“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,” Michael Douglas said in a statement announcing his father’s death. “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 Douglas has died at the ripe old age of 103 years old, and many have viewed his death as the end of the era of Hollywood’s Golden Age.
Born Issur Danielovitch Demsky to struggling Russian-Jewish immigrants, Douglas once said he had worked as many as 40 jobs before finding fame as an actor.
“Kirk retained his movie star charisma right to the end of his wonderful life and I’m honoured to have been a small part of his last 45 years. I will miss his handwritten notes, letters and fatherly advice, and his wisdom and courage – even beyond such a breathtaking body of work – are enough to inspire me for the rest of mine,” director Steven Spielberg said in a statement after finding out about the legendary actor’s death.
Douglas made his screen debut in the 1946 film The Strange Love of Martha Ivers, before his breakout performance in the classic film-noir Out of the Past. He went on to hone a ruthless, alpha-male image on such films as Champion, Ace in the Hole, I Walk Alone and The Bad and the Beautiful. He received rave reviews for his impersonation of anguished Vincent Van Gogh in Vicente Minnelli’s Lust For Life.
He also started a production company called Bryna Productions, which developed his two most lauded films – Paths of Glory and Spartacus, both directed by Stanley Kubrick.
Douglas was Oscar-nominated three times; for Champion, The Bad and the Beautiful and Lust For Life – but had to be content with the honorary award he was eventually given in 1995. In 1981 he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by his friend Jimmy Carter.
No cause of death has yet been provided.