The film world is mourning after the news broke that Academy Award nominee and recipient of the Honorary Award Kirk Douglas, has died at 103.
His son, two-time Academy Award winner Michael Douglas, posted a heartfelt statement on his Instagram account announcing his father’s passing:
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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. 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. #KirkDouglas
Born in 1916, Douglas made his film debut aged 30 in “The Strange Love of Martha Ivers.” His first Academy Award nomination for Best Actor came in 1949 with Mark Robson’s boxing drama “Champion.” He starred alongside Marilyn Maxwell and Academy Award nominee Arthur Kennedy, in the film that took home the Oscar for Best Film Editing.
His next Oscar nomination came in 1952 for Vincente Minnelli’s melodrama “The Bad and the Beautiful.” The film’s five wins are a record for a film snubbed in both Picture and Director, with Douglas’ nomination the only nomination it lost that night.
In 1956, Douglas portrayed the Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh in the biopic “Lust for Life,” once again collaborating with Minnelli. Douglas won his first Golden Globe for his performance but lost the Oscar to Yul Brynner for “The King and I.”
Perhaps Douglas’ most iconic role came in 1960 when he starred in Stanley Kubrick’s “Spartacus.” He played the titular character in a film that would become a staple in Kubrick’s filmography and considered one of his very best. He also starred in Kubrick’s “Paths of Glory” three years prior. Despite not receiving an Academy Award nomination for his performance, it’s the role that film fans across the world will remember Douglas best for. The film also became notable for the role that blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo had in the making of the film, with Douglas openly supportive of Trumbo and ensuring he was credited on the movie.
In January 1996, Douglas suffered a stroke, which affected his ability to speak. Eventually, it improved although never fully recovered. Just two months after the scare, Douglas was able to accept his honorary Academy Award, which he received in March of that year.
Douglas had hobbies outside of acting, including an avid passion for blogging. He posted semi-regularly on the website “Huffington Post” and many cited Douglas to be the world’s oldest blogger. Douglas published 11 books throughout his life, with his most recent coming in 2014 with “Life Could Be Verse: Reflections on Love, Loss, and What Really Matters.”
His son Michael is still very much a staple in Hollywood, and is a two-time Academy Award winner for his work as a producer on “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and for his performance in “Wall Street.”
Tributes poured in on Twitter in the hours after the news initially broke and tributes are being paid still today.
Kirk Douglas. The inspirational Scalawag. 103 years on this earth. That’s got a nice ring to it! Great hanging with you man.
— Danny DeVito (@DannyDeVito) February 6, 2020
“I wanted to be an actor ever since I was a kid in the second grade. I did a play, and my mother made a black apron, and I played a shoemaker. After the performance, [my father] gave me my first Oscar: an ice cream cone.” -Kirk Douglas
Goodbye to a Hollywood legend. pic.twitter.com/vnu1Hkb2FA
— The Academy (@TheAcademy) February 5, 2020
Legendary actor Kirk Douglas has passed on today at the age of 103. An Academy Award winning actor and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Douglas was a champion for many just causes and lived a long and storied life. He was adored and beloved, and he shall be missed.
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) February 5, 2020
Deadline reports that a private funeral will be held for Douglas.
What was your favorite Kirk Douglas performance? Share your thoughts.