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Kirk Douglas Turns 102! What Friends and Family Say About him Today

Nancy Bilyeau
Photo by Getty Images

Kirk Douglas turned age 102 on December 9th, and to honor him, his daughter-in-law, Catherine Zeta Jones, posted a video slideshow on Instagram featuring moments from his life, paired with a piano performance of Christina Aguilera’s song “Beautiful.”

The video focused on personal photos, black and white — a few from films but most showing Kirk with his children, grandchildren, and wife. A girl, who some say is Michael Douglas and Zeta-Jones’ daughter, Carys, plays the piano and sings Aguilera’s song.

Kirk Douglas.

Kirk Douglas.

Zeta-Jones captioned the post, “Happy 102nd birthday to the most beautiful man. We love you Kirk.”

According to CNN, Michael Douglas gave his own emotional tribute to his father when the younger Douglas received his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in November. “It means so much to me, Dad, that you’re here today,” Michael Douglas said. “Thank you for your advice, inspiration, and I’ll say it simply, with all my heart: I’m so proud to be your son.”

Kirk Douglas.

Kirk Douglas.

Michael also recently told People magazine that Kirk remains skilled at sports betting.

“He beats me all the time,”  the actor said. “The last bet I made with him was for $100 on a Jets game — and I lost.”

Other members of the family paid tribute to the incredible age of Kirk Douglas on his birthday.

Adolphe Menjou (left) and Kirk Douglas (right) in Paths of Glory (1957).

Adolphe Menjou (left) and Kirk Douglas (right) in Paths of Glory (1957).

Michael and Zeta-Jones’ son Dylan, 18, posted a snap of Kirk boxing when he was a young actor. “Happy birthday Pappy 102 years!!! Though you are adored by millions, my love for you is by far the greatest. Love you forever and always,” he wrote.

USA Today took the occasion to point out some things that took place the day when Kirk Douglas was born: Coca-Cola introduced the formula it still uses, Woodrow Wilson was elected to a second term as president, and Montana elected Jeannette Rankin to Congress, making her the first female representative.

In the Broadway play ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ (1963).

In the Broadway play ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ (1963).

Douglas was born with the name Issur Danielovitch in Amsterdam, New York, to parents who immigrated from Russia and spoke Yiddish at home. The name of his eventual autobiography was The Ragman’s Son.

Over the weekend, the city of Amsterdam celebrated his birthday by unveiling a historic plaque marking the house where he grew up.

Original studio production still of Stanley Kubrick directing Kirk Douglas in film Spartacus (1960).

Original studio production still of Stanley Kubrick directing Kirk Douglas in film Spartacus (1960).

“Fans, Amsterdam history buffs and a few family members of the big screen legend gathered at the corner of Eagle and East Main streets, where the historic marker will be placed, once a pole is made available for it,” reported The Daily Gazette.

Kirk Douglas.

Kirk Douglas.

“Robert von Hasseln, president of the Historic Amsterdam League (HAL), acted as master of ceremonies for the unveiling of the plaque. Douglas was born Dec. 9, 1916, to parents living at 46 Eagle St., which still stands as the last house on a dead-end street, and he rose from poverty to appear in over 90 films in Hollywood.”

Douglas with Zubin Mehta, March 2011. Photo by Angela George CC BY SA 3.0

Douglas with Zubin Mehta, March 2011. Photo by Angela George CC BY SA 3.0

“Couldn’t it have his real name on there too?” asked one of the people gathered for the event, referencing Douglas’ birth name, Issur Danielovitch, which he changed when he became an actor.

Von Hasseln said unfortunately only a limited number of words could fit on the plaque.

Photo by Getty Images

Photo by Getty Images

Kirk Douglas is seen as one of the last surviving stars of Hollywood’s Golden Age. He was the star of Spartacus, The Bad and the Beautiful, Lust for Life, Paths of Glory, Seven Days in May, and many other films.

Read another story from us: The Remarkable Life of the Oldest Woman to Ever Live

On his 90th birthday, he said, “My name is Kirk Douglas. You may know me. If you don’t . . . Google me. I was a movie star and I’m Michael Douglas’s dad, Catherine Zeta-Jones’ father-in-law and the grandparent of their two children.”


Nancy Bilyeau, a former staff editor at Entertainment Weekly, Rolling Stone, and InStyle, has written a trilogy of Tudor-era thrillers for Touchstone Books. Her new book, The Blue, is a spy story set in the 18th-century porcelain and art world. For more information, go to www.nancybilyeau.com