Kirk Douglas, Hollywood’s tough guy on screen and off, dead at 103

(Reuters) – Kirk Douglas, the cleft-chinned movie star who fought gladiators, cowboys and boxers on the display screen and the Hollywood establishment, died on Wednesday at the age of 103, his son Michael Douglas reported.

FILE Photo: Actor Kirk Douglas arrives to get an inaugural award for Excellence in film presented by the Santa Barbara International Movie Pageant at a black-tie gala fundraiser in his honor at the Bacara Vacation resort & Spa in Santa Barbara, California, July thirty, 2006. REUTERS/Phil Klein/File Photo

“It is with large unhappiness that my brothers and I announce that Kirk Douglas left us today at the age of 103,” Michael Douglas reported in a statement to People magazine and on his Fb web site.

“To the entire world, he was a legend, an actor from the golden age of movies who lived perfectly into his golden a long time, a humanitarian whose dedication to justice and the causes he believed in established a common for all of us to aspire to,” Douglas extra.

“Kirk’s daily life was perfectly lived, and he leaves a legacy in film that will endure for generations to occur, and a historical past as a renowned philanthropist who labored to aid the public and deliver peace to the earth,” Michael extra, saying he was “so proud” to be his father’s son.

Douglas made more than ninety movies in a occupation that stretched across 7 many years and films this kind of as “Spartacus” and “The Vikings” made him one particular of the greatest box-office environment stars of the nineteen fifties and ‘60s.

He also played a big purpose in breaking the Hollywood blacklist – actors, administrators and writers who had been shunned skillfully due to the fact of inbound links to the communist motion in the nineteen fifties. Douglas reported he was more very pleased of that than any film he made.

Tributes poured in from Hollywood. Actor and director Rob Reiner reported on Twitter that Douglas “will generally be an icon in the pantheon of Hollywood. He put himself on the line to split the blacklist.”

Mitzi Gaynor, who appeared with Douglas in the 1963 movie “For Appreciate or Funds,” reported the film would “always keep a unique put in my heart.”

“Thank you for so generously sharing your incredible expertise with all of us,” Gaynor tweeted.

Danny DeVito known as him an “inspirational Scallywag,” even though Ed Asner tweeted “I will generally be in your awe.”

A stroke in 1996 at age 80 left Douglas with slurred speech and broken facial nerves. But two weeks later he showed his spirit by attending the Academy Awards ceremony to get a Life span Accomplishment Award. He also continued to consider smaller acting roles by 2008 but reported the stroke left him suicidal.

“Humor saved me,” Douglas informed Parade magazine in 2014. “At initial, I considered my daily life was at an close. But when I put the gun in my mouth, it hit a tooth. Ow! And that struck me amusing. A toothache was stopping me from committing suicide?”

In one particular of his final public appearances, Douglas was frail and scarcely audible in a wheelchair as he served daughter-in-regulation Catherine Zeta-Jones existing the Oscar for most effective screenplay in January 2018. In November of that calendar year he joined his son Michael as the younger Douglas was honored with a star on the Hollywood Wander of Fame.

Douglas experienced a unique chin, razor-sharp cheekbones and a jutting jaw – appears to be that he handed along to Michael – and that made him a all-natural for actively playing all way of rugged characters.

He also experienced a demanding character that acquired him a name in his prime as the actor who directed administrators. Prolonged-time mate and someday co-star Burt Lancaster loved to introduce him by saying, “Kirk would be the initial to admit he is a challenging individual. (Pause) I would be the second.”

“I make my possess way,” Douglas when informed an interviewer. “Nobody’s my boss. Nobody’s ever been my boss … I have been a maverick.”

Douglas reported actively playing Vincent van Gogh in “Lust for Life” (1956) was his favorite purpose but “Spartacus” (1960) was his favorite film due to the fact, as producer, he took a huge move toward breaking the Hollywood blacklist.

The life span Oscar was Douglas’ only Academy Award even even though he was nominated for actively playing ruthless boxer Midge Kelly in “Champion” (1949), a movie govt in “The Bad and the Beautiful” (1952) and van Gogh in “Lust for Lifetime.”

Douglas’ initial movie was “The Peculiar Appreciate of Martha Ivers,” in 1946 just after staying advised for the aspect by acting faculty classmate Betty Joan Perske, who became famous just after switching her title to Lauren Bacall.

Douglas was regarded for powerful performances as characters who experienced to endure powerful on-display screen discomfort. He was stabbed in “Ace in the Hole,” crucified in “Spartacus,” missing an eye in “The Vikings,” an ear in “Lust for Lifetime,” and a finger in “The Large Sky.”

His other noteworthy movies had been “Lonely Are the Brave,” “The Devil’s Disciple,” “Victory at Entebbe” and “Tough Men,” which he made with Lancaster in 1986.

Douglas’ independent streak led him to established up Bryna Manufacturing Co, which he named just after his mom, in 1955, snubbing huge studio bosses and serving to split their monopoly on the field.

Born Issur Danielovich on Dec. 9, 1916, in Amsterdam, New York, Douglas was the only son of 7 young children born to illiterate Russian immigrants.

Following graduating from large faculty, he hitch-hiked to St. Lawrence College in Canton, New York, wherever he became a wrestling winner. He also staged and starred in theatrical productions and improved his title to Izzy Demsy.

Following St. Lawrence, he graduated from New York’s American Academy of Dramatic Arts in 1941 and improved his title to Kirk Douglas. He joined the Navy adhering to two smaller Broadway roles.

While in the Navy he married British actress Diana Dill and they experienced two sons, Michael and Joel, ahead of the relationship ended just after eight a long time.

Douglas experienced a name as a Hollywood ladies’ person. Amid the enthusiasts mentioned in the 1988 guide “The Ragman’s Son,” one particular of quite a few publications he wrote about his daily life, had been Joan Crawford, Marlene Dietrich, Rita Hayworth, Marilyn Maxwell, Patricia Neal and Gene Tierney.

While producing “Act of Appreciate,” Douglas fulfilled and Anne Buydens, the film’s publicist, and they married in 1954. Their relationship became one particular of Hollywood’s most enduring in spite of his affairs. They experienced two sons, Peter and Eric.

Douglas, who survived a 1991 helicopter crash that killed two people, tried to discourage his young children from adhering to him into acting. Still, Michael became a superstar and a productive producer, Joel and Peter also had been producers and Eric was an actor till his 2004 loss of life from a drug overdose.

“You see how they listened to me,” Douglas when reported.

Slideshow (11 Pictures)

Douglas, who grew a prolonged white ponytail in his later a long time, released quite a few publications, like a guide of poetry, prose and pictures in 2014 and “Kirk and Anne: Letters of Appreciate, Laughter and a Life span in Hollywood,” in 2017 with his spouse.

He founded the Douglas Foundation for producing charitable donations and in 2015 he and Anne declared ideas to give away his $80 million fortune to a assortment of causes. The beneficiaries provided a shelter for homeless women named just after Anne, the Los Angeles public faculty district, St. Lawrence College and hospitals.

To mark his 99th birthday in 2015 he donated $15 million to the Movement Photograph and Tv Fund to help establish a facility for enjoyment field figures with Alzheimer’s illness.

Reporting by Monthly bill Trott Extra reporting by Jill Serjeant and Steve Gorman in Los Angeles Enhancing by Diane Craft and Lisa Shumaker

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