2020-02-05 23:39:24 UTC
Lots of photos at the URL
Kirk Douglas, Hollywood Icon and Spartacus Star, Dies at 103
Kirk Douglas, one of the first box-office stars of the silver screen, has
died. He was 103.
The acting legend, who had been in good health since suffering a stroke in
1996, is survived by his wife of 65 years, Anne, and his sons Michael, Joel,
“It is with tremendous sadness that my brothers and I announce that Kirk
Douglas left us today at the age of 103,” Michael said in a statement
obtained by PEOPLE. “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.”
The actor continued, “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
“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.
“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
In December, Michael became a Golden Globe nominee for The Kominsky Method as
his father rang in his 103rd birthday.
To celebrate, Michael, 75, shared a sweet Instagram photo of his famous
father and himself, thanking the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for
nominating him on the same day as Kirk’s milestone birthday.
“What a great day. Thank you HFPA for the Golden Globes nomination and for
making my Dad proud on his 103 birthday!” Michael wrote.
In November 2018, Douglas attended Michael’s induction at the Hollywood
Walk of Fame in November — where the Basic Instinct star honored his
“It means so much to me, Dad, that you’re here today,” Michael said
tearing up. “Thank you for your advice, inspiration, and I’ll say it
simply and with all my heart: I’m so proud to be your son.”
RELATED: A Look Back at Kirk Douglas’s Incredible Rags-to-Riches Journey in
His Own Words
With over 92 acting credits, including some 75 movies, seven of which
co-starred his friend Burt Lancaster, Douglas became a superstar even before
the term was coined.
He received his first Academy Award nomination in 1950 for Champion, and was
nominated again in 1953 for the Hollywood expose The Bad and the Beautiful,
and once more in 1957 for his performance as Vincent Van Gogh in the biopic
Lust for Life.
In 1996, he was awarded an honorary Oscar for 50 years as a creative and
moral force in the motion picture community.
While Douglas’ on and off-screen bravado could be overpowering, and even
difficult at times, he was a man of heartfelt conviction, hiring blacklisted
screenwriter Dalton Trumbo — and giving him full-screen credit — to write
the 1960 epic Spartacus, in which Douglas starred and served as executive
“It was such a terrible, shameful time,” Douglas told PEOPLE about the
communist purge of the entertainment industry during the ’40s and 50’s.
“Dalton was in prison because he refused to answer questions, so I decided,
the hell with it! I’m going to put his name on it. I think that’s the
thing I’m most proud of because it broke the blacklist.”
A Difficult Childhood
As told in his 1988 autobiography, The Ragman’s Son, Douglas — who was
born Issur Danielovitch Demsky — was born the poor son of an illiterate
Douglas spoke about his father to PEOPLE, revealing that, “My father was
not very affectionate, he was never interested in what I was doing. I had six
sisters and no brothers and I wanted to be close to my father and he just
Instead, he says he found affection from his mother and became determined to
not be as distant with his children as his father was with him.
“I’m much more demonstrative with my kids about hugging and kissing them
and telling them that I love them,” he said. “My father wasn’t like
The actor, known as Izzy, had some 40 jobs growing up in Amsterdam, N.Y.,
including newsboy, before acting in high school plays sent him on the course
that would eventually make him a household name. He studied at Manhattan’s
American Academy of Dramatic Arts alongside classmate Lauren Bacall, who
later helped get him a screen test that led to his first movie role, opposite
Barbara Stanwyck, in 1946’s The Strange Love of Martha Ivers.
Another Academy classmate was Diana Dill, to whom Douglas would be married
from 1943 until their 1951 divorce. She is the mother of two of Douglas’s
sons, Michael, born in 1944, and Joel, born in 1947.
Heading a Hollywood family, though, was often as difficult as being in one.
As Michael has said on several occasions, including during his 1987 Best
Actor Oscar acceptance speech for Wall Street, growing up under so large a
shadow as Douglas’s was not always easy.
In 1979, Michael told PEOPLE, “Kirk Douglas was certainly a hard act to
follow. I mean, there he was hanging from the cross in Spartacus, walking
across the ranks of oars in The Vikings …” Added Kirk: “I think having
a famous father was a pain in the ass for him.”
The family patriarch also never wanted his son to follow in his footsteps.
“I didn’t want Michael to be an actor,” he told PEOPLE. “I wanted him
to be a lawyer or a doctor, like many fathers. But he’s a good actor,
he’s my favorite actor.”
As the years progressed, so did their relationship, even as the family faced
such adversities as the death of youngest Kirk’s son (and Michael’s
brother) Erik at age 46 in 2004, and the five-year prison sentence of
Michael’s son Cameron, in 2010, for drug dealing. That same year, Michael
was also diagnosed with throat cancer.
RELATED: Kirk Douglas, 101, Lovingly Gazes at 8-Month-Old Great-Granddaughter
in Sweet Generational Photo
But there were many good times, too, including Kirk’s joy at welcoming
Michael’s second wife, Catherine Zeta-Jones into the family, in a lavish
2000 wedding — and the birth of Michael and Catherine’s first child (they
have two), son Dylan, born Aug. 8, 2000.
“You know, Dylan has a dimple bigger than mine,” the proud grandpa told
PEOPLE. “[But] I think he looks more like Catherine. Catherine with a
dimple. Not bad!”
The legendary actor spent the last years of his life surrounded by his loved
ones including Cameron, who was released from prison in 2016 and welcomed his
first child, daughter Lua Izzy, in December 2017.
Lua Izzy was named in honor of Douglas and is his first great-grandchild.
He celebrated his 103rd birthday with his family — and several tributes
from his relatives including Michael and Catherine.
The actress shared an old shot of the two on her Instagram Monday to
celebrate the iconic actor’s latest milestone. The sweet picture, which
appears to be several years old, featured Kirk sitting on her lap as the two
smiled for the camera.
“This guy on my knee, is 103!!!!! Happy Birthday Pappy!!! I love you with
all my heart,” Zeta-Jones, 50, said.
For his 101st birthday, the star celebrated with two cakes: one decorated
with sunflowers in honor of his performance as Vincent Van Gogh in the film
Lust for Life, and the other depicting red boxing gloves that honored his
first Academy Award-nominated performance in Champion.
The actor was also paid a visit by Dame Judi Dench who told PEOPLE at the
time, “I will never forget this moment. He is a legend in our family.“
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