklist - actors, directors and writers who were shunned professionally because of links to the communist movement in the 1950s. Douglas said he was more proud of that than any film he made.

Tributes poured in from Hollywood. Actor and director Rob Reiner said on Twitter that Douglas "will always be an icon in the pantheon of Hollywood. He put himself on the line to break the blacklist."

Mitzi Gaynor, who appeared with Douglas in the 1963 movie "For Love or Money," said the film would "always hold a special place in my heart."

"Thank you for so generously sharing your amazing talent with all of us," Gaynor tweeted.

Danny DeVito called him an "inspirational Scallywag," while Ed Asner tweeted "I will always be in your awe."

A stroke in 1996 at age 80 left Douglas with slurred speech and damaged facial nerves. But two weeks later he showed his spirit by attending the Academy Awards ceremony to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award. He also continued to take small acting roles through 2008 but said the stroke left him suicidal.

"Humor saved me," Douglas told Parade magazine in 2014. "At first, I thought my life was at an end. But when I put the gun in my mouth, it hit a tooth. Ow! And that struck me funny. A toothache was stopping me from committing suicide?"

In one of his last public appearances, Douglas was frail and barely audible in a wheelchair as he helped daughter-in-law Catherine Zeta-Jones present the Oscar for best screenplay in January 2018. In November of that year he joined his son Michael as the younger Douglas was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Douglas had a distinctive chin, razor-sharp cheekbones and a jutting jaw - looks that he passed along to Michael - and that made him a natural for playing all manner of rugged characters.

He also had a demanding nature that earned him a reputation in his prime as the actor who directed directors. Long-time friend and sometime co-star Burt Lancaster loved to introduce him by saying, "Kirk would be the first to admit he is a difficult person. (Pause) I would be the second."

"I make my own way," Douglas once told an interviewer."Nobody's my boss. Nobody's ever been my boss ... I've been a maverick."

Douglas said playing Vincent van Gogh in "Lust for Life"(1956) was his favorite role but "Spartacus" (1960) was his favorite film because, as producer, he took a big step toward breaking the Hollywood blacklist.

The lifetime Oscar was Douglas' only Academy Award even though he was nominated for playing ruthless boxer Midge Kelly in "Champion" (1949), a movie executive in "The Bad and the Beautiful" (1952) and van Gogh in "Lust for Life."

Douglas' first movie was "The Strange Love of Martha Ivers," in 1946 after being suggested for the part by acting school classmate Betty Joan Perske, who became famous after changing her name to Lauren Bacall.

Douglas was known for powerful performances as characters who had to endure intense on-screen pain. He was stabbed in "Ace in the Hole," crucified in "Spartacus," lost an eye in "The Vikings," an ear in "Lust for Life," and a finger in "The Big Sky."

His other notable movies were "Lonely Are the Brave," "The Devil's Disciple," "Victory at Entebbe" and "Tough Guys," which he made with Lancaster in 1986.

Douglas' independent streak led him to set up Bryna Production Co, which he named after his mother, in 1955, snubbing big studio bosses and helping break their monopoly on the industry.

Born Issur Danielovich on Dec 9, 1916, in Amsterdam, New York, Douglas was the only son of seven children born to illiterate Russian immigrants.

After graduating from high school, he hitch-hiked to St Lawrence University in Canton, New York, where he became a wrestling champion. He also staged and starred in theatrical productions and changed his name to Izzy Demsy.

After St. Lawrence, he graduated from New York's American Academy of Dramatic Arts in 1941 and changed his name to Kirk Douglas. He joined the Navy following two small Broadway roles.

While in the Navy he married British actress Diana Dill and they had two sons, Michael and Joel, before the marriage ended after eight years.

Douglas had a reputation as a Hollywood ladies' man. Among the lovers listed in the 1988 book "The Ragman's Son," one of several books he wrote about his life, were Joan Crawford, Marlene Dietrich, Rita Hayworth, Marilyn Maxwell, Patricia Neal and Gene Tierney.

While making "Act of Love," Douglas met and Anne Buydens, the film's publicist, and they married in 1954. Their marriage became one of Hollywood's most enduring despite his affairs. They had two sons, Peter and Eric.

Douglas, who survived a 1991 helicopter crash that killed two people, tried to discourage his children from following him into acting. Still, Michael became a star and a successful producer, Joel and Peter also were producers and Eric was an actor until his 2004 death from a drug overdose.

"You see how they listened to me," Douglas once said.

Douglas, who grew a long white ponytail in his later years, published several books, including a book of poetry, prose and photographs in 2014 and “Kirk and Anne: Letters of Love, Laughter and a Lifetime in Hollywood," in 2017 with his wife.

He established the Douglas Foundation for making charitable donations and in 2015 he and Anne announced plans to give away his $80 million fortune to a variety of causes. The beneficiaries included a shelter for homeless women named after Anne, the Los Angeles public school district, St. Lawrence University and hospitals.

To mark his 99th birthday in 2015 he donated $15 million to the Motion Picture and Television Fund to help build a facility for entertainment industry figures with Alzheimer’s disease.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2020.

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

32 Comments
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Been expecting this for a good few years but am genuinely gutted.

A great old school actor and fascinating person. We shall not see the likes of him again.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Amazing life and a great innings. Star of the real silver screen.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

Douglas' "Paths of Glory," in which he starred and produced (Stanley Kubrick was director) was unquestionably the greatest anti-war film ever made. It can be viewed on YouTube. Even if you don't watch the entire film, the final scene is worth watching. It also shows how superficial Hollywood films, with their obligatory explosions and car chase scenes, have become.

Thank you, Mr. Danielovitch. RIP

6 ( +6 / -0 )

allot of nepotism in Hollywood with son or daughter getting leading roles but I must say his son never disappoints in any of his films like black rain.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

One of the last Real Hollywood legends. RIP, Mr D.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Another legend gone for good!

8 ( +8 / -0 )

RIP. Another Hollywood legend.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

His portrayal of Ned Land was an amazing 'Whale of a Tale!'

My childhood imagination thanks you dearly Mr. Douglas. RIP.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

A "healthy age".

He will not be forgotten!

So many great movies that I remember from years ago.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

As more of these legends that I grew up watching pass away, the farther away the Golden Age of Hollywood seems to get.

Also our own deaths seem to be getting more imminent.

RIP, Mr. Dimple Chin.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

RIP sir. you will be sorely missed by many.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

I'm Spartacus!

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Wonderful man and a legendary actor! Loved him in Seven Days in May.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

RIP. A very long and successful run, but alas, the curtain comes down for us all. One of the greats.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Douglas' "Paths of Glory," in which he starred and produced (Stanley Kubrick was director) was unquestionably the greatest anti-war film ever made.

Echo that. (along with Renoir's Grand Illusion). RIP Mr. Douglas

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I have one computer that my wife gave me. All I know how to do, and I do it every day, is play Spider Solitaire. And I don't have a cell phone.

Kirk Douglas
1 ( +1 / -0 )

Even if you don't watch the entire film, the final scene is worth watching. It also shows how superficial Hollywood films, with their obligatory explosions and car chase scenes, have become.

Definitely!

Never heard anyone mention the final scene before. What’s your take on what’s going on?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I'm Spartacus!

No! I am Spartacus!

But no-one was like Kirk Douglas, a unique actor and a real Star. A tough guy, sure, but also a sensitive actor who embodied all that was best about the Old Hollywood in the same way as his good buddy Burt Lancaster, another "tough guy" actor capable of great sensitivity and depth.

A great innings, and a permanent entry in the acting Hall of Fame.
4 ( +4 / -0 )

I'll never forget watching Spartacus for the first time as a kid on TV. An amazing movie that inspired me.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Kirk's life was the epitome of the American dream. He was a flawed young man, but became a real mensch as he aged earning much respect for his striving to do the right thing by others. His most memorable roles have become the stuff of movie legends.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

RIP...

Too bad, we don't have Spartacus in real life in US. We desperately need one...

Seems Kirk has some Japanese long life DNA...

2 ( +5 / -3 )

What’s your take on what’s going on?

A captured German woman is humiliated, forced to sing a song ("The Faithful Hussar') in front of a platoon of tipsy French troops who make shrill, lewd remarks and whistle at her. But they know the tune and begin humming along. Realizing they will soon return to the trenches and almost certain death, they are reminded how much they miss their own families and begin weeping. It's extremely touching. Ironically most of the extras in the film who played French soldiers were actually Germans, because Douglas couldn't get permission to shoot in France, and the film was banned there for decades. Oh, and director Kubrick married the actress who sang the song.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

One of the true real legends of Hollywood, one of the last fo a generation that defined what real men and real acting was. My dad was a huge fan of Douglas and Spartacus, must’ve seen it 200 times, never got tired of that movie, he was versatile and just classy, something that Hollywood lacks, what a shame, but he did live a very, very long life and I don’t think it’s something to be sad about, if I could get as old, but he will be remembered and missed and thank you, Mr. Douglas for all the wonderful memories.

Rest In Peace.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Class act. Cracking innings. Left great performances for people to watch.

Wish I was Spartacus.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Too bad, we don't have Spartacus in real life in US. We desperately need one...

Oh I don't know. Slaves in ancient Rome had nothing to lose. The average American seems happy enough, as long as they have distractions like the Super Bowl (especially the halftime performances) and Marvel Comix heroes. And Twitter.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Still a handsome man at 100+. Second all the positive comments above.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Thats a great father / son photo with the article .

I make my own way," Douglas once told an interviewer."Nobody's my boss. Nobody's ever been my boss ... I've been a maverick."

Gotta love that.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

A great actor and a brave human.

Son of Jewish immigrants who faced discrimination but still managed to make his way to the top.

He helped end the Hollywood blacklist, something that required great courage in those paranoid days.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

We will all remember Mr. Douglas in "Spartacus".

1 ( +1 / -0 )

He was wonderful as Vincent van Gogh in the film Lust for Life 1956. My favourite film of his.

He showed that he could truly act along with the best.

He was also brilliant in Action Films such as The Vikings 1958.

And he was just a Nice Person too.

Rest In Peace Kirk.

You gave us and continue to give us so much enjoyment.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@NCIS Reruns

A captured German woman is humiliated, forced to sing a song ("The Faithful Hussar') in front of a platoon of tipsy French troops who make shrill, lewd remarks and whistle at her. But they know the tune and begin humming along. Realizing they will soon return to the trenches and almost certain death, they are reminded how much they miss their own families and begin weeping. It's extremely touching. Ironically most of the extras in the film who played French soldiers were actually Germans, because Douglas couldn't get permission to shoot in France, and the film was banned there for decades. Oh, and director Kubrick married the actress who sang the song.

Was this your “take”? It looks copy/paste.

I never researched it and always assumed it was a children’s lullaby that transcended borders and languages.

interesting history of the song which possibly dates back to 1781.

A source claims, that in the estate of Caspar Josef Carl von Mylius [de] (1749–1831) a handwritten version of the text from 1781 was found, that Mylius brought from Austria to Cologne.[1] The proof was found after his death in 1831. This version is supposedly the oldest ever. Since this version obviously has not been published, the exact wording and the correspondence with later versions can not currently be verified.

If it was a song from the heart, the War of the Bavarian Succession  3 July 1778 – 21 May 1779 could have been its inspiration.

thanks.

Invalid CSRF

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I am very very very sorry, 7 decdes, thats a long time.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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