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Welcome to the Posts section of the official Kirk Douglas website. Its purpose is to let Kirk share his thoughts and activities with you, and to enable you to share your thoughts with him.

Below you’ll find links to the most recent posts, regardless of category.

If you click on the “Reflections” button to the left, you’ll be taken to a page where Kirk, a best-selling writer as well as a movie star, has posted his most recent thoughts and musings.

If you click the “Activities” button, you’ll be taken to a page where you can learn about current and past goings-on in which Kirk is involved.

By clicking “Fan Mail,” you’ll have the opportunity to share your thoughts with Kirk.

Kirk's most recent book Life Could Be Verse was published December 2, 2014. This link will enable you to get a copy, and have part of the proceeds go to the work of The Douglas Foundation.

Kirk Douglas and wife Anne reflect on life and a 60-year romance

--Associated Press December 11, 2014

Kirk Douglas is done with writing.

The rakish screen legend with the famously dimpled chin made that abundantly clear on a recent afternoon at his Beverly Hills home, a few days before the release of his poetry collection "Life Could Be Verse: Reflections on Love, Loss, and What Really Matters."

"To me, this is my best book, and my last book," said Douglas, seated next to Anne Douglas, his wife of over 60 years.

It was a pronouncement that came up more than a few times. The "Spartacus" star, who just turned 98, has 87 films to his name, 11 books, and is one of the last living members of old Hollywood. By now, the world probably thinks it knows Kirk Douglas.

But in some ways, "Life Could Be Verse" is his most personal work, featuring poems from throughout his life along with essays and private family photos that help paint a picture of Douglas as a man, a father and a husband.

In an industry not known for domestic stability, Kirk and Anne Douglas may be one of the great Hollywood romances. Seated closely on a cozy couch in a home that is elegant, modest and lived-in, the couple recalled their first meeting in Paris. He was working on the film "Act of Love." She was the publicist.

"I thought she was so beautiful, and I lowered my voice and said, 'Would you like to have dinner?'" he said. "I waited for an answer and she said, 'No, I think I will go home and make some eggs and go to bed.'"

Anne Douglas (then Buydens) had her own thoughts about transient movie stars. A lot of her friends were going out with actors at the time. "I said to myself, I'm not going to do that. I will work and I will do my work for the movie that I was hired for, but no intimate connection with the movie stars," she said.

Then she attended a charity event where actors played the parts of circus performers. Kirk Douglas, sporting a tuxedo, decided his talent would be cleaning up after the elephants.

"I held on until he picked up the elephant doo," she said, laughing heartily. "That did it for me."

Douglas, not missing a beat, chimed in: "Obviously she was looking for a garbage collector."

Still, a cute beginning is hardly noteworthy. Longevity is. "Romance begins at 80, and I ought to know," he said, referencing one of his poems.

"I'm a romantic guy. You think I'm always shooting guns with John Wayne, but I can be romantic. And, listen, we're sitting here. We have been married for 60 years. A few poems help."

Romance is just one of their secrets. Over the years, they have devoted themselves to philanthropy. The shared passion has been important for the couple, who've endured tragedy and loss, including his stroke in 1996 and the death of their youngest son, Eric Douglas, in 2004.

"Our goal has been, since we're able to do that, to help a little bit and to share what you have with those in need. That has been a very big bond between us," said Anne Douglas.

They've sold art from their personal collection to help fund various causes, including the restoration of over 400 playgrounds in the Los Angeles area and the development of a shelter for homeless women downtown. In 2012, the couple pledged $50 million to five charitable organizations.

Giving has been in Kirk Douglas' bones since childhood. "I was a boy who didn't have enough to eat. I had six sisters, no brothers. We were living by the railroad tracks and every night, hobos would come and knock on the door. And even though we didn't have enough, my mother always saved something so when they came to the door, she had something to give them. She taught me at an early age to help other people."

His career is pointedly on the back burner as he reflects on his life. A rebel on the screen and off, he counts crediting blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo on "Spartacus" as his most rebellious move. "I was much younger then, and I was much more stubborn," he said.

Now, Kirk and Anne Douglas are focused on their home, family and reflecting on a life well-lived. They recently hosted Thanksgiving at their home near Santa Barbara. Among the 14 attendees were Michael Douglas, his children and Michael Douglas' mother, actress Diana Dill, whom Anne Douglas refers to as "our ex-wife."

 

"We are living in a town of make-believe. I have done about 90 movies. That means that every time I was pretending to be someone else. There comes a time in your life when you say, well, 'who am I?'" he said. "I have found writing books a good substitute to making pictures. When you write a book, you get to determine what part you are playing."

 

At 98, Kirk Douglas Looks Back On His Start in Hollywood

--Variety December 9, 2014

Kirk Douglas

Legendary actor Kirk Douglas is celebrating his 98th birthday Dec. 9, with a book of poems called “Life Could Be Verse” (HCI Books). His storied career began on the Broadway stage, where he says, “I got a few bit parts, and absolutely no press notice” — that is, until “The Wind Is Ninety.”

Do you remember your  first mention in Variety?
In June 1945, I opened in a drama called “The Wind Is Ninety,” playing the ghost of a World War I soldier who takes the ghost of a World War II pilot back to his family to watch them receive news of his death. Although the critic gave it a mixed review — he mostly summarized a plot he found confusing — it was the first time I saw my name in Variety. Miraculously, the play was a hit. In January of 1946, the producers bought an ad in Variety quoting other critics about my performance: “Kirk Douglas is nothing short of superb” and “Kirk Douglas does an inspired job with a difficult role.”

 

How did you get to Hollywood?
My good friend Lauren Bacall — the toast of Hollywood after her film debut in “To Have and Have Not” — saw the ad. She told producer Hal Wallis to see me in the play. He listened to her. I had a major part in his next movie, “The Strange Love of Martha Ivers,” with Barbara Stanwyck and Van Heflin. It was a bigger paycheck than I’d ever gotten. That’s why I came to Hollywood — for the money. It took me a few more flops on Broadway to “settle” for movies. I got used to seeing my name in Army Archerd’s column in Variety.

 

What acting achievements are you proudest of?
I opted to play Midge Kelly in “Champion” rather than listen to my agents who advised me to join the A-list cast of “The Great Sinner” at MGM. Ever hear of it? I thought not. Instead I was the antihero in a black-and-white low-budget film by independent producer Stanley Kramer and written by his talented partner, writer Carl Foreman. It won me my first Oscar nomination, and made me a genuine star. That enabled me to start my own production company, Bryna, to make the films that no one else wanted to do, but that I considered important. Like “Paths of Glory,” with Stanley Kubrick; like “Spartacus” from a book by a blacklisted writer, Howard Fast. I hired the blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo under the name Sam Jackson. Against advice, I decided to put Dalton’s true name onscreen.

 

What advice do you have for up-and-coming actors?
You want to know what I wish I could tell my younger self? Don’t do your own stunts! I pay the price every day for my machismo derring-do. Two knee replacements, bad back, etc. But, then, I never anticipated I’d reach 98. I still can’t believe it, but I’m grateful to be here.

 

 

I've Made About 90 Feature Films, but These Are the Ones I'm Proudest Of

--Huffington Post December 9, 2014

Editor's note: For the release of Kirk Douglas' new book, Life Could Be Verse: Reflections on Love, Loss, and What Really Matters, HuffPost Entertainment asked the decorated actor to recall some of the fondest memories from his storied career. We sent Douglas a list of select films, and he graciously responded with a personal reflection on his work. Read on for what Douglas had to say of his 68 years in the business.

 

Over some 70 years, I made about 90 feature films, starting with The Strange Love of Martha Ivers in 1946 and ending with It Runs in the Family in 2003 -- a wonderful experience, because I got to work with my son Michael, my grandson Cameron and my first wife, Diana Dill. I have forgotten most of them, and so has the public. However, I am proud of the ones I will tell you about, especially those I made through my own production company Bryna. They include Paths of Glory, Spartacus, Seven Days in May, and my favorite of all, Lonely Are the Brave. A few films are sentimental favorites that mark meaningful times in my off-screen life and milestones in my rise to stardom. Others are meaningful to me because, while entertaining the public, they also gave insight into serious issues. I will tell you my choices.

 

The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946)

Let's start with my first film, The Strange Love of Martha Ivers, a film noir made at Paramount. You know, I never wanted to be anything but a New York stage actor, but that was a precarious career for a man with a young family. I was in a play called The Wind Is Ninety -- don't ask me what the title means -- when I got a visit backstage from an important Hollywood producer, Hal Wallis. My friend Lauren Bacall had urged him to see me when he was in New York because I had gotten good reviews. He offered me a job. I could not turn down a movie starring Barbara Stanwyck and Van Heflin. Besides, it was a better paycheck than I could get on Broadway. All across the country on the train, I memorized my part so I could hold my own with the seasoned film stars. I remember saying my lines perfectly during the first rehearsal. Pretty impressive, I thought, until I saw the way everyone was looking at me. I had learned Van Heflin's part instead of the role of the weak, alcoholic husband of Martha Ivers. How mortifying! My next humiliation was not far behind. The director told me to light a cigarette. I didn't smoke, but I obeyed. It made me dizzy and nauseous, and I ran to my dressing room to throw up. After the film wrapped, I went back to New York and got parts in a few more flops. So I became a film actor out of necessity, and soon I was working regularly in Hollywood -- as well as smoking four packs a day.

 

Champion (1949)

Champion was a turning point in my young career. I had an opportunity to make a big Technicolor picture at MGM called The Great Sinner starring Ava Gardner, Gregory Peck, and Lionel Barrymore. I turned it down to play Midge Kelly, a not-very-likeable boxer in a small independent film put together by young unknowns -- producer Stanley Kramer, writer Carl Foreman, and director Mark Robson. My agent was very unhappy. I was in pretty good shape, but I had never boxed. I didn't want them to use a body double, so I went into serious training with Mushy Callahan, an ex-welterweight champion. You know, it's hard to make a movie punch look real. In the scene where my opponent was to catch me with a faked uppercut as I bounced off the ropes, he actually knocked me out. Now that's movie realism! Champion got me a Best Actor nomination for an Oscar and made me a star. And that other film, The Great Sinner? It was a flop.

 

Ace in the Hole (1951)

To no one's surprise, I again played the self-serving bad guy in Billy Wilder's drama about a disgraced journalist trying to reinvent his big career in small-town Albuquerque. When a tunnel collapses outside a small town, he sees a big opportunity in his exclusive coverage of the man trapped below, convincing him to delay rescue for the sake of the headlines. My co-star was Jan Sterling, playing the the victim's scheming wife. In one scene I am supposed to choke her. Before the cameras rolled, I told Jan to let me know if I was being too rough. When she turned blue and went limp, I released her. "Why didn't you stop me?!"  I demanded when she came to. "I couldn't," she rasped, "because you were choking me." Ace in the Hole, redubbed The Big Carnival in America, was not a hit at the time, but it became a cult favorite. I loved working with Billy, who became a good friend.

 

The Bad and the Beautiful (1952)

Wasn't I lucky that Clark Gable turned down the role, since it earned me my second Academy nomination? Lana Turner played my beautiful discovery. We shot at MGM with Vincente Minnelli directing. One day I had a chat with Francis X. Bushman, who had a small part. Bushman had been a major star in the silents and talkies, but he had just faded away. Now I learned why. At the height of his fame, he inadvertently offended the all-powerful Louis B. Mayer by keeping him waiting a few minutes. Mayer, in turn, banned him from MGM and blackballed him in the industry. This was his first time on the lot in 25 years. Bushman's story gave me some useful insight into the ruthless, selfish character I was playing -- still another tough-guy antihero. I was doing well with these roles.

Act of Love (1953)

I don't know if this is a good film, but to me it's a great film because that's where I met my wife, Anne Buydens, to whom I have been married for 60 years. I write about our strange romance in Life Could Be Verse. Anne was hired to do publicity for Act of Love, and we became friends. I, of course, wanted more (she was beautiful and had a fantastic sense of humor), but she didn't want to be a movie star's latest fling. One evening I took her with me to a charity event at Cirque d'Hiver in Paris, in which French movie stars were the featured performers. I was known as "The Darling Brute" in French media, so the organizers asked me to participate. I went backstage, where they found something "appropriate" for me. Right after the elephant act, I came out -- still in my tuxedo -- with a broom and shovel to clean up the droppings. Anne laughed so hard that I knew I had won her over.

 

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954)

This was the first movie Walt Disney made with live characters. We were on a six-day-week shooting schedule, so Anne and I flew up to Las Vegas after work on Saturday to get married, took in Sinatra at the Sahara, and flew back to L.A. the next night. I played the banjo and sang in the film. I also recorded "Gotta Whale of a Tale," and it became a hit. It even topped Sinatra's latest record for a few weeks -- which I enjoyed teasing him about over the years. It became a song my kids and I liked to sing together. During a scene in It Runs in the Family where Michael, Cameron and I are fishing in a canoe, Michael suggested we warble it together. I enjoyed that.

 

The Indian Fighter (1955)

When I started Bryna, my own production company (named for my mother), this was our first picture. It was a Western shot in Oregon, and I offered my ex-wife Diana a good part. Anne was pregnant with our first son, Peter, but she readily agreed to have my older boys, Michael and Joel, stay with her in Beverly Hills while Diana and I were on location. To this day, we call Diana "our first wife" and remain good friends. The film did well, and the Bryna Company was on its way.

Lust for Life (1956)

I wanted to make Lust for Life at Bryna, but it turned out that MGM owned the rights. I still wanted to play Van Gogh, especially since John Houseman and Vincente Minnelli, my team from The Bad and the Beautiful, were attached. I loved being back in France, and we shot in all the places where Van Gogh had lived and painted. But it was also horrible. I became so immersed in his tortured life that it was hard to pull back. In makeup I looked like him, and he had been my age when he died. Sometimes I would reach my hand up to touch my ear to make sure it was still there. After its release, I was contacted by Marc Chagall to do his life story. I admired him greatly, but I never wanted to play another artist. My friend John Wayne was not happy with me playing Vincent. He said we owed it to our public to play only strong, tough characters. I told him that I would continue to play any role I considered interesting. Despite my difficulty in shedding the Van Gogh persona, I did eventually come back to myself. On the other hand, I don't think John (I never called him "Duke") ever dropped the role of John Wayne that he so carefully crafted for his life.

 

Paths of Glory (1957)

I had seen an interesting film called The Killing by a young director named Stanley Kubrick. I contacted him to see if he had any other projects. He gave me Paths of Glory, and I loved it even though I knew it would never be a commercial success. I got financing from United Artists, and we headed off to Germany to shoot around Munich. When I arrived, Stanley had completely rewritten the script. It was awful. He wanted to make it more commercial, he explained. As it was a Bryna film, I insisted we use the script I loved. I was right. It didn't make money, but it was a critical success. I found Stanley to be supremely talented but extremely difficult. With a bigger budget and a bigger payday on Spartacus, he became twice as difficult, but what a talent!

 

Spartacus (1960)

"I am Spartacus" is the most remembered line of the film and is often parodied. I used it as the title of my 2012 book about the making of the movie. Believe it or not, Stanley Kubrick hated the scene where all of Spartacus' men claim to be him. He didn't want to shoot it, but I insisted. After all, I was not only the star but also the producer who signed his paycheck. Our screenwriter was Dalton Trumbo, working under the pseudonym "Sam Jackson" because he was on Hollywood's notorious blacklist. What a shameful period that was, especially since we were all hypocrites, hiring the blacklisted to use their talents at reduced wages. I wanted Dalton to write The Last Cowboy, which Universal retitled Lonely Are the Brave, but I asked him to write Spartacus first. I was in a race to show a finished script to my dream cast of British actors -- Laurence Olivier, Peter Ustinov, and Charles Laughton -- before Yul Brynner, with a rival project called The Gladiators, could approach them. Spartacus was a demanding movie, and I was crucified not only on screen but off of it, by the likes of powerful columnist Hedda Hopper and the American Legion, for using a book written by Howard Fast, a Communist, and giving Dalton screen credit. But the public embraced it, especially after the popular new President John F. Kennedy came to see it in a Washington theater and then proceeded to praise it.

 

Lonely Are the Brave (1962)

As I have said, this is my favorite movie. I love the theme that if you try to be an individual, society will crush you. I play a modern-day cowboy still living by the code of the Old West. Dalton wrote a perfect screenplay -- one draft, no revisions. My character gets into a bar fight with a vicious one-armed man. He was actually Burt Lancaster's stand-in, who had lost his arm in the war. It was a tough shoot in and around Albuquerque -- high altitude, snow, fog and freezing rain in May! I didn't get along with the director very well; plus, he had no regard for safety. When we were shooting on a narrow ledge with a steep drop, he asked me to walk around my horse on the outside. I wanted to be on the inside against the wall, because the horse instinctively would protect itself. Even after I explained, he argued with me, but I had seen too many unnecessary accidents to agree. The best relationship I had on this film was with my horse, Whisky. Of course, the horse couldn't talk back.

Seven Days in May (1964)

I was advised that making this movie would be risky because it concerns an attempted military overthrow of the U.S. government. But I ran into President Kennedy in Washington at a fancy buffet dinner. He had loved the book and spent 20 minutes telling me why it would make a great film. I could have played either of two roles: the bad guy behind the takeover plot or the good guy who blows the whistle to the president. I sent the script to my pal "Boit" Lancaster, telling him to choose whichever role he wanted to play. I would take the other. I did enjoy playing a nice guy for a change. We needed a shot of me entering the Pentagon, and nothing but the real thing would look authentic. We stole the shot, concealing the cameras in a van parked across the street. I was dressed in my Marine colonel's uniform. The guard saluted me. I saluted back and walked in, waited a bit, and walked out. Seven Days in May had its first sneak preview the night I closed in the play of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, which limped along for five months -- my final attempt to make it as a major Broadway star.

 

Bonus: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)

And that brings me to One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, a movie I neither produced nor starred in despite all my best efforts. My son Michael asked if he could take a crack at producing it, so I gave him the rights, not at all sure whether he would have any more luck than I did. Well, it opened to raves, and on Academy Awards night, the film won all five major Oscars. I couldn't have been prouder of Michael, even though he wouldn't let me play McMurphy. "You're too old," he said. And this was in 1975, some 40 years ago! I forgave him. Jack Nicholson was superb.

 

 

Kirk Turns 98!

Kirk Douglas turns 98 today, December 9 2014. Happy Birthday, Kirk!

Kirk Douglas proves a sublime master of rhyme on page and in person

--Los Angeles Times December 9, 2014

Kirk Douglas

Kirk Douglas may be one of the biggest actors of his era, with starring roles in 1960's "Spartacus," 1949's "Champion" and 1951's "Ace in the Hole." But on a recent crisp morning, he was having a grand time simply reciting his poetry by heart for an audience of one. With a twinkle of his blue eyes, he proclaimed:

Romance begins at 80

And I ought to know.

I live with a girl

Who will tell you so.

Douglas, who survived a near-fatal stroke in 1996 that affected his speech, has been a part of the Hollywood landscape since he made his film debut in the 1946 noir "The Strange Love of Martha Ivers." He earned three Oscar nominations for lead actor for "Champion," which made him a star, 1952's "The Bad and the Beautiful" and 1956's "Lust for Life," in which he played Vincent Van Gogh, and he received an honorary Oscar shortly after his stroke.

A savvy producer, he also helped to break the Communist blacklist in Hollywood when he insisted that blacklisted "Spartacus" screenwriter Dalton Trumbo receive screen credit.

 

These days, though Douglas walks with a cane and is on the frail side, he's sweet and full of good humor. He now wears his white hair pulled back into a ponytail.

A savvy producer, he also helped to break the Communist blacklist in Hollywood when he insisted that blacklisted "Spartacus" screenwriter Dalton Trumbo receive screen credit.

These days, though Douglas walks with a cane and is on the frail side, he's sweet and full of good humor. He now wears his white hair pulled back into a ponytail.

"I let it grow, and it grew so long someone said, 'Let's make a ponytail,'" Douglas said. "Do you think I'm good-looking?"

 Douglas has written several books since the publication in 1988 of his autobiography, "The Ragman's Son," and his latest is "Life Could Be Verse," which chronicles his "reflections on love, loss and what really matters." It was released Dec. 2, a week before his 98th birthday Tuesday.

The slim book includes poems he's written over the last seven decades, autobiographical stories and professional and family photographs.

"This is my last book," said Douglas, sitting in his favorite chair in the family room of the Beverly Hills home he shares with wife, Anne. The two met in Paris in 1953 when she was the publicist on his film "Act of Love."

"I think it is the best book I have ever written because I have done something I have never done before," Douglas said.

For years Douglas "hid" his poetic side. "But when you get to be 98, you begin to be brave," he said. "You get to be strong enough to be weak."

"Life Can Be Verse" is also a love letter to his wife.

"We've been married over 60 years and that's something," he said, breaking into a warm smile.

As a college student at St. Lawrence University, Douglas used poetry to get the attention of the girl with the flaming red hair who sat in front of him in class.

How oft have I sat behind thee

In awe and watched thy titian hair

Resplendent in the rays

Of morning's golden light

The poem worked. "We had two years," he said.

Douglas not only recited poetry during the interview but also broke out into song, remembering when he was cast in the landmark 1944 musical "On the Town." He was dismissed from the show when he couldn't reach the high notes in "Lonely Town."

"A town's a lonely town," Douglas started to croon. "When you pass through and there is no one waiting there for you."

Though his Broadway musical career never came to fruition ("such a disappointment because I loved that musical," he said), Douglas and frequent costar Burt Lancaster did three song-and-dance routines for the Oscars, he said. He also performed "A Whale of a Tale" in the 1954 Disney classic "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.”

"They made a commercial record of it," he noted with pride.

Some of his poems in the book are darker and brutally honest, especially "For Michael," which deals with his eldest son, Oscar-winning actor-producer Michael Douglas, with whom he has a close relationship.

"Am I a good father?" I asked my son

He took a pause, too long for me

I waited and waited for him to answer

And finally he said, "Ultimately"

"He never asked me for anything," said Douglas of his son when he was just starting out. "Once I said, 'Michael, I am your father, you can ask me.'"

 

As for his wife, Douglas said he's more in love with her than ever. "She usually sits there," he said, pointing to her spot. "I sit here. We talk about things that have happened. We call that the golden hour."

A Haunting Look Into Child Protective Services: ‘Luna Gale’ At The KDT

--neontommy.com December 7, 2014

Reyna de Courcy and Mary Beth Fisher in "Luna Gale." (Craig Schwartz/Center Theatre Group)

The world of Child Protective Services is not an elegant one and “Luna Gale,” now playing at the Kirk Douglas Theatre, thrives in its gritty world. Directed by Robert Falls, the play provides for a provocative and emotional rollercoaster throughout its full two hours.

The Kirk Douglas Theatre has a reputation for consistently putting on intense and revolutionary shows that push the boundaries of the theatrical arts and “Luna Gale” is no exception. Possessing some of the best acting in town, direction that is meticulously detailed, and a set design (Tood Rosenthal) that is, for lack of a better word, badass, "Luna Gale" exceeds expectations.

Written by Rebecca Gilman, “Luna Gale” delivers hit after hit of excitement and torment. The story centers on Caroline (Mary Beth Fisher), an employee for the Child Protective Services who helps decide whether children are placed within foster care, or given back to their families. The play begins when an infant named Luna Gale is brought to the emergency ward with a threatening illness. Her parents, Karlie (Reyna de Courcy) and Peter (Colin Sphar), suffer from an addiction to meth that they must learn to control if they want to retain custody of their child. When Karlie’s mother gets involved in the fight for custody (wanting the child herself) a thrilling drama ensues concerning cruel family secrets and the dark recesses of the human psyche.

Mary Beth Fisher gives a phenomenal performance as the quick witted and deeply tormented Caroline. Constantly providing a great mix of humor and honesty that keeps the heavy subject matter from overwhelming the production, while still fully immersing the audience in her struggles. Fisher does a terrific job of playing a character that is not entirely morally agreeable, blurring the line between what is acceptable for someone of her position to do and what is not. Accompanying her on stage is a fantastic ensemble performance in which every character adds different perspectives to the overarching conflict. In a show with no true villain, it is electrifying to see the emotional depths brooding within each character. 

Colin Sphar (Peter) gives a uniquely enjoyable performance, seeming at first like any other stereotypical teenager who is not ready for the responsibility of adulthood. But Colin immediately rises above those assumptions and reveals the layered craft in which his character has been constructed. A caring boyfriend, loving father, and recovering meth addict, Peter, like so many people, struggles to find stable ground. Colin performs this role with skill, expressing so much with so little. It does not take outlandish movements or large fluctuations in his voice to express character objectives. Instead itnis the small looks and the minute actions he takes. This compliment really spans to the whole cast and production overall. There is a clear attention to detail that gives the show a refined feel.

This specificity carries into the directing of the show which is spot on. Robert Falls gives justice to all of the great aspects at his disposal – the actors, set, script – and raises them to the highest level. The play moves like a dream, never dragging or stalling in action. "Luna Gale" truly is a show that you will not want to end, but do not worry, the end is done with class and entirely earns its climactic finality. Robert does a terrific job of making the world feel real, every setting is impeccably designed and the actors feel completely comfortable within the scenes. 

Caroline’s office is covered in stacks of folders and papers, a complete mess. But this chaos adds to a very important aspect of the plays message, revealing just how little support there is for Child Protective Services’ employees and how overwhelming the career can be. Another great touch in Caroline’s office is a self-motivation poster hanging center stage that says “perseverance.” This poster connects perfectly to Caroline who is obsessed with her job and gives everything she has to help children. While uplifting, the poster is also very disturbing as the play progresses and Caroline’s perseverance begins to really show the inner turmoil that is gnashing and tearing within her.

The set of a show is often something that an audience notices but does not pay much attention to. That is not the case with “Luna Gale.” The set is unbelievable in its construction and use throughout the show. It is a show within the show. Designed by Todd Rosenthal, the set is built on a wheel that spins during scene changes to reveal the next scene. The set is broken into three main layouts with one facing the audience at a time. Often switching between Caroline’s office, Karlie’s mother, Cindy’s (Jordan Baker) kitchen, and an emergency room. These three main locations are also traded out for Karlie and Peter’s living room and a coffee shop throughout the production. Unbelievably difficult to properly describe, it is a magic show to watch as these sets come out so consistently and so beautifully.

A thrilling, heart wrenching analysis of the modern Child Protective Services, “Luna Gale” keeps the audience on edge long past curtain. A great show is measured by the discussion that it provokes after its completion, and “Luna Gale” gives more than enough to talk about. The cruelty and beauty of humans, the insanity that exists within everyone, and the complexity of faith are all driving factors in this play. The show never lets up from the important messages within the script, but still manages to provide plenty of moments of intelligent humor and honest passion. “Luna Gale” succeeds on all accounts and is a must see for anyone. Two hours of great theatre that will linger for so much longer.

"Luna Gale" is playing through December 21 at the Kirk Douglas Theatre (9820 W Washington Blvd, Culver City). Tickets $25-$55. For more information visit CenterTheatreGroup.org 

 

 

St. Lawrence University to name new residence hall after actor Kirk Douglas

--northcountrynow.com December 5, 2014

St. Lawrence University will name its new $14 million residence hall after famous actor and SLU alumni Kirk Douglas.

On behalf of The Douglas Foundation, which the star and his wife Anne created to support their many charitable gifts, Kirk Douglas said, “I am very happy that the new residence hall will bear my name. This way I will always be part of the campus I love. While I appreciate this great honor, my wife and I find our greatest joy in the heartfelt letters we receive each year from our scholarship recipients, telling us what a St. Lawrence education means to them and their future.”

In his bestselling autobiography, The Ragman’s Son, the legendary star told how he hitchhiked to St. Lawrence University on the back of a fertilizer truck. A sympathetic Dean, Edwin Hulett, gave him provisional admission to the college, despite his confession that he only had $167. With a wrestling scholarship and numerous campus jobs, young Izzy Demsky graduated in 1939 and went on to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. For his Broadway and Hollywood career, he changed his name to Kirk Douglas.

As the son of impoverished Jewish immigrants from Russia, Douglas has always remembered how difficult it was for a poor kid from a minority background to afford a higher education. He and his wife, Anne, through their Douglas Foundation, started the Kirk Douglas Scholarship at St. Lawrence in 1999 to support students who represent diversity, have financial need and demonstrate excellence in academic ability and community leadership. They expanded the program in 2012 with an additional $5 million gift.

According to St. Lawrence University president William L. Fox, the Board of Trustees voted unanimously to name the new residence hall on campus in honor of the actor who will celebrate his 98th birthday on Dec. 9, with the publication of his 11th book, a small volume called "Life Could Be Verse: Reflections On Love, Loss, And What Really Matters." The book contains two poems he wrote while at St. Lawrence and includes a photo in which Douglas poses with classmates, one of whom is the red-headed girl who inspired both poems.

Among Douglas’s many prestigious awards – including the French Legion d’Honneur, the Freedom Medal (America’s highest civilian honor), an Academy Award and a Kennedy Center Honor – he proudly cites his honorary doctorate from St. Lawrence in 1958, SLU said. Now he has his own residence hall. It’s in close proximity to another building on campus named for Dean Hulett, the man who once took a chance on a poor boy from Amsterdam, New York.

 

Kirk Douglas Hall will be dedicated at a future ceremony, the details of which will be announced at a later date, SLU said.

People Magazine Accidentally Publishes Kirk Douglas Obit

--Huffington Post, December 1, 2014

Hollywood legend Kirk Douglas turns 98 next week, but reports of his death began circulating online over the weekend after People accidentally posted his obit on the magazine's website.

"DO NOT PUB Kirk Douglas Dies" the headline read.

"Kirk Douglas, one of the few genuine box-office names to emerge just as TV was overtaking American culture in the years right after World War II, died TK TK TK," the article said, with the "TK" referring to copy "to come."

"He was 97 (DOB 12/9/1916) and had been in good health despite having suffered a debilitating 1996 stroke that rendered his speech difficult," the article continued.

The Hollywood Reporter said the People obit had a Sept. 29 timestamp on it, although it's not clear if that's when the article was published.

The obit was removed after links to it began circulating on social media.

It should be noted that most news organizations, including The Huffington Post, work on obituaries for notable people in advance.

Douglas has written extensively about his career for The Huffington Post. Earlier this year, he wrote about his friend Elaine Stritch after her death at the age of 89.

He's also written about the Popestroke awareness and technology.

And last year, Douglas reflected on life as he turned 97.

"I won't pretend that getting older is easy," he wrote. "But I find that it's given me a perspective that I lacked when I was younger."

Douglas said that when he was younger, he was always busy making movies and traveling for his role as a Goodwill Ambassador.

Now, I treasure the quiet times: reading books that make me think about new ideas; watching my roses bloom; gazing at the palm trees shimmering against the afternoon sky; seeing the simple path of a cloud across the sky; and especially sitting with Anne in front of the fire at sunset -- the Golden Hour.

Douglas will celebrate his 98th birthday on Dec. 9. Last week, he told Entertainment Tonight that he wanted to live to 100. See the clip below.

 

His 11th book, "Life Could Be Verse," goes on sale tomorrow.

Through poetry, Kirk Douglas reflects on 'Life'

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--USA Today December 2, 2014

BEVERLY HILLS — With almost 100 film credits to his name, Kirk Douglas recently caught sight himself on television in a movie he couldn't place. "I said, 'What picture was that?' I kept looking. … Then the camera came up for a close-up, and it was (his son) Michael!" the legendary star says with a chuckle, that famous cleft marking a face known to all since he hit the ring in 1949's Champion.

Douglas, who turns 98 on Dec. 9, sits in his home in Beverly Hills, just a few blocks from the infamous watering hole the Beverly Hills Hotel. He's charming as ever and dressed in blue, long white hair neatly tied behind his head, hands folded neatly around a copy of Life Could Be Verse, a new collection of poems and stories from his life (HCI, out Tuesday).

"This was the first time I was looking over things in my life, and I was surprised at how many poems I've written. So I sort of … put all the poems in a book," says Douglas, who dedicated the collection to his wife of 60 years, Anne.

With a title borrowed from the Yiddish phrase, Douglas traces his journey from adolescence to retirement through simple, vivid prose: His ascent to stardom is rooted in a poem called "Luck," his marriage is sketched in "Romance Begins at 80," his failings as a father are explored in "Michael." ("I became a 'good father', /It took me too long to see ,/When I needed him/More than he needed me.")

Father and son had lunch just before this interview; their relationship today is "very good," says Kirk, who speaks with clarity and zest despite slowed speech he regained with difficulty after a severe stroke in 1996. "I am very proud of him because I think he's a brilliant actor. Really brilliant."

But "I always tried to keep him from being an actor. When Michael went to college, I thought he was going to be a lawyer. Every Jewish father wants a lawyer or a doctor." When Michael had his first role in a play, Douglas turned up to see him. "He had a little part with a few words in a Shakespeare play. And when it was over he said 'How was I, dad?' And I said, 'Michael, you were awful.' I thought that would discourage him and he would become a lawyer."

Douglas is quick to remind there are several more in his brood ("You know, I have four kids"), and Life Could Be Verse includes stories of sons Joel (like Michael, his mother is actress Diana Dill) and Peter (son of Anne), who are both producers in Hollywood.

Heartbreak is there, too. A poem titled "For Eric" chronicles his sorrow over his youngest son's death in 2004 at age 46 from an overdose.

Douglas is equally forthright about the effects of his stroke at age 80, which he writes left him considering suicide. "I lost my voice. I couldn't speak. What can an actor do who can't speak? I still struggle with speaking, but at least I can talk. And I'm grateful for that. But that was the darkest moment in my life: An actor who can't talk."

Today he and Anne spend weekdays in their Beverly Hills home and weekends in Montecito. The holidays will be spent in California, with the family gathering.

Life Could Be Verse is filled with family photographs, including recent shots of Michael and Catherine Zeta-Jones, who separated briefly last year. "They are happy," says Douglas, marveling at Skyping with Zeta-Jones just that morning while lunching with his son. "Catherine is doing a picture in England. And there she was. She could see us. I could see her. I couldn't believe that. It's beyond my comprehension."

Douglas calls Michael's cancer battle "awful" but says, "I told him today, I said, 'Mike, you look better than ever.' He said, 'I feel great.' So I'm pleased by that, because I was very, very concerned."

And the Douglas Hollywood dynasty will continue. "They will be actors, I know it," he predicts of Michael and Catherine's kids. "Dylan is already an actor. He has played in all the school plays. And Carys is a beautiful dancer."

No Kirk Douglas memoir would be complete without mention of Spartacus, and in his new book he recounts how he fought to credit blacklisted writer Dalton Trumbo (who was blacklisted during McCarthyism) onscreen for Spartacus in 1960. "It became a big thing that I put Trumbo's name on the screen," he says in response to those who have questioned whether he overstated his role in his 2012 memoir I Am Spartacus: Making a Film, Breaking the Blacklist. "I'm glad that that period is over and now we can talk about love," he says simply.

Ask him about living through McCarthyism (and 16 presidents) and he's resolute: "Everything can be improved, but I think now we have the best (political) process in the world." And yes, he'd like to see a woman in the White House. "I hope so. I think, who is the boss in my house?" He chuckles. "My wife! She's the boss. And I think there are so many companies now where the CEO is a woman. Why not?"

With a foreword from Don Rickles, the memoir is ultimately dedicated to Anne, 84, who comes up frequently. The biggest lesson of his marriage? "The thing is, when you first fall in love, sex is the dominant factor. But as it dwindles, you should begin to see really what your wife is like. And then you'll find the person that either you love or you don't. In my case," he smiles, "I fell in love."

Spartacus' outlook in 2014? "I wake up in the morning and I say, 'Gee, why do I feel well? I'm 98 years old!'"

Kirk Douglas: Lessons from a legend

--USA Today December 2, 2014

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A big birthday is just around the corner. Kirk Douglas, America's Spartacus, turns 98 on Dec. 9, and he's releasing a work of poetry and stories of his life, Life Could Be Verse (HCI, out Tuesday), for the occasion.

"I've written 10 books," says the witty legendary actor, as sharp and impish as ever, despite navigating a speech impediment that remains from a severe stroke suffered in 1996. "But this was the first time I was looking over the things in my life, and I was surprised to know how many poems I've written."Douglas has worked to regain his speech, but he continued writing all the while, and in 2012 published an in-depth account of his most famous film, I am Spartacus: Making a Film, Breaking the Blacklist. Now, he's reflecting on a life spent in Hollywood, from his first audition with Mae West (a solid rejection) to his changing relationship with son Michael Douglas. USA TODAY's Andrea Mandell catches up with the legend on life at (nearly) 98.

On technology

"Technology frightens me. I don't have a cellphone. I don't even have a watch," says Douglas. "My wife insisted on buying me a computer. I know nothing about computers. But one thing: I love having a place to play solitaire. I play all the time." So who handles his correspondence? "I have a good-looking secretary," he grins. "But really, technology changed the world. People don't write. It's a different world I'm about to leave." Not so fast, a reporter protests. "I'm about to be 98 you think, maybe?" Didn't Moses make it to 120? "Yes, but when they said that he got to 120 nobody has proof of it." And what ofPeople magazine publishing his obituary by mistake online just this past weekend? "The announcement of my death is premature," Douglas said on Monday, via an assistant. "I'm looking forward to turning 98 next week."

On what he watches today

"I watch the news," he says, but not many movies, although he keeps a library of classics in his home. "I have mixed feelings. I feel like for me to watch movies now I would feel like an intruder. Because I don't make any movies (anymore). I thought about making a movie, I was going to have a script written for two people, me and my grandson (Dylan, 14, son of Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones), but I said, 'Oh Kirk, too much work.' "

On romance

"I have been in love with my wife for 60 years," says Douglas of his second wife, Anne, 84, who is running errands during the interview. "And I wrote a poem about that. I think romance begins at 80. And I ought to know, because I live with a girl who would tell you so!" Does he still romance Anne? "Of course! I send her a note, and put it on her pillow. She likes that." In Life Could be Verse, "I tried to take the poems and put them in the story (of my life). And the story ends with my wife and me."

On fatherhood vs. being a grandfather

Douglas acknowledged he's evolved as a father. "I didn't remain so self-centered. When you're trying to be an actor you're just thinking of yourself," says the star, who was nominated for a best-actor Academy Award three times (1950's Champion, 1953'sThe Bad and the Beautiful, 1957's Lust for Life) and awarded an honorary Oscar in 1996. "But when you have had some experiences …you have time to think more about others. You think what you can do to help others. And I think that should be the core of every living (being), to help other people." Today he spends "as much (time) as I can," with his grandkids. "I find my grandchildren very interesting."

On the gridlock on Capitol Hill

"We will always have problems that we have to deal with," says Douglas, who fought to credit writer Dalton Trumbo (who was blacklisted during McCarthyism) onscreen forSpartacus in 1960. "But life goes on. I think the important thing is that people must have a chance. A chance to do something in life. I feel I was given a chance. And I like to help other people get a chance."