Facts on Kirk Douglas, movie actor of Spartacus fame, who dies at 103

Facts on Kirk Douglas, movie actor of Spartacus fame, who dies at 103

Friday, February 7, 2020 1:07 pm


 

Kirk Douglas in Spartacus

Kirk Douglas as an old man

Ademola Adegbamigbe

Kirk Douglas, who played the leading role as Spartacus, in the eponymous 1960 American epic historical drama film, is dead. He was 103. In the movie, he leads a revolt of his fellow slaves against their Roman owners. As they break free, they plunder the country sides, even as more slaves join them. However, his revolt is crushed and he and his followers are crucified by the Roman authorities.
Michael, his son, posted news of Douglas’ demise on Instagram on 5 February: “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.
“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 said. “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.”
His son Michael announced the news in a statement posted on Instagram on Wednesday evening.
“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 statement said.

“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.”
Kirk Douglas: Hollywood’s impossibly handsome Colossus of Rhodes

“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 said. “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.”

FILE – This Aug. 9, 1962 file photo shows actor Kirk Douglas in New York. Douglas died Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020 at age 103. (AP Photo/DAB, File)

Born Issur Danielovitch Demsky to impoverished Russian-Jewish immigrants, Douglas, according to a report by The Guardian of London, estimated that he had worked as many as 40 jobs before finding fame as an actor. This hard-scrabble upbringing, according to the report, would come to define him. Even in moneyed middle-age, the actor had a reputation as a tough customer – both on-screen and off it. ‘I’ve made a career playing sons of bitches,’ he once admitted.

As news broke of Douglas’ death on Thursday, the film industry, as The Guardian put it, began expressing their condolences. Director Steven Spielberg said in a statement: “Kirk retained his movie star charisma right to the end of his wonderful life and I’m honored to have been a small part of his last 45 years. I will miss his handwritten notes, letters and fatherly advice, and his wisdom and courage – even beyond such a breathtaking body of work – are enough to inspire me for the rest of mine.”

The report has it further: “Douglas made his screen debut in the 1946 film The Strange Love of Martha Ivers before giving what would prove his breakthrough performance, playing opposite Robert Mitchum and Jane Greer in the classic film-noir Out of the Past. With his square jaw, cleft chin and ice-chip eyes, he went on to hone a ruthless, alpha-male image on such films as Champion, Ace in the Hole, I Walk Alone and The Bad and the Beautiful.

Yet Douglas was also shrewd enough to avoid the pitfalls of typecasting. In 1956 he attracted rave reviews for his impersonation of anguished Vincent Van Gogh in Vicente Minnelli’s Lust For Life. John Wayne, for his part, was horrified. “Christ, Kirk, how can you play a part like that?” he reportedly demanded. “We got to play strong, tough characters, not these weak queers.”

Douglas was similarly active behind the scenes. His production company, Bryna Productions, was instrumental in developing what would arguably prove to be his two greatest pictures – Paths of Glory and Spartacus, both directed by Stanley Kubrick.

Other key roles includes a swashbuckling turn in The Vikings and his performance as a doomed modern-day cowboy in 1962’s Lonely are the Brave. For good measure he made seven films opposite Burt Lancaster, running the gamut from Gunfight at the OK Corral to the political thriller Seven Days in May.

Douglas was Oscar nominated three times – for Champion, The Bad and the Beautiful and Lust For Life – but had to be content with the honorary award he was eventually given in 1995. In 1981 he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by his friend Jimmy Carter.
Kirk Douglas: ‘I never thought I’d live to 100. That’s shocked me’ By the 1970s Douglas’s star was on the wane. He was judged to be too old to play the role of rebellious RP McMurphy in his long-cherished mission to adapt the Ken Kesey novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. The film was later produced by his son Michael, with Jack Nicholson in the leading role.
Despite suffering a debilitating stroke in 1996, Douglas continued to be active. He made his final screen appearance in 2004 – playing a dying film director in the low budget drama Illusion – and appeared in a one man show, Before I Forget, at the Culver theatre in Culver City, California, in March 2009.” Continue reading the story in The Guardian of London

 

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