Kirk Douglas has a birthday soon, he turns 103 next month on December 9! The veteran’s veteran had his wilder moments both onscreen and off, though this year will be a little quieter than usual.
Appearing on Jimmy Kimmel Live, son Michael spoke about what it was like celebrating milestones with a centenarian. These days Douglas Sr is in no mood to paint the town red. The prospect of his 102nd birthday made Kirk shed a tear. Michael said, “he’s begging me, he’s got tears down his eyes. ‘Let’s just have dinner, the family together. Bring the kids.’”
Quoted by Vanity Fair, daughter in law Catherine Zeta Jones commented, “We are a very, very, very close family; we share everything. We put aside the iconic image that is associated, quite rightly so, to Kirk Douglas.” So to hear the head of the clan wants nothing more than to sit down with those closest to him on his special day is actually typical of the Hollywood legend.
Restraint wasn’t a byword for Douglas in previous years, according to the Telegraph. When he hit 100, he entered his big party “With boxing gloves in every centerpiece and the theme from ‘Rocky’ blaring over the speakers”. One motivating factor was the promise of a glass of vodka, a reward from his doctor for reaching the century!
Michael jokes about his father but the love is clearly there. At the 100th celebration he said, “After all he accomplished in his professional career and what he’s given for his country, at the point in his life where he’s faced adversity, losing a son, having a helicopter crash, having a stroke, and what he’s accomplished in this third act in his life, I find quite extraordinary.” The lost son was Eric, who passed away in 2004 from an accidental drug overdose.
Steven Spielberg was just one of the guests in attendance. With Michael looking on fondly, he remarked “I wanted to come here and say I’ve been shooting movies and television shows for now 47 years and I’ve worked with the best of them and you’re the only movie star I ever met.”
Spielberg praised Kirk’s onscreen charisma, which he sees as second to none. A link of the strange kind was made by Neatorama, who wrote this about the fish-shaped star of Jaws: “His eyes crossed. His teeth were too white. His jaws didn’t close properly. And he had a big dimple that made him look like Kirk Douglas”! Could the director have subconsciously fashioned Bruce the shark in Kirk’s image?
For his 101st birthday party, he had not one but 2 cakes. One with fondant boxing gloves and an image of his face, tributing 1949’s Champion. The other was covered in sunflowers, a reference to Kirk’s Van Gogh picture Lust For Life (1956).
Michael is sometimes on the receiving end of good-natured ribbing. He amused Kimmel’s audience by showing them a letter from Dad congratulating him on his bronze wedding anniversary (to Jones). “Michael, you learned a very important lesson,” he wrote, “to stay married you must obey your wife!”
Though Kirk made a name for himself as a womanizer he finally settled down with philanthropist and producer Anne Buydens. They’ve been married since 1954 and she too has passed the hundred mark. Michael quipped that she hates to be reminded of it.
Not that he’s immune to old age. During the interview he mentioned how a movie-related snafu put him in hot water at Marvel. Douglas Jr told people there was going to be an Ant-Man 3 when the studio had forbidden him to do so. “I forget!” he admitted. He’s played the character of Hank Pym in the franchise since 2015.
Kirk’s last big screen role was in 2004’s Illusion, which featured Bryan Cranston. He still works as a writer, releasing numerous volumes such as novels and memoirs.
Happy soon-to-be-birthday Kirk Douglas!