Kirk Douglas, one of the last remaining actors from the Golden Age of Hollywood, passed away on Wednesday at the age of 103. His son, fellow actor Michael Douglas, posted a statement to his Instagram that read:
“It is with tremendous sadness that my brothers and I announce that Kirk Douglas left us today at the age of 103. 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.”
Douglas continued, explaining that while his father may have been larger than life to so many people, he was first and foremost a family man.
“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. “
Kirk’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. 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.”
Born Issur Danielovitch Demsky, Kirk Douglas was the son of Russian Jewish immigrants and went on to star in 75 movies, including Spartacus and A Thousand Leagues Under The Sea, and was nominated for three Oscars in the 1950s for Champion, The Bad and the Beautiful, and Lust for Life.
He was also a man of principle, insisting that Dalton Trumbo write and get credit for Spartacus despite being put on The Hollywood blacklist for refusing to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee. Douglas told People about that time in Hollywood history:
“It was such a terrible, shameful time. Dalton was in prison because he refused to answer questions, so I decided, the hell with it! I’m going to put his name on it. I think that’s the thing I’m most proud of because it broke the blacklist.”
Douglas was married to Diana Dill in 1943 and had two sons, Michael and Joel Douglas. The couple later divorced in 1951, and he married Anne Buydens in 1954. They also had two sons, Peter Douglas and Eric Douglas, who passed away in 2004. Kirk and Anne were married until his death, celebrating their 65th wedding anniversary last year.
While Michael would go on to be a celebrated actor in his own right, Kirk was against it as a career path at the start. He told The Guardian in 2017:
“I am so proud of Michael because he never followed my advice. I wanted him to be a doctor or lawyer, and the first time I saw him in a play I told him he was terrible. But then I saw him a second time and I said: ‘You were wonderful!’ And I think he is very good in everything he’s done.”