Kirk Douglas' 102nd birthday celebrated with historic plaque
- Created on Tuesday, 11 December 2018
- Written by Jason Subic
--The Daily Gazette December 9, 2018
AMSTERDAM, NEW YORK -- Kirk Douglas, Amsterdam's most famous native son, turned 102 years old on Sunday, and the city celebrated by unveiling a historic plaque marking the house where he grew up.
Fans, Amsterdam history buffs and a few family members of the big screen legend gathered at the corner of Eagle and East Main streets, where the historic marker will be placed, once a pole is made available for it. Robert von Hasseln, president of the Historic Amsterdam League (HAL), acted as master of ceremonies for the unveiling of the plaque. Douglas was born Dec. 9, 1916 ,to immigrant parents living at 46 Eagle St., which still stands as the last house on a dead end street, and he rose from poverty to appear in over 90 films in Hollywood.
"Couldn't it have his real name on there too?" asked one of the people gathered for the event, referencing Douglas' birth name, Issur Danielovitch, which he changed when he became an actor.
Von Hasseln said unfortunately there were a limited number of words that could fit on the plaque. He praised HAL members Dan Weaver and Jacqueline Murphy, the former Montgomery County historian, for securing the money for the historic marker from the William C. Pomeroy Foundation.
Weaver said he was glad the plaque included the phrase "rose from poverty" to show that Douglas achieved success without government assistance.
Murphy, in honor of Sunday being the last day of Hanukkah, gave a short speech in which she placed Douglas' success within the context of the many immigrant Jewish families that started many businesses, including the Amsterdam Print Co., Holzheimer and Shaul, Sochin's clothing and haberdashery and businesses started by Jewish families like the Guttenbergs and Galinskis.
"Many of the Jewish immigrants started out as peddlers, but then became very prominent merchants in the community," she said.
At the corner of the plaque is the number 477, indicating the Douglas marker as the 477th official New York state historic plaque paid for by that foundation.
Von Hasseln said when he was researching what to say for the event he realized he couldn't possibly do justice to Douglas' long career. He said Douglas' dream of becoming an actor was too big for him to stay in Amsterdam, but he has continued to touch the city of his youth in significant ways. He said Douglas' given name is still scratched behind the stage at Wilbur H. Lynch Middle School. He also contributed, without realizing it, to Von Hasseln's decision to join the military after he watched "Seven Days in May" a movie in which Douglas' character helped thwart a military coup of the U.S. government.
"The last thing you see at the end of that movie is the Constitution of the United States, and that's when I realized I wanted to serve and protect the Constitution, and it had later ramifications for the city of Amsterdam, because some years ago when we were designing the Amsterdam Veterans Memorial, and we were lined up to once again spend tens of thousands of dollars on another cookie cutter memorial, with seals, dates, names of the services, and I said to myself 'Let's go deeper,' " Von Hasseln said. "What's the one thing that separates veterans from every civilian? And all of a sudden in my head I saw the last frame of 'Seven Days in May,' and that's why the only thing that's on the Amsterdam Veterans Memorial is the oath of office."
Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, D-Rotterdam, spoke at the event. He said Douglas is a great example of the many talented people who've gotten their start in Amsterdam.
"Happy birthday to Kirk Douglas and congratulations to his family members," Santabarbara said.
On hand Sunday were Douglas' oldest living nephew, Fred Simon, and his oldest niece, Marilyn Gordon, whose mother Ida Sahr is Douglas' only living sibling. She will turn 100 on Feb. 24. Gordon said her mother was able to Facetime Kirk Douglas Saturday and sing happy birthday to him.
"In addition, I told him about the historic marker that was going to be put up at the corner of East Main and Eagle street where he grew up. He was very touched and appreciative of this dedication and asked me to thank the Historic Amsterdam League," she said.
Amsterdam group honoring Kirk Douglas, who turns 102 today
- Created on Monday, 10 December 2018
- Written by Bill Buell
--The Daily Gazette December 9, 2018
Kirk Douglas is going to spend part of his 102nd birthday Sunday talking to his 99-year-old sister in Schenectady.
Ida Sahr, the younger sister of the iconic movie star, will be sending her brother birthday wishes via FaceTime, according to Marilyn Gordon, Douglas's niece and Sahr's daughter. A native of Amsterdam, as is her brother, Sahr has lived in Schenectady for more than 50 years.
"We have it all set up, and we've been doing this for a while," said Gordon, a Glenville resident who flew out to California two years ago to help celebrate her uncle's 100th birthday. "They look at each other and talk, and she sings him happy birthday."
"If things go right I'll be heading over there with my cousin," Gordon said, referring to Sunday's ceremony in Amsterdam. "That's where they lived when they grew up."
Douglas was born Issur Danielovitch on Dec. 9, 1916, the son of Russian Jews who had earlier emigrated to the U.S. Herschel Danielovtich, his father, had arrived in 1908 from Belarus, and Douglas's mother, Bryna, came two years later in 1908.
Douglas was the lone boy in a family of six siblings. All are deceased except for him and Sahr. Douglas penned his autobiography in 1988 and named the book, "The Ragman's Son."
Known as Izzy Demsky when he was growing up, Douglas was a good student and after graduating from Wilbur H. Lynch High School in Amsterdam in 1935, he went to St. Lawrence University where he became president of the student body, a member of the Dramatic Society and a standout on the college's wrestling team.
Douglas graduated from St. Lawrence in 1939, his acting talent helping him land a scholarship to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City. His promising acting career, he had already been on Broadway, was interrupted by World War II as Douglas spent much of 1943 and 1944 on an anti-submarine craft in the Pacific Theater. He was medically discharged in 1944 after being injured when a depth charge failed to work correctly.
After the war, Douglas headed to Hollywood and got his first big break with the help of fellow actor Lauren Bacall. Urged by Bacall, Douglas got the lead role in "The Strange Loves of Martha Ivers," and his film career took off.
He earned his first Oscar nomination in 1949 for "Champion," and remained a huge box office star for nearly the next four decades. He made his final public visit to upstate New York when he visited Amsterdam and his sister in Schenectady in 1985.
The marker being put up Sunday was funded by a grant from the William G. Pomeroy Foundation.
"We are so happy to be allied with the Pomeroy Foundation on this project," said Rob von Hasseln, president of the Historic Amsterdam League. "Their demands for accuracy and significance are rigorous and we feel validated that we passed the test."
Gordon said she has been in touch with Douglas's family recently.
"He has his limitations, but he's doing pretty well, just like my mother," said Gordon. "We're doing the best we can, and while it's unfortunate that neither one can travel anymore, they still do stay in touch. He's going to celebrate with his family, and we'll do the same here. We're also going to celebrate on Feb. 24 when Ida turns 100."
Sunday at 2 p.m., the Historic Amsterdam League will have its own celebration of Douglas's birthday when it puts up a historic marker at the corner of East Main and Eagle Street in Amsterdam where Douglas grew up.
Michael Douglas Tears Up Over Dad Kirk, 101, at Walk of Fame Ceremony: 'So Proud to Be Your Son'
- Created on Thursday, 08 November 2018
- Written by Scott Huver
--People November 6, 2018
Michael Douglas joined Hollywood royalty with his proud dad Kirk Douglas closely watching.
Michael was inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Tuesday with his very own star after almost 50 years in the industry. The moment was made more special by the presence of his 101-year-old dad and legendary actor Kirk Douglas, who also has his own star on the Walk of Fame.
Michael, 74, thanked his dad for attending his ceremony and grew emotional while speaking about him.
“It means so much to me, Dad, that you’re here today,” he said tearing up. “Thank you for your advice, inspiration, and I’ll say it simply and with all my heart: I’m so proud to be your son.”
Also along for the honor was Michael’s wife of 18 years Catherine Zeta-Jones, who excitedly posted several videos on her Instagram before the big moment.
“We’re in the car, and someone is getting a Hollywood star on the Walk of Fame, and that is my hubby, Michael Douglas,” the proud wife says in the adorable video as a quiet Michael smiles and points at himself.
The actress, 49, also shared a sweet video of Kirk and Michael arriving at the ceremony, with Kirk smiling wide as Michael stands close to his dad.
The family has had reason to celebrate lately. Aside from Kirk nearing his 102nd birthday next month, Michael also welcomed his first grandchild last year when his oldest son Cameron had daughter Lua Izzy with girlfriend Viviene Thibes. Cameron, 39, also attended his dad’s ceremony and posted a sweet video on his Instagram story where he wrote, “Congrats dad!”
Also on hand to witness the ceremony was Eric McCormack (Douglas introduced the Will and Grace star when the latter recently received his own star on the Walk of Fame), Douglas’ Black Rain costar Andy Garcia and Ant-Man director Peyton Reed.
Douglas was last seen in the summer blockbuster, Ant-Man and the Wasp. His new Netflix series The Kominsky Method begins streaming Nov. 16.
Joachim Ronneberg, saboteur who crippled Nazi atomic bomb project, dies at 99
- Created on Tuesday, 23 October 2018
- Written by Harrison Smith
--Washington Post October 22, 2018
The plan was audacious, requiring a midnight parachute jump onto a snow-covered mountain plateau, cross-country skiing in subzero temperatures, and an assault on an isolated, heavily guarded power plant in southern Norway.
And the stakes, though no one in the five-man commando team knew it at the time, were spectacular: destroy the Nazis’ sole source of heavy water, a recently discovered substance that Hitler’s scientists were using to try to develop an atomic bomb, or risk the creation of a superweapon that could secure a German victory in World War II.
“We didn’t think about whether it was dangerous or not,” Joachim Ronneberg, the 23-year-old Norwegian resistance fighter charged with leading the mission, later told Britain’s Telegraph newspaper. “We didn’t think about our retreat. The most important decision you made during the whole war was the day you decided to leave Norway to report for duty. You concentrated on the job and not on the risks.”
Mr. Ronneberg went on to land a crippling blow against Nazi Germany’s atomic ambitions, blowing up much of the plant and destroying its heavy-water stockpile without firing a shot or losing a man. He was 99, and the last of Norway’s celebrated heavy-water saboteurs, when he died Oct. 21, according to the state-owned broadcaster NRK, which confirmed the death but did not provide additional details.
“Ronneberg is one of the great heroes of Norwegian war history,” Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg told the media company after his death. In 2015, British military historian M.R.D. Foot told the New York Times that Mr. Ronneberg’s mission “changed the course of the war” and deserved the “gratitude of humanity.”
While historians have argued over how close the Nazis came to developing an atomic bomb, and over what prevented them from succeeding, German officials at the time seemed to agree that Mr. Ronneberg’s actions were pivotal. After visiting the damaged heavy-water plant, Nikolaus von Falkenhorst, the Nazi general overseeing occupied Norway, was said to have declared, “This is the most splendid coup I have seen in this war.”
Yet even as Mr. Ronneberg’s exploits were chronicled in books, television series and movies such as “The Heroes of Telemark,” a popular 1965 film starring Kirk Douglas and Richard Harris, Mr. Ronneberg resisted being glorified as a war hero. “There were so many things that were just luck and chance,” he told the Times. “There was no plan. We were just hoping for the best.”
Raised by a prominent Norwegian family in the port town of Alesund, he was born Joachim Holmboe Ronneberg on Aug. 30, 1919, and was working for a fish export company when Germany invaded in April 1940. With a few friends, he fled to Britain aboard a fishing boat and linked up with the Special Operation Executive, a wartime espionage unit that Winston Churchill dubbed his “Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare.”
Mr. Ronneberg studied the dark arts of sabotage, including how to lay a bomb, fire a weapon and kill a man with his bare hands, before serving as an instructor for recruits in Norwegian Independent Company 1, an SOE unit sometimes known as Kompani Linge.
His rise through the organization occurred as Allied forces received reports that the Nazis were increasing cold-water production at Vemork, an industrial facility and hydroelectric power plant — once the world’s largest — built by Norsk Hydro in the Telemark region of southern Norway.
The plant was already the world’s leading commercial supplier of heavy water, a moderator, or medium, that German scientists were using to try to produce weapons-grade plutonium for an atomic bomb. It proved less effective than graphite, which their American rivals working on the Manhattan Project used to create the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.
By the time Mr. Ronneberg was enlisted to lead Operation Gunnerside, the mission to destroy the plant, 41 men had already died in a November 1942 raid dubbed Operation Freshman, in which a pair of gliders crashed in bad weather in Norway. The survivors were executed by the Nazis.
Rather than risk another glider mishap, Mr. Ronneberg and the four commandos he selected for the mission parachuted into Norway in February 1943. They landed in the wrong location, but waited out a snowstorm inside a cabin and met up with four local fighters in Hardangervidda, a desolate plateau northwest of the plant.
The group reached Vemork the night of Feb. 27, after scrambling down a steep gorge, crossing a frozen river and climbing up the far side to avoid a bridge guarded by the Nazis. Timing his infiltration of the plant to match a changing of the guard, Mr. Ronneberg said he was able to gain entry undetected, quickly and quietly breaking through a chain on the gate, only with help from a pair of heavy-duty metal cutters. He had purchased them in Britain “entirely by chance,” he said, after walking by a hardware store during a trip to the movies.
Drawing on intelligence from a Norwegian escapee who had worked at the plant, Mr. Ronneberg crawled through a ventilation duct and found his target — a row of pipes — without understanding its significance as a source for a mysterious new weapon in Germany.
The charges, he later said, “fitted like a hand in a glove,” and in a last-minute change he trimmed the fuse, causing the explosion to go off in about 30 seconds, rather than two minutes, so that he and his team could ensure it went off — and, he hoped, escape the facility without being caught in the explosion.
“It was a mackerel sky. It was a marvelous sunrise,” Mr. Ronneberg later told the Telegraph, recalling the moment hours later when he and his team had returned to the mountains, safely out of reach of Nazi guards. “We sat there very tired, very happy. Nobody said anything. That was a very special moment.”
Mr. Ronneberg and his fellow commandos skied 200 miles across southern Norway, escaping into neutral Sweden before returning to Britain.
He went on to lead Operation Fieldfare, an effort to break German supply lines in Norway by damaging bridges and railroads, and Allied forces continued to monitor Vemork. The plant was repaired after several months, leading U.S. planes to bomb the heavy-water factory later in 1943.
When the Nazis decided to move their supply of heavy water to Germany in 1944, one of Mr. Ronneberg’s fellow commandos, Knut Haukelid, led a successful operation to sink the Hydro, a Norwegian ferry carrying the substance, while it was traveling across Lake Tinn.
Mr. Ronneberg received Norway’s highest military honor, the War Cross With Sword, and was awarded the Distinguished Service Order in Britain. He returned to his hometown of Alesund after the war, and worked as an editor at NRK before retiring in 1987, according to the broadcasting company.
He married Liv Foldal in 1949. A complete list of survivors was not immediately available.
Mr. Ronneberg began speaking about his experiences as a resistance fighter only in recent years. His story, he told the Telegraph, had lessons for politicians and ordinary civilians even today. “A few years ago,” he said, “I realized that I am part of history. Having been more or less silent for years, now I realize it is important and quite natural for people to ask about the past so they can plan for the future. People must realize that peace and freedom have to be fought for every day.”
Hugh Jackman To Receive Santa Barbara Film Festival’s Kirk Douglas Award For Excellence In Film
- Created on Thursday, 04 October 2018
- Written by Pete Hammond
--Deadline Hollywood October 1, 2018
Hugh Jackman will be the recipient of this year’s Kirk Douglas Award For Excellence In Film, presented for the 13th year by the Santa Barbara Film Festival. The black-tie awards gala will be held November 19 at the Ritz Carlton Bacara hotel.
Jackman, riding high off the global box office success of 2017’s surprise hit musical The Greatest Showman, has won acclaim for his latest film The Front Runner. He plays U.S. Sen. Gary Hart, whose 1988 Presidential campaign was derailed by a sex scandal.
The film, directed by Jason Reitman, premiered at the Telluride and Toronto film festivals early last month and won high praise, particularly for Jackman’s performance which is being heavily Oscar-buzzed. Sony Pictures will open the movie, appropriately, on election day November 6 before going wide later in the month.
Since 2006, the annual Kirk Douglas Award has been given to a lifelong contributor to cinema through their work in front of the camera, behind, or both. Past honorees include Judi Dench, Warren Beatty, Jane Fonda, Jessica Lange, Forest Whitaker, Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Harrison Ford, Quentin Tarantino, Ed Harris and John Travolta.
“I am delighted that Hugh Jackman will receive the 13th annual Kirk Douglas Award. He’s an exceptional talent of stage and screen, and one of the nicest people in the business. It’s my honor to have my name linked with his on this year’s award,” Kirk Douglas said.
The 34th annual Santa Barbara Film Festival is set to run January 30-February 9.
Kirk Douglas Spartacus actor, 101, in heartwarming moment with great-granddaughter
- Created on Friday, 31 August 2018
- Written by Samantha Masters
--Express.co.uk August 29, 2018
The 101-year-old former actor was captured admiring baby Lua Izzy, the daughter to his grandson Cameron Douglas, 39.
Baby Lua was seen holding her arms out to the Spartacus actor who smiled proudly.
The father of Michael Douglas, 73, dressed in casual attire and hid behind sunglasses as he sat on a chair.
Admiring the moment, Cameron took to his Instagram to upload the adorable snap.
In view of his 11,000 followers, he simply captioned the picture: “LOVE.”
Many of his social media fans flocked to his page to comment on the cute offering.
One user commented: “Beautiful. This is life.”
Another added: “That’s an amazing treasure,” another penned: “That is a gorgeous photo!”
Back in January, Kirk proudly cradled his great-granddaughter as Cameron sat alongside him.
Cameron shared the picture with the caption: “Words cannot express. #Powerful #Bloodline.”(sic)
Earlier this month, Kirk was pictured being helped by two nurses during a rare sighting in Los Angeles.
Kirk was seen receiving help assistance from two staff members before he settled down in a wheelchair.
His appearance comes shortly after Michael revealed an interesting fact about his father’s approach to life.
Speaking to Lorraine Kelly on her self-titled show, he said: “He still has a trainer. He works out with a trainer at 101.”
Recalling a memory of his father, he continued: “I remember when dad was 90 and he had a guy that he worked out with for 30 years, Mike.
“So I went to see dad one day and I go, ‘Dad, what’s wrong? You don’t look good.’
“He said, ‘Mike died.’ ‘Oh dad, I’m so sorry. Mike died… how old was Mike?’” he continued.
“He said, '94.’ So his trainer was 94-years-old when he was 90.”
Aside from Michael, Kirk also has three other sons Joel, Eric and Peter.
He has tied the knot twice in his lifetime and has been married to Anne Buydens, 99, since 1954.
AFI Names Taryn Proscal As Inaugural Recipient Of Kirk Douglas Fellowship
- Created on Wednesday, 15 August 2018
- Written by Dino-Ray Ramos
--Deadline Hollywood August 8, 2018
The American Film Institute announced today that AFI Conservatory Screenwriting Fellow Taryn Procsal will be the first recipient of the Kirk Douglas Fellowship.
Proscal, a single mother of three, was recognized for her unique voice and will receive a full-tuition two-year scholarship. The inaugural Kirk Douglas Fellowship is awarded to an AFI Conservatory Fellow and Proscal is set to enter the Conservatory in the fall as one of a full-class of 140 first-year Fellows.
“I am honored and pleased to have Taryn Procsal receive the first Kirk Douglas Fellowship,” said Kirk Douglas in a statement.
As an AFI Conservatory screenwriter, Proscal joins a prestigious list of talent including Sam Esmail (Mr. Robot), Liz Hannah (The Post), Brad Falchuk (American Crime Story, American Horror Story), Scott Frank (Out of Sight, Logan), Susannah Grant (Erin Brockovich) and LaToya Morgan (Shameless, Parenthood).
Douglas, an AFI Life Achievement Award honoree, is known for championing screenwriters and film in his 70-year career. In 1960, Douglas hired blacklisted writer Dalton Trumbo to pen Spartacus (which Douglas starred) and gave him full credit on the film. This eventually led to the end of the Hollywood blacklist. Trumbo was depicted by Bryan Cranston in the 2015 Jay Roach film Trumbo which documented the screenwriter’s life and the blacklist. Douglas was portrayed by Dean O’Gorman.
HAL RECEIVES GRANT TO INSTALL MARKER HONORING KIRK DOUGLAS
- Created on Saturday, 05 May 2018
- Written by Recorder News
--The Recorder April 22, 2018
The William G. Pomeroy Foundation of Syracuse, N.Y., has awarded the Historic Amsterdam League a grant for $1,060 to install a historic marker honoring Kirk Douglas, in Amsterdam’s east end. The gold text on the marker’s blue background will read:
FILM LEGEND BORN DEC. 9, 1916
TO IMMIGRANT PARENTS LIVING
AT 46 EAGLE ST. ROSE FROM
POVERTY TO MAKE OVER
90 FILMS IN HOLLYWOOD.
WILLIAM G. POMEROY FOUNDATION 2018”
Dan Weaver, president of HAL, with the assistance of HAL trustee, Jackie Murphy, applied for the grant.
“It was important to honor Kirk Douglas while he was still alive,” Weaver said.
Douglas turned 101 in December 2017 and appeared alongside his daughter-in-law Catherine Zeta Jones at the Golden Globe Awards in January 2018 to a standing ovation.
“We decided to place the marker in front of the Creative Connections Club House on East Main Street, near Eagle Street, rather than on Eagle Street,” Weaver said. “The marker will be more visible on Main Street and hopefully will serve as an inspiration to the young people who attend the club.”
Douglas, born Issur Danielovitch, attended the old Fourth Ward School, which was located behind Creative Connections.
Douglas is one of the few remaining icons from Hollywood’s Golden Era. He starred in “Champion,” “Lonely are the Brave,” “Detective Story,” “Paths of Glory,” “Lust for Life,” “Spartacus” and many other memorable films.
No date for the installation and unveiling of the marker has been set, although hopefully it will be erected before the end of the summer. This is the second marker HAL has placed in the city. The first marker was installed at Shuttleworth Park in 2014.
Javier Bardem to Star in ‘Cortes’ Miniseries from Steven Spielberg and Amazon
- Created on Sunday, 01 April 2018
- Written by Hoai-Tran Bui
--slashfilm.com March 27, 2018
Nobody expects a Spanish conquistador miniseries.
But a miniseries about the legendary Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés developed by Steven Spielberg will soon be sailing to a small screen near you. Amazon has greenlit a Cortes miniseries and tapped Oscar-winning actor Javier Bardem to play the titular conquistador.
Amazon Studios has made a straight-to-series order for the four-hour Cortes miniseries from Amblin Television and Steven Spielberg, The Tracking Board reports based on an initial report from Deadline.
Created and written by Steven Zaillian (Schindler’s List), the Cortes miniseries will follow Hernán Cortes as he leads a “rebellious expedition” to King Montezuma II’s Aztec empire. Cortes was famous for bringing about the fall of the Aztec Empire and leading the first phase of the colonization of the Americas by Spanish conquistadors.
Sharon Yguado, Amazon’s head of scripted series, praised the A-list team behind the project, which Spielberg initially began developing as a potential feature film. Yguado said:
“Cortés’ epic discoveries shaped the world as we know it today, and through the minds of Amblin, Steven Spielberg, Steve Zaillian and Javier Bardem, we will bring Prime Video members on an exhilarating journey. There are few moments in history that shape an entire culture such as Cortés’ story, and this series will be one filled with drama and adventure.”
The project is based off a long-gestating script by the late Dalton Trumbo. Trumbo originally wrote the script (then known as Montezuma) in the 1960s, a decade after he was blacklisted as part of the Hollywood Ten at the height of McCarthyism paranoia. Montezuma explored the relationship between Cortes and the Aztec emperor Montezuma and was originally planned as reunion between Trumbo and his Spartacus star Kirk Douglas.
Spielberg revived the project in 2014 at DreamWorks with the intention to direct a script by Zaillian. Bardem was also his first choice to star. Now, Bardem will executive produce the series alongside Amblin TV’s Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey. Bardem said of the miniseries announcement:
“It is a privilege to tell this epic story— one that is full of drama and conflict within this huge, historical spectacle where two distant civilizations clash at the height of their reign. The best and worst of human nature came to life in all its light and darkness. As an actor, there is no better challenge than to serve such a unique project that I have been passionate about for years.
Bardem’s casting finally brings the long stalled project back to life. An immensely talented and acclaimed star, Bardem lends the series even more credence, allowing Amazon to throw its full-fledged support behind it.
Hero on the big screen–and in real life
- Created on Tuesday, 13 February 2018
- Written by Nestor U. Torre
--Phillipine Daily Enquirer February 13, 2018
Aside from the recent Golden Globe awards rites’ focus on female empowerment and anti-exploitation campaigns, one of its most attention-calling and inspiring moments was the appearance of the iconic action-drama star, Kirk Douglas. What made his participation memorable was his advanced age—101 years old!
Very few other entertainment luminaries (George Burns was one of them) have attained centenarian status, so Douglas’ feat itself is worth celebrating.
But, what makes it even more remarkable is the fact that, some years ago, he had a medical crisis that placed his survival in serious doubt—and robbed him of his normal speaking voice.
At the Golden Globes, it was heartening to see that the
“unsinkable” star could speak again, if only weakly. With the help and “interpretative” gift of his daughter-in-law, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Douglas was able to communicate his best wishes to his younger colleagues and to millions of home viewers.
The seniors among them recalled Douglas’ halcyon days as a true-blue Hollywood sensation, starring in some memorable movies, like “Spartacus,” “Lonely are the Brave” and “Inherit the Wind.”
Douglas even portrayed the famously idiosyncratic artist, Vincent van Gogh, in a live-action bio film, predating last year’s “Loving Vincent” by many decades.
But, one of his most appreciated achievements in his long career was the key role he played in fighting film censorship in American movies.
An industry-wide, anticommunist witch hunt in the 1950s, prevented some gifted film artists from finding employment—but, Douglas was one of the few actor-producers who dared to counter the curtailment of artistic freedom.
He secretly got the gifted screenwriter, Dalton Trumbo, to write some screenplays for him, thus saving him from dire penury. And, years later, he even got the industry to officially acknowledge and honor Trumbo’s once-verboten authorship.
It takes guts to do what’s forbidden, but Douglas was an authentically brave man, not just in his onscreen exploits, but also in real life.
So, at 101 (and counting), he’s emerged as a true-blue hero in Hollywood, exceptional and honored not just for his ability to survive, but also to continue to excel and inspire!