Kirk Douglas, actor and Hollywood legend, dead at 103, family says

Kirk Douglas, one of the most famous American leading men of the mid-20th century remembered for his dimpled chin, chiseled features, and virile Hollywood roles, died Wednesday at the age of 103, his family announced. “It is with tremendous sadness that my brothers and I announce that Kirk Douglas left us today at the age of 103,” Kirk’s son, Michael Douglas, wrote in a statement shared to social media. He continued: “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. “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,” he added. Michael concluded his post by writing: “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.Let me end with the words I told him on his last birthday and which will always remain true. Dad- I love you so much and I am so proud to be your son.” The statement did not indicate exactly how or where he died. The 75-year-old actor also shared photos of his late father which included several sweet family photos. A World War II veteran who survived a helicopter crash, a stroke, and two knee replacements, Douglas literally rose from rags to riches — his father was a ragman — and starred in over 80 films, including, perhaps most famously, “Spartacus.” He remained in the public spotlight well into his old age, if not as an actor then as a producer, author, and blogger. Douglas was born Issur “Izzy” Danielovitch Demsky December 9, 1916, to Russian Jewish parents in Amsterdam, New York. His family was poor, and he claimed to have worked more than 40 jobs — including stints as a professional wrestler, a waiter, and a janitor — before becoming an actor. Loans, scholarships, and sweet-talking propelled the aspiring performer through St. Lawrence University and, eventually, the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City, where he studied alongside Lauren Bacall and his future wife Diana Dill, who would give birth to his first and most famous son, Michael, in 1944. After two small roles on Broadway under his new stage name, Kirk Douglas, and a few years in the Navy during World War II, he made his on-screen debut with a part in 1946’s “The Strange Love of Martha Ivers” at age 30. However, his big break came in 1949 when he starred as an ambitious boxer in the film noir classic “Champion,” which earned him his first of three Oscar nominations for Best Actor. The role cemented Douglas’ steely image, and with his distinctive raspy voice and piercing eyes he continued to take on intense, often cocky, characters in his films. He was once quoted as saying “I’ve made a career of playing sons of b—hes.” He played a ruthless Hollywood producer in “The Bad and Beautiful” (1952) and portrayed Vincent Van Gogh in “Lust for Life” (1956). Through his own company, Bryna Productions — named for his mother — Douglas also produced and starred in the Kubrick-directed “Paths of Glory” (1957) and, more famously, in “Spartacus” (1960). Douglas’ decision to give screen credit to “Spartacus'” blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo — one of the “Hollywood Ten” who testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1947 — helped bring an end to entertainment industry McCarthyism. After a divorce from his first wife in 1951, Douglas eloped with German-born publicist Anne Buydens in 1954, and despite affairs with fellow stars Joan Crawford, Marlene Dietrich and Pier Angeli, among others, he retained a reputation as a family man, increasingly devoted to his wife as he grew old.

Wow…  What a full life!  I remember seeing Spartacus as a kid.  To read the rest of this article, and see some pics of Kirk over the years, click on the text above.  Thanks Kirk.  R.I.P.

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