Kirk Douglas, one of the icons of Hollywood’s Golden age whose life behind the lens was as vibrant as his on-screen roles in movies like “Spartacus” and “Champion,” has died at the age of 103, according to his son, actor Michael Douglas.
To the people in the Hollywood industry, Douglas was far more than just a leading man. The actor was a phenomenal character, a titan of the entertainment industry, and someone considered as the last surviving links to a particular era of Hollywood’s past.
Douglas worked on a range beyond what was available to actors during an earlier stretch of the studio system. And like Lancaster, he took control of his career in the by creating his own production company and used it not only to discover amazing parts for himself but to honor prominent materials, and talents like director Stanley Kubrick, whom he worked with to produce the two memorable films, “Paths of Glory” and “Spartacus.”
Like what others may notice, Douglas was as comfortable and is better at playing a bad guy, as he was a traditional hero.
His edgy vibe was noticed starting with the film noir classic “Out of the Past” in 1947, followed by “Champion,” “The Bad and the Beautiful” and “The Vikings.”
He was also equally good at playing action and serious drama, mixing his nasty streak with a wry sense of humor. He excelled at playing terrible characters who always left the audience feeling a pinch of sadness when they met an untimely end.
He also dedicated time to charitable works, forming the Douglas Foundation together with his wife, Anne Buydens. The charity gave help and assistance on such causes as elder abuse and homelessness. Douglas remained a vibrant and outspoken figure even after a stroke in 1996 affected his speech.
Douglas told People magazine in 1997:
“I must admit I’m not as brave as I am in the movies. I’m human, and like many people after a stroke, I faced severe depression.”
Despite his unfortunate experiences, Kirk Douglas always chose to look ahead and move forward. Among his many awards, which included an honorary Oscar, a Golden Globe, a Kennedy Center Honors award and a prize named for him at the Santa Barbara Film Festival, was making it on the list of the greatest film legends in the American Film Institute.
It is true that many actors have played roles at which Douglas excelled. But when it comes to breadth, volume, and variety, there was only one Kirk Douglas.
To honor his father, actor Michael Douglas wrote this message on his verified Instagram account:
“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 setting 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.”
“His 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.”