The actor was known for his roles in "Spartacus" and "Champion"
The centenarian Hollywood icon Kirk Douglas has died at 103, on February 5, 2019. The actor died on Wednesday at his home in Beverly Hills, California, according to New York Times. The news broke when his son, Michael Douglas, sent a statement via a post on Instagram and Facebook.
The statement said: "It is with tremendous sadness that my brothers and I announce that Kirk Douglas left us today." Part of his statement also said, "To the world, he was a legend, an actor from the golden age of movies... but to me and my brothers Joel and Peter he was simply Dad."
Douglas rose to fame with his very first movie, the 1949 boxing story Champion which earned him first Oscar nomination. Douglas's commanding presence was seen in other films like Lust for Life, Spartacus, and Paths of Glory. He is known for playing tough-guy roles, the sort of characters he once described as "sons of b**ches", according to BBC. His rugged good looks, muscular intensity, and an instantly recognizable face with the jutting jaw, the dimpled chin, and the piercing gaze have made thousands swoon over him.
Kirk Douglas was born Issur Danielovich Demsky to poor Jewish immigrants in the city of Amsterdam, New York state in 1916. Since he was one of seven children, he sold snacks to local mill workers to earn enough money to buy food. According to his autobiography, he has done over 40 jobs.
In school, he would take part in plays which made him realize that theater was his calling. He was a wrestling champion in St. Lawrence College, and wrestled professionally to pay his way through. He then won a scholarship to the Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York and moved there. He paid for drama school with odd jobs including ushering, working as a car park attendant, a gardener, janitor, and bellhop.
He started using the name Kirk Douglas while acting during the college break. He also used this name for his first Broadway appearance in a small part in a musical in 1941. According to CNN, two years later, he married Diana Dill, a classmate from drama school. The couple had two children, Michael and Joel, before divorcing in 1951.
It was after he had served in the Navy in WWII, that he came across a chance to go Hollywood. His old colleague Lauren Bacall recommended him to Hollywood producer Hal Wallis which led to his debut with Champion. And the rest is history. As he grew older, he just continued doing more, becoming a director, producer, and philanthropist. He penned and released an autobiography, The Ragman's Son in 1988. It was tell-all, and brought to light Douglas' various affairs with well-known actresses and settling some old scores.
But perhaps, what the world will also remember is his eternal love for his wife of 65 years, Anne Buydens. He married Buydens in 1954, which resulted in a more than six-decade-long marriage. Douglas had a lot of romantic dalliances on the side but Buydens chose to stick by him. On his part, he never hid it from her.
Anne Buydens recalled her husband saying, "‘I promise, Anne, 'as long as we both shall live, I will keep you safe'. It’s been sixty-two years as I write this, and Kirk has always kept his word." In his autobiography, Douglas wrote, "A newly engaged friend asked, 'Kirk, why did your marriage last so long?' 'That's easy,' I replied. 'I just told my wife, if you ever leave me, I'm going with you!'" Rarely do we see such love and commitment in this day age. The will to stick through, come what may.
In his statement, his son, Michael Douglas 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." There was just so much that the centenarian lived through, loved, and did in his lifetime. He lived a full life, indeed.
RIP Kirk Douglas. You will be missed.