Back to Site
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.
News flash! Kirk's most recent book I Am Spartacus! was published June 12, 2012. This link will enable you to get a copy, and have part of the proceeds go to the work of The Douglas Foundation.
If you would like to purchase the Kindle e-Book version of I Am Spartacus, click below.
Kirk Douglas Helps Celebrate 10th Birthday of Kirk Douglas Theatre
- Created on Thursday, October 16th, 2014
- Written by Shalini Dore
--Variety October 15, 2014
Kirk Douglas gave career tips to up-and-coming actors at Tuesday’s celebration of the 10th anniversary of his eponymous theater in Culver City.
When Douglas was starting out in his career he made his way to Broadway, but soon after Hollywood came calling (“They made an offer I couldn’t refuse”) and he headed west. “I gave up my dream of being a big star on Broadway, but in Hollywood I made a lot of money,” he told the rapt crowd. “I learned a lot of things and one of the things I learned was how to get your name on the theater” — dramatic pause — “buy the theater.”
Although he told Variety that he makes it to the Kirk Douglas Theatre “every chance I get,” Michael Ritchie, artistic director of Center Theatre Group, said Douglas is “a constant presence in the lobby and backstage. To watch actors come out of the dressing room after a performance and see Kirk and (his wife) Anne is a treat.”
Ritchie and Douglas thanked Gordon Davidson, the founding artistic director of CTG, for his vision in creating the nonprofit theaters.
Ritchie said the CTG’s plans are to continue using the Kirk Douglas as a space for experimental theater. “More people hear about Culver City and the theater, there is a real sense of life going on here,” he said, adding that he’s planning “more programming for children and families. The three theaters (Ahmanson, Mark Taper and KDT) are unified in what we do and market them.”
The event was billed as the 10th birthday of KDT rather than an anniversary and Douglas invited the audience to return to its 20th with him. Perfs from past stagings including “13” and “Stoop Stories” followed and the control booth was named for Anne Douglas.
(Pictured: Gordon Davidson, Kirk Douglas, Anne Douglas and Michael Ritchie at the 10th birthday party for the Kirk Douglas Theatre)
'Forever,' a harrowing memoir with no Hollywood ending
- Created on Thursday, October 16th, 2014
- Written by Margaret Gray
--Los Angeles Times October 14, 2014
Oe of the few laugh lines in Dael Orlandersmith’s harrowing new solo show, “Forever,” in its world premiere at the Kirk Douglas Theatre, comes in an exchange she describes with an attendant at the morgue after her mother’s death.
She asks him if he’s afraid. His laconic reply: “The dead can’t do nothing to you. It’s the living you’ve got to look out for.”
The wisdom of this risk assessment may appear self-evident. But for Orlandersmith — or for the version of herself she plays in these searching, brutally honest monologues — he’s got it completely backward.
An award-winning playwright, poet and actress, Orlandersmith doesn’t have a lot of trouble with the living these days. In “Forever,” she talks of being warmly welcomed at a recent party, where an attractive man approached her and discussed Chopin.
No, the one she’s got to look out for is her mother, who died in 1989 but who nonetheless retains the power to loom up out of the grave, still stinking of scotch, and make this accomplished, powerful, beautiful woman feel inadequate, ugly and dirty.
“Forever” opens in Paris. Orlandersmith is on a pilgrimage to the Père Lachaise cemetery, the final resting place of many of the artists who gave her hope during her Harlem coming-of-age: Balzac, Chopin, Colette, Modigliani, Edith Piaf and — not least — Jim Morrison.
Takeshi Kata’s bare wooden stage features podium and a chair from which Orlandersmith reads from a script and a table with a record player where she occasionally stops to spin an LP. (Adam Phalen’s sound cues are never too loud, and they fade away at exactly the right moment.)
These artists, Orlandersmith says, are the family she chose for herself, instead of the alcoholic mother who taught her about art but also abused and manipulated her. They replaced the friends she couldn’t find or keep in the ghetto.
She describes walking home from the record store with her first Doors album when a man jeered at her for listening to “white-boy … .” She persevered, rebelliously cultivating her own tastes.
This arc is familiar from Orlandersmith’s earlier solo pieces, “Beauty’s Daughter,” “Monster” and “Gimmick,” all about young black women determined to rise above bleak circumstances, who find salvation in art. But whereas in those works Orlandersmith assumed other personae, here she performs as herself, slipping only briefly into other voices during conversations she reports.
“I have not been gut-honest,” she says. “I have never spoken my mother’s name onstage: Beula.”
Is such gut-honesty necessary? Her mother has been dead more than 20 years. Hasn’t Orlandersmith, after winning an Obie (for “Beauty’s Daughter”) and being nominated for a Pulitzer Prize (for “Yellowman”), exorcised the demons of her past?
And if we, the audience, must revisit her painful history, can’t we be kidded through the hardest incidents? Is there a part where mother and daughter cry and forgive, like in the movies?
Neither Orlandersmith nor her director here, Neel Keller, is interested in moving past or making light of pain, or sparing their audience the discomfort of witnessing it. “Forever” derives much of its power from the anger Orlandersmith carries and unflinchingly expresses.
And as her story makes clear, she has every reason to be angry. She was cruelly victimized, not only by her mother but by a man who broke into their house in the middle of the night and raped her — an incident she recounts in unstinting detail.
Her anger can be powerful, electrifying and cathartic. Her capacity for it may even be, as much as her love of art, what enabled her to survive.
But it can be constricting too, blinkering her to other emotions. When Beula is dying in the hospital surrounded by doting nurses (“surrogate daughters,” Orlandersmith bitterly describes them), the vengeful daughter tells her off with pitiless hatred, like a figure out of Greek tragedy.
From a theatrical perspective, unmodulated rage works best in small doses; too much of it stuns the senses. Subtler moments, as when she confesses her dreams of marrying the Irish cop who was kind to her after her rape, can be more effective.
If Orlandersmith refuses to pander to us, denying us our pat Hollywood closure, she herself embodies the hope implicit in her story. The area around the raised set has been turned into a gallery for her family photos — the originals, it looks like, with curled corners and faded color. In a few of them she’s mugging for the camera, like any kid.
With any luck, after “Forever” Beula will stay peacefully in her grave from now on and let her daughter’s spirit shine.
“Forever,” Kirk Douglas Theatre, 9820 Washington Blvd., Culver City. 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays; 6:30 p.m. Sundays. Call for exceptions. Ends Oct. 26. $20-$30. (213) 628-2772 or www.centertheatregroup.org. Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes.
Dael Orlandersmith's Forever Is a Love-Hate Letter to Her Abusive Mother (GO!)
- Created on Thursday, October 16th, 2014
- Written by Bill Raden
--LA Weekly October 14, 2014
There are many parents present in poet-playwright-performer Dael Orlandersmith’s searing solo stage memoir. They include Chopin and Proust, Oscar Wilde and Sarah Bernhardt, Édith Piaf and Richard Wright — all cited as Orlandersmith’s spiritual forebears and all buried in Paris’ Père Lachaise cemetery. A pilgrimage there bookends Forever, directed by Neel Keller in its world premiere at the Kirk Douglas Theatre.
The two most responsible for creating Orlandersmith the artist, however, turn out to include Père Lachaise’s Jim Morrison, whose poetically inflected music first provided her entrée to New York’s burgeoning downtown music scene of the 1970s and led her to a surrogate family of kindred writers and performers.
But most of all there is Beulah, her berating, belittling, pathologically possessive and ego-smothering, alcoholic mother.
In a portrait at once elegiac and angry, lyrical and recriminatory and rife with the kind of love-hate paradoxes that define any filial relationship but are here represented in extremis, Orlandersmith reconstructs Beulah’s life from South Carolina to a Harlem tenement. That's where she gave birth to the future playwright, who promptly became both emotional crutch and the object of blame for all of the tortured woman’s life disappointments.
Orlandersmith’s intention, she says at one point, was to finally write something with the “naked, gut-honest” candor of an author like Wright. And in the harrowing, very personal and unflinchingly courageous journey described in Forever, she achieves it.
Kirk Douglas Theatre, 9820 Washington Blvd., Culver City; through Oct. 26. (213) 628-2772, centertheatregroup.org.
Kirk Douglas Remembers Lauren Bacall: She Was My "Lucky Charm"
- Created on Wednesday, August 20th, 2014
- Written by Kirk Douglas
--Hollywood Reporter August 20, 2014
With the loss of Lauren Bacall, whom we all called “Betty,” a meaningful part of my history has been extinguished.
I met Betty when she was 17 and I was 24. We were both studying at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. I was on my own in New York with meager funds. That winter, Betty saw me shivering in my thin overcoat. She didn't say anything, but she talked her uncle into giving me one of his two thick coats. I wore it for three years. That sort of unassuming kindness was one of her most endearing characteristics. When I had the honor of presenting Betty with her honorary Oscar in 2009, I told the audience: “People said Bacall was ‘tough.' She’s a pussycat with a heart of gold.”
After World War II ended, I was honorably discharged from the Navy in San Diego. Betty had been discovered by Howard Hawks and was now in Hollywood preparing for her first film, in which she was to star opposite none other than Humphrey Bogart. I wanted to see her before flying back to New York, so I called her, and we arranged to meet for dinner. Of course, she was late. When I stood up to greet her, I noticed that she had the script for To Have and Have Not under her arm. We talked about it, and she read me a few lines: “You know how to whistle, don’t you Steve? You just put your lips together – and blow.”
“Betty,” I said, “you will be a star.” My prophecy came true.
Back in New York, I continued the frustrating task of looking for a job, hopefully in a play that would last for more than a few performances. I had a wife and two children to support. I succeeded in getting the lead in The Wind Is Ninety, and I got good notices.
Shortly after the play opened, Betty attended a cocktail party for the famous producer Hal Wallis, who was going to New York the next day. Betty was always a girl who spoke her mind. She said, “Hal, when you are in New York, you must see The Wind Is Ninety. My friend Kirk Douglas is in it and has gotten rave reviews.” He actually listened to her— did I mention she was persuasive—and soon after I was on my way to Hollywood with a meaty role as Barbara Stanwyck’s husband in The Strange Love of Martha Ivers.
Over the years, Betty and I never lost touch. We even starred together in a film [1950’s Young Man with a Horn] before she went back to New York to achieve the Broadway success I had always longed for. We tried to see each other whenever we were on each other’s home coast, and we shared many special occasions in each other’s lives, including my 50th wedding anniversary celebration in 2004.
Throughout our friendship, I wrote her letters, mostly typed because I have bad handwriting. She always penned her replies, and they were almost illegible—handwriting worse than mine! My latest note wasn’t answered, which was unlike her. I wondered why. Then, on Aug. 12, like the rest of the world, I found out.
It’s hard to lose a friend, especially one with whom you have shared your dreams and your journey. In the case of Betty Bacall, I also lost my lucky charm—the girl who believed in me enough to talk Hal Wallis into giving me a Hollywood career. That was my first lesson in helping others without looking for thanks. I will continue to think about her whenever I put it into practice.
DOUGLAS INTERVIEW REBROADCAST TONIGHT
- Created on Sunday, July 27th, 2014
- Written by KCBSLA.com
Pat Harvey's inteview will be repeated tonight, Sunday, July 27, between 8:30 & 9 PM on KCAL9. The couple recently celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary, and the interview focuses on their enduring romance, their life together, and their many achievements, including their work for charity.
Hollywood Legend Kirk Douglas, His Wife Delve Into Their 60-Year Love Affair
- Created on Saturday, July 26th, 2014
- Written by KCBSLA.com
Please note: The interview is preceded by a commercial.
--July 25, 2014
Correction: The Douglases did meet in Paris but it was during the film ACT OF LOVE rather than LUST FOR LIFE.