Kirk Douglas dead at age 103; legendary actor was father of Michael Douglas

February 5, 2020

by John Larson

Kirk Douglas, the legendary actor who was best known for the movies he made in the 1950s and 1960s, died on February 5, 2020. He was 103.

His eldest son, Oscar-winning actor/producer Michael Douglas, issued this statement 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.”

Although Kirk Douglas appeared in more than 80 movies and was nominated three times for an Academy Award—for 1949’s “Champion,” 1953’s “The Bad and the Beautiful” and 1956’s “Lust for Life”—he never won an Oscar. However, he did received an honorary Academy Award in 1996. Other prestigious honors he received in his lifetime included a Presidential Medal of Freedom and a lifetime achievement award from the American Film Institute.

His other best-known movies included 1960’s “Spartacus,” 1954’s “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” and 1964’s “Seven Days in May.” It was for the movie “Spartacus” that he defied Hollywood’s blacklist of filmmakers who were suspected of being pro-Community, because Douglas openly credited then-blacklisted writer Dalton Trumbo for writing the screenplay.

Kirk Douglas’ last movie was the 2003 dramedy “It Runs in the Family,” which co-starred ex-wife Diana Douglas (Michael’s mother); son Michael; and Michael’s son Cameron.

In March 2009, Kirk Douglas appeared in a one-man autobiographical show, “Before I Forget,” which played for four sold-out nights at the Kirk Douglas Theater in Culver City, California. He also authored several books, including memoirs.

He also had two major brushes with death in the 1990s: In 1991, he survived a helicopter crash. And in 1996, he had a stroke.

Kirk Douglas was born into a Russian Jewish family in Amsterdam, New York,  on December 9, 1916. Before changing his name to Kirk Douglas when he became an actor, he went by the names Issur Danielovitch (his birth name) and Isidore Demsky.

Kirk Douglas is survived by second wife, Anne, whom he married in 1954;  his sons Michael, Joel and Peter; and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Kirk’s youngest son, Eric, died in 2004, at the age of 46, from an overdose of alcohol, tranquilizers and painkillers.

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