Thursday, February 6, 2020

D&M Tribute : Hollywood Legend Kirk Douglas Dies at 103

Kirk Douglas, one of the last Hollywood Legend, passed away at 103, his son Michael Dougles announced today.  He was famous for his magnificent roles in countless movie, and of course Spartacus, but Disney fans will remember him forever for his role as Ned Land in 20000 Leagues Under the Sea.

"It is with tremendous sadness that my brothers and I announce that Kirk Douglas left us today at the age of 103," he wrote on his verified 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. But to me and my brothers Joel and Peter he was simply Dad, to Catherine, a wonderful father-in-law, to his grandchildren and great grandchild their loving grandfather, and to his wife Anne, a wonderful husband."

Michael Douglas added that his father'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."

More about Kirk's life and career with excerpts from his Wikipedia page

Kirk Douglas- who was born Issur Danielovitch on December 9, 1916, was an actor, producer, director, philanthropist and author. After an impoverished childhood with immigrant parents and six sisters, he made his film debut in The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946) with Barbara Stanwyck. Douglas soon developed into a leading box-office star throughout the 1950s, known for serious dramas, including westerns and war films. During his career, he appeared in more than 90 films. Douglas was known for his explosive acting style, which he displayed as a criminal defense attorney in Town Without Pity (1961).

Below, Kirk Douglas stars as trapeze artist Pierre Narval in the MGM film 'The Story of Three Loves', 1953.

Douglas became an international star through positive reception for his leading role as an unscrupulous boxing hero in Champion (1949), which brought him his first nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actor. His other early films include Young Man with a Horn (1950), playing opposite Lauren Bacall and Doris Day, Ace in the Hole opposite Jan Sterling (1951), and Detective Story (1951), for which he received a Golden Globe nomination as Best Actor in a Drama. He received a second Oscar nomination for his dramatic role in The Bad and the Beautiful (1952), opposite Lana Turner, and his third nomination for portraying Vincent van Gogh in Lust for Life (1956), which landed him a second Golden Globe nomination.

In 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954), Douglas showed that in addition to serious, driven characters, he was adept at roles requiring a lighter, comic touch. In this adaptation of the Jules Verne novel, he played a happy-go-lucky sailor who was the opposite in every way to the brooding Captain Nemo (James Mason). The film was one of Walt Disney's most successful live-action movies and a major box-office hit.

Listen to Kirk Douglas singing "A Whale of a Tale" in the famous 20000 Leagues under the Sea sequence.

In 1955, he established Bryna Productions, which began producing films as varied as Paths of Glory (1957) and Spartacus (1960). In those two films he collaborated with the then-relatively-unknown director Stanley Kubrick, taking lead roles in both films. Douglas has been praised for helping to break the Hollywood blacklist by having Dalton Trumbo write Spartacus with an official on-screen credit.

He produced and starred in Lonely Are the Brave (1962), considered a classic, and Seven Days in May (1964), opposite Burt Lancaster, with whom he made seven films. In 1963, he starred in the Broadway play One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, a story that he purchased and later gave to his son Michael Douglas, who turned it into an Oscar-winning film.

As an actor and philanthropist, Douglas received three Academy Award nominations, an Oscar for Lifetime Achievement, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. As an author, he wrote ten novels and memoirs. He is No. 17 on the American Film Institute's list of the greatest male screen legends of classic Hollywood cinema, the highest-ranked living person on the list until his death. After barely surviving a helicopter crash in 1991 and then suffering a stroke in 1996, he focused on renewing his spiritual and religious life. He lived with his second wife (of 65 years), Anne Buydens, a producer, until his death today on February 5, 2020, at age 103. A centenarian, he was one of the last surviving stars of the film industry's Golden Age.

I have more pictures of Kirk Douglas with Walt for you, starting by the one below with Walt on studio lot, or with Walt holding the first Nautilus model done by Harper Goff who designed the submarine, and with Peter Lorre and Walt during the filming of 20000 Leagues under the Sea.

This next picture with Walt and Kirk was probably shot on location in the Bahamas.

Believe it or not, but Kirk Douglas children were probably the two first boys who ever ride in one of Disneyland's Autopia car as the picture was shot in 1954 - with Kirk wearing his famous t-shirt from his role as Ned Land in 20000 Leagues Under the Sea - a year before Disneyland open!

Kirk Douglas was immensely popular during his carreer, and although married with his wife Anne Buydens, Douglas was a seducer who had affairs with other women including several Hollywood starlets, though he never hid his infidelities from his wife who was accepting of them and explained, "as a European, I understood it was unrealistic to expect total fidelity in a marriage." On the picture below he sign an autograph on the belly of a fan at the beach and lift two other ones.

Last not least, don't miss this great 1971 interview of Kirk Douglas by Dick Cavett!

Pictures, copyright Disney

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