Known for his iconic movie roles and charismatic persona, legendary actor Kirk Douglas has been in the spotlight since the 1940s. We take a look at his illustrious life and career that spans over seven decades.
Douglas was born Issur Danielovitch in Amsterdam, New York, U.S., on Dec. 9, 1916. His parents Bryna and Herschel Danielovitch were Jewish immigrants from Chavusy (now in Belarus). An exceptional student and a keen athlete, he developed an interest in acting after taking part in school plays. His skills were later honed at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.
Just before enlisting in the U.S. Navy in 1941, he legally changed his name to Kirk Douglas. Three years later, he was medically discharged due to war injuries.
After returning from World War II, Douglas started working in radio, theater and commercials. He got his big break in Hal Wallis’ film “The Strange Love of Martha Ivers” (1946), opposite Barbara Stanwyck (pictured). His portrayal of a young, alcoholic man married to a domineering, older woman was widely lauded.
Following rave reviews, Douglas’ career took off and he worked in films such as “Out of the Past” (1947, pictured), “Mourning Becomes Electra” (1947), “The Walls of Jericho” (1948), “My Dear Secretary” (1948) and “A Letter to Three Wives” (1949).
The actor earned his first Academy Award nomination for the film “Champion” (1949), in which he played a selfish boxer.
Douglas’ stature as a major box-office star was firmly established during the 1950s and 1960s. “Young Man with a Horn” (1950), “Along the Great Divide” (1951), “Ace in the Hole” (1951, pictured; which won the Best Foreign Film Award at the Venice Film Festival) and “Detective Story” (1951) were some of his memorable films from the early 1950s.
The actor received his second Best Actor Oscar nomination for “The Bad and the Beautiful” (1952), in which he starred alongside Lana Turner (pictured).
In 1955, Douglas formed his own film company, Bryna Productions. Named after his mother, it produced films such as “Paths of Glory” (1957), “The Vikings” (1958, pictured), “Spartacus” (1960), “Lonely are the Brave” (1962) and “Seven Days in May” (1964) – he starred in all of them.
His portrayal of Vincent van Gogh in Vincente Minnelli’s “Lust for Life” (1956) was well appreciated by critics, and he received a Best Actor Oscar nomination for his performance.
The actor created history in 1960 when he worked with – and gave full credit to – screenwriter Dalton Trumbo in the film “Spartacus” (pictured) and effectively brought an end to the Hollywood blacklist, a practice that denied employment to screenwriters, actors, directors and musicians accused of supporting or having communist ties.
Douglas also starred in a Broadway production of Ken Kesey’s “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” (pictured) in 1963. It was later made into a feature film, produced by Kirk’s son Michael Douglas. The movie, starring Jack Nicholson, won five Oscars in 1976.
The cleft-chinned actor was known for playing military men in many films, including “Town Without Pity” (1961, pictured), “The Hook” (1963), “Heroes of Telemark” (1965) and “Is Paris Burning?” (1966).
A few of Douglas’ other memorable works from the ’60s include films such as “The List of Adrian Messenger” (1963), “For Love or Money” (1963), “The Way West” (1967) and “The Arrangement” (1969, pictured).
His film appearances were limited in the 1970s. Some notable mentions include “There Was a Crooked Man…” (1970, pictured), “The Master Touch” (1972) and “The Fury” (1978).
In 1973, the actor made his directorial debut with “Scalawag” (pictured). The film followed a peg-legged pirate in his hunt for treasure with the help of a young boy, a girl and a parrot.
Two years later, Douglas directed his second and final film “Posse” (1975, pictured). It premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival, where the actor was nominated for the Golden Bear.
In the ’80s, Douglas was seen in “Saturn 3” (1980, pictured), “The Final Countdown” (1980), “The Man from Snowy River” (1982), “Eddie Macon’s Run” (1983) and “Draw!” (1984).
In 1986, the actor appeared alongside his longtime co-star Burt Lancaster (L) in the crime comedy “Tough Guys.” The duo had earlier worked in movies such as “I Walk Alone” (1948), “Gunfight at the O.K. Corral” (1957), “Seven Days in May” (1964) and “Victory at Entebbe” (1976).
In the 1990s, Douglas acted in films such as “Oscar” (1991) and “Greedy” (1994, pictured). He also appeared in TV movies and documentaries, including “The Secret” (1992) and “The Simpsons” (1996).
A severe stroke in 1996 impaired Douglas’ ability to speak. However, after undergoing years of voice therapy, he returned to movies and starred in “Diamonds” (1999) along with his longtime friend Lauren Bacall (pictured).
The veteran actor’s projects in the 2000s included films such as “It Runs in the Family” (2003, pictured), which featured several members of the Douglas family, and “Illusion” (2004). He was also seen in the TV movie “Empire State Building Murders” in 2008.
In 2009, Douglas performed an autobiographical one-man show “Before I Forget” in Culver City, California, U.S. The four acts were later turned into a documentary, which was screened in January 2010.
(Pictured) Douglas’s son Michael and daughter-in-law Catherine Zeta-Jones at the premiere of “Before I Forget” at Culver City on March 6, 2009.
In a rare appearance, the veteran actor was joined by Catherine Zeta-Jones at the 2018 Golden Globes to present the Best Screenplay – Motion Picture award.
The actor has also authored a number of books, including his autobiography “The Ragman’s Son” (1988).
A dedicated philanthropist and humanitarian, Douglas has been a Goodwill Ambassador for the U.S. State Department since 1963. For his work, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1981 as well as the Jefferson Award in 1983.
An avid blogger, he began writing on Myspace in 2007. Since 2012, his posts have been hosted by the Huffington Post.
The actor has married twice. His first wife was Diana Dill (pictured) from 1943 to 1951, with whom he has two sons – actor Michael Douglas and producer Joel Douglas.
After his divorce from Dill, he married actress and producer Anne Buydens (pictured) in 1954. The couple has two sons – producer Peter Douglas and late actor Eric Douglas, who died in 2004. In a 2016 article for Closer Weekly magazine, the actor revealed that it is his wife Anne that keeps him going after 100 years. He wrote, “I was lucky enough to find my soulmate 63 years ago.”
Douglas passed away on Feb. 5, 2020. His actor son Michael released a statement that said, in part, “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.”
(Pictured) Kirk Douglas in Los Angeles during a party celebrating his 100th birthday.
Legendary actor Kirk Douglas has been laid to rest, two days after the icon from Hollywood’s Golden Era died at age 103.
Douglas’ wife of 65 years, Anne Buydens, who arrived in a wheelchair, led the mourners at the Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park and Mortuary in Los Angeles, according to People.com, which ran photographs before the service.
© Chris Pizzello, Invision/AP
Actor Kirk Douglas, center, gets a kiss from his son Michael Douglas, left, and Michael’s wife Catherine Zeta-Jones during his 100th birthday party at the Beverly Hills Hotel on Friday, Dec. 9. 2016, in Beverly Hills, Calif.
The “Sparticus” stars’ three surviving sons, actor Michael Douglas, Peter and Joel, were in attendance along with Michael Douglas’ wife Catherine Zeta-Jones.
Director Steven Spielberg, who thanked Douglas for his “fatherly advice” following the actor’s death, was in attendance wearing dark sunglasses and a dark suit, according to TMZ.
Grandson Cameron Douglas, who was in attendance, posted a tribute on Instagram Friday.
“The King,” Cameron Douglas wrote beneath a picture of Kirk. “You will be sorely missed, but your run was nothing short of perfection! There are no words adequate to express the Love and reverence that I feel towards you. Your legacy lives on through the ages; as will my connection with you.”
It was Michael Douglas who broke the news of his father’s passing with a post on Instagram, just days after his 103 birthday. “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.”
Michael 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 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 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 son.”
Related slideshow: People we lost in 2020 (Provided by Photo services)
Kirk Douglas (Dec. 9, 1916 – Feb. 5, 2020)
Known for his iconic movie roles and charismatic persona, legendary actor Kirk Douglas was in the spotlight since the 1940s. Born Issur Danielovitch in New York to immigrant parents, Douglas began acting as a young man and focused on it after a medical discharge from service in World War II. He specialized in tough-guy roles and was a major box-office star throughout the 1950s and 1960s. Some of his best-known films were “Champion,” “The Bad and the Beautiful,” “Lust for Life,” “Gunfight at the O.K. Corral” and “Spartacus.” Douglas is survived by his wife of 65 years, Anne, and his sons Michael, Joel, and Peter. In a statement son Michael said, “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.”
Daniel arap Moi (Sept. 2, 1924 – Feb. 4, 2020)
The former Kenyan president died aged 95. The news of his death was announced by Uhuru Kenyatta, Kenya’s current president. “Our nation and our continent were immensely blessed by the dedication and service of the Late Mzee Moi; who spent almost his entire adult life serving Kenya and Africa,” Kenyatta said in a statement. Moi was the second and longest-serving president of Kenya. He was in office for 24 years, serving from 1978 to 2002. He led the country during the struggle of independence and economic turmoil.
George Steiner (April 23, 1929 – Feb. 3, 2020)
The literary critic, essayist and Holocaust survivor died at the age of 90 in Cambridge, England. “The Death of Tragedy” (1961), “After Babel” (1975) and “The Poetry of Thought” (2011) are some of his notable works. Steiner served as senior book reviewer for the New Yorker from 1966 to 1997. He also contributed to the Times Literary Supplement and the Guardian, among other publications. His honors include the Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur by the French government, membership in the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Truman Capote Award for lifetime achievement in literary criticism.
Willie Wood (Dec. 23, 1936 – Feb. 3, 2020)
The Green Bay Packers player died of natural causes at the age of 83 in Washington, D.C., U.S. Wood suffered from advanced dementia for more than a decade. He won first or second-team All-National Football League (NFL) honors nine times from 1962 to 1970 season. Wood also participated in Pro Bowl eight times and played in six NFL championship games, of which Packers won all except the one in 1960.
Mary Higgins Clark (Dec. 24, 1927 – Jan. 31, 2020)
The author, known as the “Queen of Suspense,” died at the age of 92 in Naples, Florida, U.S. Her publisher, Simon & Schuster, confirmed her death in a tweet and wrote: “She passed away peacefully this evening at the age of 92 surrounded by family and friends.” Some of Clark’s notable works include “Where Are the Children” (1975), “A Stranger Is Watching” (1977), “Loves Music, Loves to Dance” (1991) and “You Don’t Own Me” (2018). Some of her books have also been adapted into television films. “Nobody ever bonded more completely with her readers than Mary did. She understood them as if they were members of her own family,” her longtime editor Michael Korda said in a statement.
John Andretti (March 12, 1963 – Jan. 30, 2020)
The NASCAR racer died at the age of 56 after battling with cancer since 2017. Andretti Autosport, an auto racing team owned by Andretti’s cousin, confirmed the news. The statement read, “It [is] with the heaviest of hearts we share that John Andretti has today lost his battle with cancer. John was a loving husband and father, a devoted son and a trusted cousin. He was a philanthropist, an advocate for the sport, a dedicated teammate, a driven competitor and most importantly a dear friend.” He won two NASCAR Cup Series, in 1997 and 1999, and was also the first driver to attempt the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600 doubleheader in 1994.
Marj Dusay (Feb. 20, 1936 – Jan. 28, 2020)
The soap opera actress, who was known for sitcoms such as “Days of Our Lives” (1992-93), “All My Children” (1998-2002) and “Guiding Light” (1987-2009), passed away at the age of 83. The news of her death was confirmed by her stepdaughter, Elizabeth Perine, in a Facebook post. “I’m so very sad to have to tell you that my stepmother Marj passed away peacefully yesterday morning in her sleep,” Perine wrote. Dusay was also known for her appearance in the TV show “Star Trek: The Original Series” (1968), where she played an alien who stole Spock’s brain.
Kobe Bryant (Aug. 23, 1978 – Jan. 26, 2020)
The basketball legend and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were among nine people killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, U.S. He was 41. The National Basketball Association (NBA) superstar played his entire 20-year career with the L.A. Lakers, where he distinguished himself as an 18-time All-Star, 15-time member of the All-NBA Team, and was the NBA’s Most Valuable Player in 2008. He also led the NBA in scoring during two seasons. Bryant married wife Vanessa in 2001 and together the two had four daughters, born between 2003 and 2019. In 2018, Bryant won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film for his film “Dear Basketball.”
John Karlen (May 28, 1933 – Jan. 22, 2020)
The American actor died of congestive heart failure at a hospice in Burbank, California, U.S. He was 86. Karlen is known for his roles on “Dark Shadows” (1967-71) and “Cagney & Lacey” (1982-88, for which he won an Emmy). Some of his other works include “Murder, She Wrote” (1989-95) and “Quincy M.E.” (1979-81).
Terry Jones (Feb. 1, 1942 – Jan. 21, 2020)
The comedian, actor, writer and former “Monty Python” star died aged 77 following a long battle with dementia. According to a statement released by his family, Jones passed away “with his wife Anna Soderstrom by his side after a long, extremely brave but always good humoured battle with a rare form of dementia, FTD… his work with Monty Python, his books, films, television programmes, poems and other work will live on forever, a fitting legacy to a true polymath.”
David Olney (March 23, 1948 – Jan. 18, 2020)
The singer-songwriter died of an apparent heart attack while performing at a music festival in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, U.S., according to a statement on his official website. He was 71. Singer Amy Rigby, who was performing alongside Onley, wrote on Facebook, “Olney was in the middle of his third song when he stopped, apologized, and shut his eyes.” Besides writing songs that were recorded by Del McCoury, Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt and Steve Young, among others, Olney also delivered studio albums like “Omar’s Blues” (2000), “Migration” (2005) and “When the Deal Goes Down” (2014).
Khagendra Thapa Magar (Oct. 14, 1992 – Jan. 17, 2020)
Magar, the world’s shortest man who could walk, died aged 27 in Pokhara, Nepal. He had been suffering from pneumonia, his brother told AFP. The Guinness World Records (GWR) recognized Magar, who measured two-foot 2.41-inches (67.08 centimeters), as the world’s shortest living mobile man in 2010. The popularity turned him into a star in his country and he was made an official face of Nepal’s tourism campaign. Expressing grief at his passing, Craig Glenday, GWR editor-in-chief, said that Magar “didn’t let his small size stop him from getting the most out of life.”
Derek Fowlds (Sept. 2, 1937 – Jan. 17, 2020)
The British actor died at the Royal United Hospital in Bath, England, at the age of 82. The actor was “suffering from pneumonia that led to heart failure caused by sepsis,” his family said in a statement issued to the media. Fowlds was best known for playing the inimitable Bernard Wooley in the TV show “Yes Minister” (1980-84) and its sequel “Yes, Prime Minister” (1986-88). Besides the iconic role, Fowlds also had memorable appearances in shows such as “Heartbeat” (1992-2009), “The Basil Brush Show” (1969-73) and “Firm Friends” (1992-94).
Rocky Johnson (Aug. 24, 1944 – Jan. 15, 2020)
The WWE Hall of Fame wrestler and father of actor Dwayne Johnson died at the age of 75. Johnson was born as Wayde Douglas Bowles and was also known as the “Soul Man.” “WWE extends its condolences to Johnson’s family, friends and fans,” the organization said.
Norma Michaels (1925 – Jan. 11, 2020)
The character actress with a career spanning six decades died at the age of 95 at her home in Palm Springs, California, U.S, according to a statement made by a spokesperson. She was best known for her role as Josephine on TV series “King of Queens” (2004-06). She also appeared in TV series and films such as “Everybody Loves Raymond” (2004), “Wedding Crashers” (2005), “You Don’t Mess with the Zohan” (2008), “Modern Family” (2010) and “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” (2016).
Stan Kirsch (July 15. 1968 – Jan. 11, 2020)
Best known for playing Richie Ryan in the TV series “Highlander” (1992-98), Kirsch died at his home in Los Angeles, California, U.S. According to the coroner’s office of the Los Angeles County, he committed suicide. Confirming the news of his death via Facebook, the actor’s wife, Kristyn Green, thanked everyone for their “love and support.” Among Kirsch’s other notable television appearances are “Friends” (1995), “JAG” (1996-2001) and “Invincible” (2008). In 2008, he founded the Stan Kirsch Studios, an acting school in Los Angeles, with his wife.
Roger Scruton (Feb. 27, 1944 – Jan. 12, 2020)
The conservative philosopher and writer died at the age of 75 after battling with cancer for six months. Scruton authored over 50 books on morals, politics, architecture and aesthetics, and was also a government adviser. His website released a statement which said he “died peacefully.” It also said, “His family are hugely proud of him and of all his achievements.”
Qaboos bin Said Al Said (Nov. 18, 1940 – Jan. 10, 2020 )
The Sultan of Oman, who was Arab world’s longest-serving monarch, died at the age of 79. Th Oman News Agency said, “With great sorrow and deep sadness… the royal court mourns His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said, who passed away on Friday.” The cause of death is unknown but it is reported that he was undergoing medical treatment in Belgium for cancer. He was known for holding quiet talks between global foes and is credited for transforming Oman from an isolated nation to a developed one.
Edd Byrnes (July 30, 1933 – Jan. 8, 2020)
Byrnes, best known for his role as Vince Fontaine in “Grease” (1978), died at his home in Santa Monica, California, U.S. He was 87. His son Logan Byrnes confirmed the news on Twitter and wrote: “It is with profound sadness and grief that I share with you the passing of my father Edd Byrnes. He was an amazing man and one of my best friends.” Some of Byrnes’ other notable works include “Johnny Trouble” (1957), “Darby’s Rangers” (1958) and “77 Sunset Strip” (1958-63).
Neil Peart (Sept. 12, 1952 – Jan. 7, 2020)
The 67-years-old Rush drummer and lyricist died in Santa Monica, California, U.S. The news of his death was shared on Rush’s Twitter page by his band mates. The post read, “It is with broken hearts and the deepest sadness that we must share the terrible news that on Tuesday our friend, soul brother and band mate of over 45 years, Neil, has lost his incredibly brave three and a half year battle with brain cancer (Glioblastoma).”
Silvio Horta (Aug. 14, 1974 – Jan. 7, 2020)
The “Ugly Betty” (2006-10) creator and executive producer died in a motel room, in Miami, Florida, U.S., aged 45. The news of his death was confirmed by a representative. He got his big break in Hollywood in 1998, when he wrote the screenplay for the Jared Leto starrer “Urban Legend.”
Elizabeth Wurtzel (July 31, 1967 – Jan. 7, 2020)
The author of the 1994 memoir “Prozac Nation,” that highlighted her struggles with addiction and depression, died of cancer at the age of 52. The news was confirmed by her husband, Jim Freed. Her memoir was made into a movie with the same name in 2001 featuring Christina Ricci. Wurtzal also wrote about her being diagnosed with cancer and having a double mastectomy for a newspaper piece in 2015.
Harry Hains (Dec. 4, 1992 – Jan. 6, 2020)
The actor-model, who starred in “American Horror Story: Hotel” (2015-16) and “The OA” (2016), died at the age of 27, his mother, actress Jane Balder confirmed on Instagram. “He was 27 and had the world at his feet. But sadly he struggled with mental illness and addiction. A brilliant spark shone bright too short a time .. I will miss you Harry every day of my life,” Balder wrote. Hains also performed music under the name ANTIBOY.