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Actor-producer-author Kirk Douglas (1916-2020)


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Kirk Douglas, the film great, producer and best-selling author who was one of the last links to Hollywood's Golden Age, died Wednesday in Beverly Hills, California. He was 103.
 
"It is with tremendous sadness that my brothers and I announce that Kirk Douglas left us today at the age of 103," his son Michael Douglas told People magazine. "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 of us all to aspire to.
 
"But to me and my brothers Joel and Peter he was simply Dad, to [Michael's actress-wife] Catherine [Zeta-Jones], a wonderful father-in-law, to his grandchildren and great-grandchildren their loving grandfather, and to his wife Anne, a wonderful husband."
 
The elder Douglas, born Issur Danielovitch in Amsterdam, New York on December 9, 1916, and Sidney Poitier were the only living actors on the American Film Institute's 1999 list of the top 50 greatest screen legends of all time. Douglas was No. 17. Poitier, who turns 93 later this month, ranked No. 22. Sophia Loren, who is 85, is the only living actress on the list (she was No. 21 in the category of Top 25 Female Legends).
 
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He was nominated for Academy Awards three times. His recognized roles and movies were as follows: 
  • Midge Kelly in "Champion" (1949). Best Actor.
  • Jonathan Shields in "The Bad and the Beautiful" (1952). Best Actor.
  • Vincent Van Gogh in "Lust for Life" (1957). Best Actor.
 
He received an honorary Oscar in 1996 for career excellence.
 
Douglas always gave credit to Lauren Bacall for the start of his screen career. They met as students at the Academy of Dramatic Arts when he was 24 and she was 17, and became friends. After Bacall had become a Hollywood star, she recommended Douglas to the film producer Hal Wallis. The result: Douglas made his screen debut in "The Strange Love of Martha Ivers" (1946). He was forever grateful and considered Bacall his "lucky charm."
 
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Douglas appeared in "The Strange Love of Martha Ivers" as a Pennsylvania district attorney married to the title character (played by Barbara Stanwyck), who inherited an industrial empire. For years, they kept an important secret that might be exposed by the return of Sam Masterson (Van Heflin), an old flame of Martha's.
 
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The 1947 film noir "Out of the Past", based on the 1946 novel "Build My Gallows High by Daniel Mainwaring, was headlined by Douglas, Robert Mitchum and Jane Greer. Directed by Jacques Tourneur ("Cat People"), the drama starred Mitchum as Jeff Markham, a onetime private detective living under an assumed name in a small California town. He soon found himself being dragged back into a romantic triangle that also involved the totally untrustworthy Kathie Moffat (Greer) and her equally duplicitous gambler boyfriend Whit Sterling (Douglas).  

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Another 1947 film noir -- "I Walk Alone" -- was the first of several screen collaborations between Douglas and actor Burt Lancaster (pictured below with actress Lizabeth Scott). The two actors also appeared in a made-for-television production. 
 
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Known for his athleticism, Douglas starred as a determined but deceitful boxer in the 1949 drama "Champion," which earned him his first Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. Directed by Mark Robson, the film won  the Oscar for Best Film Editing (Harry W. Gerstad).
 
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Based loosely on the meteoric career of the great jazz cornet player Bix Beiderbecke (1903-1931), the 1950 drama "Young Man with a Horn" was the first of two screen collaborations between Douglas and Bacall. The other was the 1999 comedy "Diamonds." Directed by Michael Curtiz ("Casablanca"), the picture focused on a talented young trumpet player (Douglas) and his relationships with a singer (Doris Day) and a budding psychiatrist (Bacall). 
 
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Billy Wilder's hard-hitting 1951 drama "Ace in the Hole" (also released as "The Big Carnival") starred Douglas as an unscrupulous newspaper reporter in New Mexico who manipulated a breaking story to his advantage.The film earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Writing, Story and Screenplay (Wilder, Lesser Samuels and Walter Newman).
 
 
Douglas received his second Academy Award nomination for his performance as a ruthless movie studio head in "The Bad and the Beautiful" (1952), Vincente Minnelli's Hollywood film about Hollywood. The drama received five other Academy Award nominations and won them all: Best Adapted Screenplay (Charles Schnee), Best Black-and-White Cinematography (Robert Surtees), Best Black-and-White Art Direction-Set Decoration (Cedric Gibbons, Edward C. Carfagno, Edwin B. Willis and F. Keogh Gleason) and Best Black-and-White Costume Design (Helen Rose). Using flashbacks, the drama followed the rise and decline of hotshot movie producer Jonathan Shields (Douglas) who let success go to his head. Along the way, he alienated many of the people important to him, including a rising actress (Lana Turner, pictured below with Douglas), a longtime director friend (Barry Sullivan) and a best-selling author turned screenwriter (Dick Powell).
 
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Directed by Minnelli, the 1956 film "Lust for Life" was a biography of the tortured but talented Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890).  Douglas, who actually looked like Van Gogh in the movie, was nominated for Best Actor -- but lost to Yul Brynner of "The King and I." Anthony Quinn (pictured below with Douglas) won the second of his two Best Supporting Actor Oscars for his portrayal of the French artist Paul Gauguin (1848-1903). The movie's adapted screenplay earned an Oscar nomination for Norman Corwin, who based it on Irving Stone's 1934 novel. The film also received a nomination for Best Color Art Direction-Set Decoration (Cedric Gibbons, Hans Peters, E. Preston Ames, Edwin B. Willis and F. Keogh Gleason). The drama was produced by John Houseman, who won a Best Supporting Actor award 17 years later for "The Paper Chase." 
 
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The World War I drama "Paths of Glory" (1957) was the first of Douglas' two collaborations with director Stanley Kubrick. The actor's production company came up with the  blistering anti-war film, which was based on a true story that inspired the 1935 novel by Humphrey Cobb. The title was derived from a line in "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard" by the 18th-century British poet Thomas Gray: "The paths of glory lead but to the grave." Douglas starred as Colonel Dax, a French officer who tried to cope with an insensitive and duplicitous military hierarchy in 1916. When a futile assault on a German position known as the Ant Hill failed, French military officials refused to admit their blunder. They decided instead to court-martial three soldiers selected at random. The scapegoats -- Corporal Paris (Ralph Meeker), Private Ferol (Timothy Carey) and Private Arnaud (Joseph Turkel) -- were found guilty of cowardice by a military tribune and sentenced to be executed by a firing squad. The entire episode enraged Dax, who had a climactic showdown with a member of the top brass (played by Adolphe Menjou).
 
 
The second collaboration between Douglas and Kubrick was the 1960 historical drama "Spartacus," based on the true story of the Thracian gladiator who led a slave rebellion that struck terror throughout the Roman Republic from 73 to 71 Rome. The movie's screenplay was adapted from Howard Fast's 1951 novel by the blacklisted writer Dalton Trumbo, who had continued to write using pseudonyms. Douglas, who produced the film, insisted that Trumbo receive his first onscreen credit in years. Two months after the film's release, Trumbo also was credited as the screenwriter of Otto Preminger's film "Exodus."
 
 
Douglas co-starred with Gena Rowlands in "Lonely Are the Brave" (1962), which the veteran actor called his favorite film. The movie's screenplay was written by Trumbo from the 1956 novel by Edward Abbey. "I love the theme that if you try to be an individual, society will crush you," Douglas told The Huffington Post in 2014. "I play a modern-day cowboy still living by the code of the Old West. Dalton wrote a perfect screenplay -- one draft, no revisions."  
  
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One of the best Douglas and Lancaster films was the 1964 political thriller "Seven Days in May," based on the 1962 novel by Fletcher Knebel and Charles W. Bailey II. The film version, directed by John Frankenheimer and adapted by Rod Serling, starred Douglas as a Marine colonel who discovered a conspiracy by the Joint Chiefs of Staff to overthrow the U.S. government. Lancaster played  the Joint Chiefs chairman, an Air Force general and key conspirator behind the planned coup.
 
 
Douglas bought the rights to Ken Kesey's novel "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" and starred as Randle P. McMurphy in a Broadway version of the tale in 1963 and 1964. Although he had hoped to turn the story into a movie project, nothing ever developed. "I loved the book: it was a brilliantly conceived story of one man against the system," his son Michael later told The Guardian newspaper. "I had never thought about producing, but told my dad: 'Let me run with this'." The result: The 1975 film version received nine Academy Award nominations and won the Big Five: Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director (Miloš Forman), Best Actor (Jack Nicholson as McMurphy), Best Actress (Louise Fletcher) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Lawrence Hauben and Bo Goldman). 
 
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In 1980, Douglas was presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom -- one of the nation's highest civilian honors -- by President Jimmy Carter.  
 
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In 1988, Douglas' candid autobiography "The Ragman's Son" became a critical and commercial success. During the next three decades, he wrote nine other book. Some were novels; others were memoirs.
 
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In 1991, Douglas was celebrated as the 19th recipient of the American Film Institute's Life Achievement Award.  Eighteen years later, his son Michael -- who has won Academy Awards as a producer and as an actor -- was honored as the AFI award's 37th recipient. 
 
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The December 1994 edition of the annual Kennedy Center Honors celebrated the careers of (from right to left) Douglas, soul singer Aretha Franklin, composer Morton Gould, theatrical producer and director Harold Prince and folk singer Pete Seeger.
 
 
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Douglas never won a competitive Oscar, but on March 25, 1996, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences presented him with a special statuette for "50 years as a creative and moral force in the motion picture community." His appearance occurred two months after he suffered a stroke.
 
 
Douglas co-starred with his eldest son in the 2003 comedy/drama "It Runs in the Family," which also featured Michael's son Cameron. The project, directed by the Australian filmmaker Fred Schepisi ("A Cry in the Dark"), was about  a family coming together during a crisis.
 
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The veteran actor was married twice. From 1943 to 1951, he was wed to the actress Diana Love Dill (1923-2015). She was the mother of his sons Michael and Joel. In 1954, Douglas married the German-born Anne Buydens, who became the mother of their sons Eric and Peter.  Eric died of an accidental drug overdose in 2004 at the age of 46. The second Mrs. Douglas celebrated her 100th birthday on April 23, 2019. The Douglases were married for 65 years.
 
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Kirk Douglas stood up for decency, justice, and the best of America when he put himself on the line to end the blacklist. He’s a reminder that when people with power stand up to tyranny, they can effect change.
 
12:53 AM · Feb 6, 2020·Twitter for iPhone

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Bravo Kirk Douglas on an incredible life. Thank you for so generously sharing your amazing talent with all of us. The film we made together will always hold a special place in my heart. My love to Anne & your beautiful family.
 
 
6:36 PM · Feb 5, 2020·Twitter for iPhone

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Kirk Douglas was one of the biggest stars of all time & a brilliant actor with an unforgettable, blazing charisma. He will also be remembered for putting his career on the line by defying the Hollywood Blacklist, hiring writer Dalton Trumbo for the classic Spartacus. #RIP
 
💔
 
8:09 PM · Feb 5, 2020·Twitter Web App

 

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Kirk Douglas. The inspirational Scalawag. 103 years on this earth. That’s got a nice ring to it! Great hanging with you man.
 
7:06 PM · Feb 5, 2020·Twitter for iPhone
 

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Kirk Douglas will always be an icon in the pantheon of Hollywood. He put himself on the line to break the blacklist. My love goes out to my friend Michael and the whole family.
 
6:44 PM · Feb 5, 2020·Twitter for iPhone
 
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Kirk Douglas Dead: Iconic Actor Was 103. Kirk! A pillar of Hollywood has fallen. Nobody danced on Viking oars like you! Safe travels, stud!
 
7:13 PM · Feb 5, 2020·Twitter for iPhone
 

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Heartbroken. Kirk Douglas was a friend and an absolute legend of a star and human. He got better with every passing day. So honored to have known him. My love to his family. We could use a true Spartacus. #ripkirkdouglas
 
7:09 PM · Feb 5, 2020·Twitter for iPhone
 

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Condolences to the family of Kirk Douglas. What an incredible icon he was in this industry!
 
😞
6:24 PM · Feb 5, 2020·Twitter for iPhone
 

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Hollywood doesn't make legends like Kirk Douglas anymore. Born into a Jewish immigrant family, his star rose In the golden age of film, when marquee lights were bright and movie houses palaces. My thoughts are with his family. May his memory be a blessing to them, and all of us.
 
7:30 PM · Feb 5, 2020·Twitter Web App

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Must-see Kirk Douglas films that stand the test of time: The Bad and the Beautiful, Spartacus, Lonely Are the Brave, Ace in the Hole, The List of Adrian Messenger, Paths of Glory, and Gunfight at the OK Corral.
 
7:07 PM · Feb 5, 2020·Twitter for iPhone

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RIP #kirkdouglas I remember him walking into a lift in NYC, I was 21. After a few moments he looked up at me and said “how’s school son?” I said “good sir”. (I couldn’t tell him I never finished school.) What a moment, what a total legend he was.
 
8:15 PM · Feb 5, 2020·Twitter for iPhone
“I wanted to be an actor ever since I was a kid in the second grade. I did a play, and my mother made a black apron, and I played a shoemaker. After the performance, [my father] gave me my first Oscar: an ice cream cone.” -Kirk Douglas
 
Goodbye to a Hollywood legend.
 
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6:53 PM · Feb 5, 2020·Twitter Web App
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It's hardly surprising considering his age, but it is sad nonetheless, because he's one of the last pieces of Classic Hollywood.

RIP Kirk.

I'll watch one of his movies tonight in his honor.

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Kirk will no doubt get a TCM tribute, but unfortunately, we'll have to wait until at least March.  I doubt they'd preempt 31 Days of Oscar.  I will also guess that Kirk will get a 24 hour tribute.

He's no doubt got a large enough filmography.  I'd like to see some of his noir like I Walk Alone and Ace in a Hole.  I'd also like to see his boxing movie, Champion. It would be nice too if maybe Michael Douglas could host an evening of his dad's films.

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TCM
 
·
19m
 
Our thoughts are with the friends and family of screen legend Kirk Douglas.

remembers him here:

Kirk Douglas, Indomitable Icon of Hollywood's Golden Age, Dies at 103

The actor starred in such films as 'Champion,' 'The Bad and the Beautiful,' 'Lust for Life,' 'Gunfight at the O.K. Corral' and 'Spartacus,' to name just a few.

Kirk Douglas, the son of a ragman who channeled a deep, personal anger through a chiseled jaw and steely blue eyes to forge one of the most indelible and indefatigable careers in Hollywood history, died Wednesday. He was 103.

“It is with tremendous sadness that my brothers and I announce that Kirk Douglas left us today at the age of 103,” son Michael Douglas wrote on his Instagram account. “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.”...............

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/kirk-douglas-dies-spartacus-670526?utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter

:( 

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1 minute ago, CinemaInternational said:

I am a bit ashamed that the title of the last film I saw of his before his passing was A Lovely Way to Die. RIP. He was a great actor and one of the last links to the Golden Age.

That's awkward. Lol.

Maybe you can "right" things by watching him in Lust for Life

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He was, after all, 103 and we all knew it but a matter of time. Still, I can't help but feel a pang of grief at news of the death of Kirk Douglas, one of the last iconic stars associated with Golden Age Hollywood.

Kirk was known for his trademark intensity as an actor and often played unscrupulous characters, such as the boxer in Champion (the film that made him a star) and Ace in the Hole as a reporter who delays operations on a man trapped in a mine to help boost sales of his newspaper copy. But he could also play men of decency and integrity, such as the military officer defending three men accused of treason in Paths of Glory or the cowboy living out of his time in Lonely Are The Brave. As well as these characters Douglas had the physique and temperament to also play larger than life heroes, such as when he had the title role in Spartacus. And can anyone who saw his tortured portrait of Vincent Van Gogh in Lust for Life ever forget his anguished portrayal?

There are so many indelible images that Douglas left us on the screen, but he was also a celebrated author and film producer. One of the accomplishments for which he was most proud was when he helped to break the Hollywood blacklist by giving screenwriter Dalton Trumbo screen credit for Spartacus. Rather appropriately, the last film in which I saw Kirk just a couple of months ago was Lonely Are The Brave, the actor's favourite of his career.

Kirk Douglas is a star who won't be forgotten.

RIP Kirk Douglas.

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For some reason I was surprised. It almost seemed like Kirk would never die; of course we knew it had to happen sometime, and he was 103.  One of the few remaining living legends of the golden Hollywood era is now gone.

I can't think of a movie I've seen him in that he didn't make better,  just by his presence. Now I want to watch the Kirk Douglas films that I still haven't yet seen. Oddly enough, one of his most  famous, Lust for Life, is one. I hope I'll have the chance to see that and some of his other great movies in March.

Some of his most memorable works, just off the top of my head: The Strange Love of Martha Ivers,  Detective Story, Out of the Past, Ace in the Hole,  Lonely are the Brave, Paths of Glory...so many others.

Rest in Peace, Mr. Douglas.

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Kirk Douglas has entertained my family and I on-screen for many, many years, and I wanted to say thanks for the memories. Out of the Past and 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea were my favorite movies of his. I will always remember Kirk.

Rest in Peace.

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Rest in Peace Kirk Douglas. You were certainly one of the "greats" of Hollywood. I have tried and tried to get a message to him via twitter --to anyone who may have access to him as he was the last surviving actor from the movie "In Harm's Way;" in which I deduced there's a or a few missing scenes. Even the transcripts available have that portion blacked out. I figured he could say whether or not this part of the story line hit the editors floor. At about 20 minutes in, the ship he & John Wayne are officers, it's awkward in that there's no reason given for a guard posted at or near Douglas' room and it seems like he & perhaps another sailor/officer had an argument/fight over his wife, a known flirt or worse. Later in the movie, after Pearl Harbor was attacked, the film returns to the ship's War (Ward?) Room Douglas enters with a slicker on and Wayne asks him if he's taken care of his problem(s)? Douglas replies "I cut them down a size." This makes no sense given the parts of the movie we did get. Anyway, I was a big big fan of Douglas. We do still have Olivia deHavilland and Marsha Hunt  Olivia will be 104 July 1st and Hunt, 103 this year. 

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Kirk Douglas wrote a collection of poems called Life Could Be Verse. When his son Michael talked about it on The Late Show with David Letterman, it got an admiring chuckle from the talk show host. And from me! Multitalented guy, that's for sure.

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There’s been a lot to see in a 103…years of living, although I dread to think how humiliating the last decade may have been – passing likely a blessing.

Enjoyed the “The Juggler” 1953 (6.6) as well as “Paths of Glory” 1957 (8.4)

 

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In the meantime, TCM will be airing in a few short days…

The Strange Love of Martha Ivers 1946 (7.4) on 2/11 and Lust for Life 1956 (7.4) on 2/12

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So long Champ or would that be Spartacus?

Image result for kirk douglas paths of glory

 

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I honestly thought this guy was going to live forever but we are human beings that ultimately pass away someday. I'm happy to say I appreciated his contribution to classic Hollywood but I also didn't like him as a person at the same time. I don't know if everyone knows this story but supposedly he raped Natalie Wood and ended up getting away with it, without consequence. 

I say, respect the talent and say that the movies were great, but the man himself needed to go on record and apologize for everything he did, and I don't believe he ever did that. 

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