Kirk Douglas, one of the great Hollywood leading men whose off-screen life was nearly as colorful as his on-screen exploits in movies like “Spartacus” and “Champion,” has d*ed, according to his son, actor Michael Douglas. He was 103.”It is with tremendous sadn*ss 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 said that his father’s life “was well lived, and he leaves a legacy in film that will endure forgenerations to come, and a history as a renowned philanthropist who worked to aid the public and bring peace to the planet.” He added: “Let me end with the words I told him on his last birthday and which will always remain true. Dad- I love you so much and I am so proud to be your son.
” A legend’s beginning- Douglas was far more than just a leading man, although he was certainly that. The actor was a larger-than-life character, a titan of the entertainment industry, and someone — by virtue of his longevity — one of the last surviving links to a particular era of Hollywood’s past.
Rarely was he an unvarnished hero. Douglas’ protagon*sts were full of shades of gray. Douglas’ tough-guy persona often overshadowed a shrewd business ac*men and thoughtful intellect. In the interview with the late critic Roger Ebert, he att*ckd film critic Pauline Kael for her misconceptions. “Don’t crucify me because of what your idea of a movie star is,” he said, referring to Kael. “I didn’t start out to be a movie star. I started out to be an actor. … You lose track of the human being behind the image of the movie star.” Born to Russian immigrant parents, the self-made star established himself as an actor following World War II, capitalizing on his looks and athleticism.
In that regard, he had a good deal in common with another titan of those years, Burt Lancaster, with whom Douglas co-starred in seven movies, including “Gunfight at O.K. Corral” and the political thriller “Seven Days in May.”
After a handful of nondescript films, “Champion” — which cast him as a ruthless boxer, who stepped on those around on him on the way up — made him a star and earned him an Oscar nomination. Douglas exhibited a range that went beyond what was available to stars during an earlier str*tch of the studio system. And like Lancaster, he seized control of his career in the mid-1950s by forming his own production company, using that leverage not only to find interesting parts for himself but to champion prestige material, as well as talent like director Stanley Kubrick, with who he collaborated on two memorable films, “Paths of Glory” and “Spartacus.”
The actor earning Oscar nominations for playing Vincent Van Gogh in “Lust for Life,” “Champion” and “Bad and the Beautiful,” but never won. He did receive a lifetime achievement award in 1996, and crooned a memorable duet with Lancaster at the 1958 Academy Awards, insisting how happy they were not to be among the nominees.
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