Renowned actor, producer, and director Kirk Douglas passed away February 5, in Los Angeles at the age of 103. His son, Michael Douglas, announced his father’s passing on his Instagram account.
Kirk Douglas survived a 1991 helicopter crash and a severe stroke in 1996 before retiring from movie-making in 2004 after over 80 films. Though he is best known for movies like Spartacus (1960), as well as his Oscar-nominated performances in Champion (1949), The Bad and the Beautiful (1952), and Lust for Life (1956), Douglas began—like so many do—on the stage.
He made his Broadway debut in Spring Again in 1941 at Henry Miller’s Theatre (now the Sondheim). The following year he appeared in the ensemble of The Three Sisters. Douglas continued to work consistently on Broadway from 1943–1946 in Kiss and Tell, Trio, Alice in Arms, The Wind Is Ninety, and Woman Bites Dog. After a nearly two-decade hiatus, he returned to the Main Stem in 1963 as Randle P. McMurphy in the stage adaptation of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. It would be his last time on Broadway. He retained the film rights but ultimately gave them to his son, Michael, who oversaw the Academy Award–winning movie (ultimately based on the Ken Kesey novel rather than the play). By the time the film was made, Douglas was deemed too old for the role, which won Jack Nicholson an Oscar.
Born Issur Danielovitch Demsky Decemeber 9, 1916, in Amsterdam, New York, Douglas was one of seven children. He worked as a custodian to put himself through St. Lawrence University. After graduation, he came to New York City and received a special scholarship to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, where he graduated in 1941. He enlisted in the Navy in 1942, attending the Midshipman School at Notre Dame. Throughout his lifetime, Douglas was awarded with an Oscar Honorary Award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Cecil B. DeMille Award, BAFTA’s Britannia Award, a SAG Lifetime Achievement Award, a Kennedy Center Honor, and the American Award for his humanitarian efforts. He was nominated for three Golden Globes, winning one for Lust for Life; Douglas was also nominated for three Primetime Emmy Awards during his career.
He wrote 11 books beginning with his memoir, The Ragman’s Son, released in 1988. In March 2009, Douglas starred in an autobiographical one-man show, Before I Forget, at the Center Theater Group’s Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City. Douglas also wrote the documentary of the same name.
He is survived by his sons Michael, Joel, Peter, and Eric, and his wife Anne Buydens.
View this post on Instagram
It is with tremendous sadness that my brothers and I announce that Kirk Douglas left us today at the age of 103. 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. 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. #KirkDouglas