Kirk Douglas, the legendary performer of Spartacus and one of the last survivors of the golden age of Hollywood, died Wednesday at the age of 103.
Kirk Douglas is the father of actor Michael Douglas and has left a career of more than six decades.
His health was becoming more and shakier lately. In 1996, he had a stroke, but he had recovered quite well. He was a survivor. He was at sea in the years of World War II, and in 1991 he escaped from a helicopter accident in which two people died. Kirk was then chosen with serious trauma to the spine.
“With great sadness, my brothers and I announce that Kirk Douglas has left us today, at the age of 103. For the world, he was a legend, an actor from the golden age of films, a humanist who was dedicated to justice, and the causes he believed were a standard to which we all aspired; but for me and my brothers Joel and Peter he was simple – dad, Catherine – a wonderful father-in-law, his grandchildren and great-grandchildren – a loving grandfather, and for his wife, Anne, a wonderful husband, “said Michael Douglas.
Kirk first appeared in minor roles in Broadway productions, and in the 1940s enlisted in the US military, where he served for a few years, then returned to the theater. His great roles, however, made them on the big screens, where he was noted for his appearance, but especially for his athletic stature.
He received unanimous recognition of the extent of his talent with the role of Spartacus, from the movie of the same name in 1960, but already in 1959, he had been nominated for an Oscar for best actor in the lead role, thanks to the role of Midge Kelly, the boxer in “Champion”. But he never won an Oscar as an actor. He won two statuettes as a producer, for “The Bad and the Beautiful” in 1953 and “Lust for Life” in 1957, where he embodied the painter Vincent Van Gogh. In 1995, the American Film Academy awarded him an honorary Oscar for his entire career. He was undoubtedly a titan in the film industry and founded his own production company.
He has starred alongside other Hollywood legends such as Burt Lancaster in seven films, or John Wayne in three films. And with Arnold Schwarzenegger he played in the 1979 film “The Villain” and with Farrah Fawcett, he teamed in the SF movie “Saturn 3”. He was good both in negative roles and as an exemplary hero.
Equally, Kirk’s merits are recognized on a humanitarian level. He was a goodwill ambassador from the US State Department. President Jimmy Carter awarded him the Freedom Medal, and France made him Knight of the Legion of Honor.
Kirk Douglas was born under the name of Issur Danielovitch, in Amsterdam (New York State), is the descendant of parents of Russian origin who had emigrated to the States in 1912. Kirk married Diana Dill in 1943 and had two children – Michael and Joel. After Diana’s divorce in 1951, he married, in 1954, Anne Buydens, with whom he had two more sons, Peter and Eric, the latter dead in 2004.