Hollywood great Kirk Douglas passes away as a much beloved figure throughout many eras of Hollywood history and has left us at the age of 103. He. The expression “end of an era” is frequently applied but in Kirk’s case it’s 100% true!
This inspiring and charismatic star from Tinseltown’s Golden Age had a career spanning 7 decades. Not only did he make his mark on the movie screen, he helped raise a show business dynasty. Surviving sons Michael, Joel and Peter all followed in their beloved father’s footsteps. Eric Douglas sadly passed in 2004 at 46.
The clan have led tributes to this towering talent which is a testament to the fact that Kirk Douglas passes away with much love in the hearts of his friends and family. Taking to Instagram, Michael described Kirk as “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. But to me and my brothers Joel and Peter he was simply Dad, to Catherine, a wonderful father-in-law, to his grandchildren and great grandchild their loving grandfather, and to his wife Anne, a wonderful husband.”
Anne Buydens married Kirk in 1954. Catherine is of course Catherine Zeta-Jones, who wrote “I shall love you for the rest of my life. I miss you already.”
“Let me end with the words I told him on his last birthday and which will always remain true,” Michael concluded. “Dad- I love you so much and I am so proud to be your son.”
Even Arnold Schwarzeneggar had some touching words to say about Kirk. They had acted in the film western comedy film The Villain together in 1979.
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Kirk Douglas was an icon. It’s hard to put into words what it meant to me to work with this legend who I grew up watching in Westerns in our little theater in Austria. He was larger than life to me – a real life hero. When we finally met on the set of The Villain, he couldn’t have been any sweeter to me. I was a new actor and he was the perfect mentor. He was already in his 60s but he was in unbelievable shape, and he could still jump off a trampoline into his horse’s saddle. I’ll always remember his lessons and our workouts together (back then actors trained secretly, so he’d pull his dumbbells out of his hiding place and we would do curls together). He was the perfect role model and my career wouldn’t have been the same without him. I will miss him dearly and my thoughts are with his family.
Born in New York 1916, his real name was Issur Danielovitch. Raised in poverty, his parents were Herschel and Bryna. Kirk never forgot his roots, calling his production company Bryna and titling his 1988 autobiography The Ragman’s Son.
Overcoming prejudice and relying on his wits, he soon appeared on the silver screen. Among his most famous roles were “Midge” Kelly in boxing drama Champion (1949), movie producer Jonathan Shields in The Bad and the Beautiful (1952) and Vincent Van Gogh in Lust for Life (1956). For all these movies he received Academy Award nominations. Eventually he received a Lifetime Achievement Oscar. He was also given the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
“I never thought I’d live to 100,” he told the Guardian in 2017. “I was not a tough guy [in real life], I just acted like one.” An interesting remark, given arguably his best known role Spartacus. On that production he was heroic both in front of camera and behind the scenes. Lauded for his decision to employ blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, the title character’s rallying cry of “I am Spartacus!” proved significant. Even today that iconic line is repeated around the world.
Kirk was acting in films up until 2004. He developed a successful writing career and became a keen philanthropist. Away from Hollywood stories of high drama, his own life was something of a nail biter.
Looking back, USA Today writes that in addition to physical injuries, “the emotional impact stayed with Douglas for his lifetime. Besides honoring the two men who had died, the actor was spurred to make changes in his life, especially in terms of stepping up his philanthropic work… During one discussion with a psychiatrist, Douglas remembered a poem he had written as a young man, ‘Life is a lock and death the only key’” The accident put the words he had written into context.”
He then suffered a stroke in 1996 and later wrote a book about his recovery, My Stroke of Luck. The picture of Kirk Douglas in recent years is of a devoted family man who achieved an extraordinary amount and who was grateful for his lot.
The Vintage News has written a lot about him in the past and we’re sure a lot will be written about him in the future. RIP Kirk Douglas, who passes away a legend!