Activities

Pushing 100! Kirk Douglas Honored Ahead of Milestone Birthday by Michael Douglas, George Clooney at Hollywood Gala

--People  October 2, 2016

Led by host George Clooney, Hollywood's A-list turned out to celebrate the 95th anniversary of the Motion Picture & Television Fund, the longstanding support system for entertainment industry seniors and industry professionals. But it was an even older showbiz institution who stole the show: soon-to-be-centenarian Kirk Douglas.

Clooney, who with his wife Amal toured the expansive Woodland Hills, California, facility that provides housing, medical care and other assistance programs for aging and ailing members of the show business community earlier in the day, opened the song-and-dance-filled celebration with a nod to both the MPTF and legendary film star Douglas' impressive longevity.

"Wow, 95 years – that's a long time for most of us," said Clooney. "I mean, for Kirk Douglas, not so much. He's not impressed!"

Douglas, who turns 100 on Dec. 9, was on hand for the celebration, sitting stage-side with his wife, Anne, as his son, actor and producer Michael Douglas, took the stage to pay tribute to the couple's renowned charitable generosity.

But first, Michael offered a competitive nod to Clooney.

Noting that his father initially invited him to pen a foreword for his 2012 memoir I Am Spartacus: Making a Film, Breaking the Blacklist, Michael discovered not long after that Kirk had instead chosen someone else: Clooney.

"He replaced me with a younger actor!" exclaimed Michael.

Speaking to attendees who included Robert Downey Jr., Hugh Jackman, Jeremy Renner, Chris Pine, Bryan Cranston, Jane Lynch, Kevin Spacey and Derek Hough, Michael commented on his dad's personal and professional longevity.

"My dad turns 100 years old in a few weeks," he said. "It's an amazing personal century, filled with so many accomplishments and achievements that, if I recounted them all, we'd still be here for Kirk's 105th birthday. My dad is an icon. He's a legend. He's a true movie star from an era when movie stars were looked at as our version of royalty, and Kirk earned that status. Three Oscar nominations, two Golden Globes, over 90 films that spanned seven decades – and not one sequel."

He praised his father's many philanthropic efforts, including donating a surgical robot (nicknamed for his famous film character Spartacus) to the Children's Hospital of Los Angeles, establishing over 400 playground parks for children across Los Angeles, funding minority scholarships at major universities, and donating over $40 million to ambitious programs and centers at the MPTF alone.

A cake made out of strategically tiered cupcakes was brought out as Michael and the audience sang "Happy Birthday" to the screen legend, who took a microphone. And though he still struggled with some speech difficulties – the result of his 1996 stroke – the film icon proved he was still sharp and witty.

He noted that his wife Amal was nearby with some of his old colleagues who were now MPTF residents. "She's over there with some friends that stay here that I worked with 35 years ago, so she's getting the down-low on some old stories!" he said with a laugh.

Other attendees noted their personal connections to MPTF: On stage, Pine revealed his memories of visiting his grandmother, 1940s-era horror film actress and pinup Anne Gwynne, during her twilight years as a resident there, while Cranston shared a warm, hilarious and slightly scandalous story of his mother, actress Audrey Peggy, in her final years at the campus, striking up a passionate – and apparently quite torrid – romance with one of her fellow residents. Spacey, whose mother volunteered there during his youth, recalled caroling there as a child during the holidays and meeting aging stars like The Three Stooges' Larry Fine.

Spacey was among the evening's many performers as well, singing and dancing to Frank Sinatra's "Can I Steal a Little Love?" and Sammy Davis, Jr.'s "Mr. Bojangles." Among the many other one-of-a-kind performances included Jackman singing a medley of songs from "Les Misérables," Derek Hough dancing to tunes from "Singin' In the Rain," Jane Lynch and The Office's" Kate Flannery staging "Mairzy Doats," Johnny Mathis crooning his classic "Misty," and a surprise performance of "You and Me Against the World" by MPTF resident Helen Reddy.

"It's really nice to know that this is here, and it's been 95 years, and let's do 95 more," Lynch told PEOPLE before the event. "I, of course, am thinking I hope it's here for me when I need it."

Warren Beatty to Be Honored with Kirk Douglas Award by Santa Barbara Film Festival

--Variety September 19, 2016

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival has announced thatWarren Beattywill receive the 11th annual Kirk Douglas Award for Excellence in Film this year.


The honor will be presented at a fundraising dinner on Dec. 1, one week after Beatty’s latest film, “Rules Don’t Apply,” hits theaters on Nov. 23. Proceeds are to support SBIFF’s free year-round educational programs.


This year the event coincides with Douglas’ 100th birthday, which is Dec. 9. Previous recipients of the award include Jane Fonda, Jessica Lange, Forest Whitaker, Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Harrison Ford, Quentin Tarantino, Ed Harris, John Travolta and Douglas himself.

“Warren Beatty upholds the highest artistic standards of the film industry,” Douglas said. “His choice of material has entertained us as well as made us think more deeply about the world we live in. I’m delighted he is accepting this recognition of his extraordinary talent.”

Set in 1950s Hollywood, “Rules Don’t Apply” — Beatty’s first film in front of the camera since 2001’s “Town & Country” and his first as director since 1998’s “Bulworth” — follows the budding romance of a young actress (Lily Collins) and businessman (Alden Ehrenreich), which is forbidden by their employer, Howard Hughes (Beatty). It is set to open AFI Fest on Nov. 10.

The 32nd annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival runs Feb. 1-11, 2017.

 

 

 

As Kirk Douglas approaches his 100th birthday, what made him such a distinctive star?

--The Independent August 18, 2016

Champion end

In September and October, the British Film Institute in London will stage a season of films ahead of the great actor’s centenary in December. Geoffrey Macnab looks back on a long and varied career.

It is no surprise that Kirk Douglas (who will be 100 in December) has out-lived almost all his contemporaries. In his greatest roles on screen, the Hollywood star has always played survivors. Whether he was cast as a Hollywood producer down on his luck (The Bad And The Beautiful), an arrogant boxer getting his come-uppance (The Champion), a seedy journalist looking for one last scoop to save his career (Ace In The Hole) or the leader of a slaves’ revolt (Spartacus), his characters have a relentless inner drive. They don’t give up. Look at any still of the dimple-chinned actor, whether in a western, a melodrama or a gangster movie, and his expression is always the same. His brow is furrowed. He is staring defiantly and very fiercely at whatever is in front of him.

Last year, in the movie Trumbo, about blacklisted Hollywood writer Dalton Trumbo, Douglas was portrayed on screen as a young man by Dean O’Gorman. It was a skilled piece of mimicry. O’Gorman looked very like Douglas and had clearly researched his role exhaustively. What O’Gorman lacked, though, was the saturnine ferocity that characterised the Hollywood legend and sometimes made him very frightening on screen.

“I came from abject poverty: there was nowhere to go but up,” Douglas once commented of his transformation from ragman’s son to movie star. It was a statement of intent that he never wavered from. He knew exactly where he was headed. You had the sense he would trample on anyone who got in his way. At the same time, even when he was playing heroic types, he was always keen to show us their darker, more vicious side. Look, for example, at William Wyler’s Detective Story (1951), in which he plays a New York detective called Jim McLeod. He is clean-cut, handsome, popular and deeply in love with his young wife (Eleanor Parker). It’s an overwrought and stagey movie, almost entirely set in the police station, but has some extraordinary scenes late on after the detective discovers his wife once had an abortion. The all-American hero turns into a near psychopath in his rage and disgust at her betrayal. When he talks about the “dirty pictures”, he sees in his mind, we quickly realise the depths of his own self-loathing and capacity for violence. “I’d rather go to jail for 20 years than find out my wife was a tramp!” he yells at his most abject moment.

In interviews, Douglas often talked about being drawn to play dark characters rather than the “nice fella” on the grounds that “virtue is not photogenic”. Even when he is cast as principled and heroic figures – for example, when he played the French officer defending shell-shocked and traumatised soldiers accused of cowardice in Stanley Kubrick’s First World War drama Paths Of Glory (1957) – he brings a seething, restless quality to the role.

Douglas was born as Issur Danielovich in Amsterdam, New York. His parents were immigrants who had fled to the US from Belarus to escape anti-Jewish pogroms. They changed their name to Demsky. (Douglas as a kid was known as Izzy Demsky.) The actor’s biography reads like the typical all-American wish fulfilment fantasy. The ragman’s son who grew up in dire poverty discovered his knack for acting at high school. He took countless menial jobs (including a stint as a carnival wrestler) so that he could afford to get himself into college. From there, he landed a scholarship at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.

His big break came courtesy of fellow student Lauren Bacall who (after she was established in Hollywood herself.) She recommended that producer Hal Wallis check him out. Wallis watched him on Broadway and promptly signed up Douglas to appear opposite Barbara Stanwyck in Lewis Milestone’s film noir The Strange Love Of Martha Ivers (1946). He wasn’t playing the romantic lead. His role was as Stanwyck’s needy, browbeaten, alcoholic husband but that familiar neurotic energy was already in evidence. Douglas very quickly landed eye-catching roles in films such as Out Of The Past and I Walk Alone (the first film in which he appeared on screen with Burt Lancaster). Within a decade, he was established as a big Hollywood star and had won Oscar nominations for Champion, Lust For Life and The Bad And The Beautiful.

As a screen actor, Douglas straddles two different traditions. He arrived in Hollywood when the old-style studio system was in its last throes and appeared opposite very glamorous stars such as Bacall, Linda Darnell, Jane Greer and Ann Sothern. At the same time, he had a febrile, introspective quality which allied him with the new generation of Method actors. In one of his most famous roles, as Van Gogh in Vincente Minnelli’s Lust For Life, he admitted that he “became so immersed in his tortured life that it was hard to pull back”. His wife grumbled that he was so obsessed with the part that he “came home in that big red beard of Van Gogh’s, wearing those big boots, stomping around the house, it was frightening”. Douglas had his own production company. He stood up against the Hollywood anti-communist blacklist by hiring Dalton Trumbo to script Spartacus. He worked with the very best directors of his era, among them Kubrick, Billy Wilder, Howard Hawks, Minnelli, Joseph L Mankiewicz and Elia Kazan.

I once attended a press conference Douglas gave when picking up a lifetime achievement award at the Berlin Film Festival. He seemed very frail. He had survived a helicopter crash that killed two other passengers. He had had a stroke and his speech had been affected. Feelings of pity that anyone might have felt for him were very quickly swept away. Even in late old age, he was as fiery, combative and as witty as ever – and he knew just how to play an audience. His eyes still had that same gimlet-eyed ferocity. Just as at the start of his career, he gave the sense that he knew exactly where he was going and that no one was going to stop him from getting there.

As Kirk Douglas turns 100, a major UCLA retrospective looks at his amazing body of work

--Kenneth Turan Los Angeles Times July 28, 2016

Approaching the Century mark

I recently spent a day with Kirk Douglas, and the experience was exhilarating, energizing and surprising.

This was not time spent with the vital actor himself, who turns 100 on Dec. 9, but rather with a generous sampling of the films still to be shown in the UCLA Film & Television Archive's continuing series "Kirk Douglas: A Centennial Celebration" at the Hammer Museum's Billy Wilder Theater in Westwood.

Seeing a number of Douglas movies one after another both confirms and challenges your preconceptions about the actor.

To be sure, few performers have exuded joy in the physicality of stardom as energetically as Douglas. This was someone who not only lit up the screen but seemed capable of powering the entire theater should the necessity arise.

But immersing yourself in Douglasiana also highlights that this was an actor who had more range than he is always given credit for, an actor who could go from arrogance to despair in a single shot and often took on non-commercial projects simply because they appealed to him.

What finally seems most remarkable about Douglas is his gift for being at the same time defiantly himself and convincingly other people. Just as you would never mistake Douglas for any other actor, neither would you easily confuse one performance with another. His characters, in their yearning, desperation and fury, were always and forever completely individual.

That said, just to amuse myself I was able to place the films I saw into a trio of overlapping categories: the classics, the brawny entertainments and the unexpected ensembles.

Two unmissable classics share the screen this Friday 1949's "Champion" and 1950's "Young Man With a Horn."

A bleak film noir disguised as a boxing picture, "Champion" made Douglas a star and also got him the first of three Oscar nominations. In it, Douglas portrays the tormented fighter Midge Kelly. Directed by Mark Robson and written by Carl Foreman from a story by Ring Lardner, "Champion" unsparingly shows the cost of succeeding in a conniving world where finer feelings do not stand a chance. Even today, Douglas' ability to create almost inhuman fury and raw emotionality on the screen is a shock to experience.

Just as he did his own boxing in "Champion," Douglas learned to play the trumpet so his scenes as an obsessed, Bix Beiderbecke-inspired musician in "Young Man With a Horn" would look convincing. He costars with old pal Lauren Bacall, who helped him break into Hollywood, and Doris Day, whose sophisticated, seductive voice singing "The Very Thought of You" makes a strong impression.

Once he became a major star, Douglas enjoyed turning out heroic entertainments like 1965's "The Heroes of Telemark" (screening Aug. 19), a brooding World War II epic directed by Anthony Mann and evocatively photographed in snowy Norway by Robert Krasker.

Douglas, old enough by then to have to share the hero billing with a younger Richard Harris, stars as a Norwegian scientist who gets involved in a Resistance scheme to sabotage Nazi plans to build an atomic bomb of their own.

Two of Douglas' best remembered brawny features, both directed by Richard Fleischer, came to the screen a decade earlier and share an Aug. 28 double bill.

Released in 1954, "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" was a much-beloved Disney family adventure, indelible for James Mason's evil Captain Nemo and an intense battle with a giant squid. But it also features Douglas as a fun-loving harpooner who gets to lustily sing "A Whale of a Tale."

"The Vikings," made four years later, is equally improbable, though Douglas manages to be convincing as a Norse berserker capable of head-butting a monk and kicking his way through a stained glass window, all in gorgeous Technicolor shot by the great Jack Cardiff.

Enmeshed in a pulp plot that has him vying with his half-brother (played by Tony Curtis, of all people) for the hand of Janet Leigh's Christian princess, Douglas does get off some good lines. "If I can't have your love," he bluntly informs the princess, "I'll take your hate."

But though you might not guess it from these films, Douglas also had a taste for thoughtful, significant films where his presence was essential to success but in the final analysis only one of a number of factors leading to these films becoming classics.

This was especially the case with 1958's "Paths of Glory," directed by Stanley Kubrick and screening on Aug. 27  on a double bill with 1953's "The Juggler," with Douglas as a German concentration camp survivor in the first Hollywood film to be shot in the state of Israel.

Showing in a fine UCLA restoration of Georg Krause's memorable black and white cinematography, "Paths of Glory" features Douglas in one of his most dynamic performances as a French officer in World War I horrified by the conflict's stupendous waste of human life. The film was so unapologetic about the callousness of France's military high command that it was banned in that country for 18 years.

Said to be Douglas' favorite of his dozens of features for its celebration of individualism is 1962's one of a kind "Lonely Are the Brave,"  directed by David Miller from Dalton Trumbo's excellent adaptation of  the Edward Abbey novel.

Screening Aug. 20, it stars Douglas as a contemporary cowboy who unhesitatingly faces off against a modern world intent on fencing him in.

Though Douglas is indisputably the star, he has expert support from costars Walter Matthau and Gena Rowlands as well as cinematographer Philip Lathrop and composer Jerry Goldsmith.

Closing the Douglas celebration on Sept. 30 is 1952's "The Bad and the Beautiful," a film that's one of the best of an always popular breed, the inside-Hollywood melodrama.

Showing in a fine UCLA restoration of Georg Krause's memorable black and white cinematography, "Paths of Glory" features Douglas in one of his most dynamic performances as a French officer in World War I horrified by the conflict's stupendous waste of human life. The film was so unapologetic about the callousness of France's military high command that it was banned in that country for 18 years.

Said to be Douglas' favorite of his dozens of features for its celebration of individualism is 1962's one of a kind "Lonely Are the Brave,"  directed by David Miller from Dalton Trumbo's excellent adaptation of  the Edward Abbey novel.

Screening Aug. 20, it stars Douglas as a contemporary cowboy who unhesitatingly faces off against a modern world intent on fencing him in.

Though Douglas is indisputably the star, he has expert support from costars Walter Matthau and Gena Rowlands as well as cinematographer Philip Lathrop and composer Jerry Goldsmith.

Closing the Douglas celebration on Sept. 30 is 1952's "The Bad and the Beautiful," a film that's one of the best of an always popular breed, the inside-Hollywood melodrama.Showing in a fine UCLA restoration of Georg Krause's memorable black and white cinematography, "Paths of Glory" features Douglas in one of his most dynamic performances as a French officer in World War I horrified by the conflict's stupendous waste of human life. The film was so unapologetic about the callousness of France's military high command that it was banned in that country for 18 years.

Said to be Douglas' favorite of his dozens of features for its celebration of individualism is 1962's one of a kind "Lonely Are the Brave,"  directed by David Miller from Dalton Trumbo's excellent adaptation of  the Edward Abbey novel.

Screening Aug. 20, it stars Douglas as a contemporary cowboy who unhesitatingly faces off against a modern world intent on fencing him in.

Though Douglas is indisputably the star, he has expert support from costars Walter Matthau and Gena Rowlands as well as cinematographer Philip Lathrop and composer Jerry Goldsmith.

Closing the Douglas celebration on Sept. 30 is 1952's "The Bad and the Beautiful," a film that's one of the best of an always popular breed, the inside-Hollywood melodrama.

Showing in a fine UCLA restoration of Georg Krause's memorable black and white cinematography, "Paths of Glory" features Douglas in one of his most dynamic performances as a French officer in World War I horrified by the conflict's stupendous waste of human life. The film was so unapologetic about the callousness of France's military high command that it was banned in that country for 18 years.

Said to be Douglas' favorite of his dozens of features for its celebration of individualism is 1962's one of a kind "Lonely Are the Brave,"  directed by David Miller from Dalton Trumbo's excellent adaptation of  the Edward Abbey novel.

Screening Aug. 20, it stars Douglas as a contemporary cowboy who unhesitatingly faces off against a modern world intent on fencing him in.

Though Douglas is indisputably the star, he has expert support from costars Walter Matthau and Gena Rowlands as well as cinematographer Philip Lathrop and composer Jerry Goldsmith.

 

Closing the Douglas celebration on Sept. 30 is 1952's "The Bad and the Beautiful," a film that's one of the best of an always popular breed, the inside-Hollywood melodrama.

Giving a vigorous but unusually restrained performance under the sure hand of director Vincente Minnelli, Douglas is impeccable as dynamic love-him-or-leave-him producer Jonathan Shields.

Said to be inspired by David O. Selznick, Shields is shown in extensive flashbacks alternately helping and betraying a series of  colleagues, including Lana Turner's actress and Dick Powell's screenwriter. Good at what he does, as charming as he is ruthless, Shields is described as "not a man, he's an experience." Which is not a bad way to sum up the actor who brought Shields and so many others to magnificent life.

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Where: Billy Wilder Theater, Hammer Museum, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood.

Price: $10

Contact: (310) 206-8013, www.cinema.ucla.edu

All screenings at 7:30 except as noted.

Aug. 5: "Champion," "Young Man With a Horn"

Aug. 14 at 7 p.m.: "Posse," "Tough Guys"

Aug. 19: "The Heroes of Telemark"

Aug. 20: "Lonely Are the Brave," "Strangers When We Meet"

Aug. 27: "The Juggler," "Paths of Glory"

Aug. 28 at 7 p.m.: "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea," "The Vikings"

Sept. 11 at 7 p.m.: "The Indian Fighter," "Last Train From Gun Hill"

Sept. 18 at 7 p.m.: "The Strange Love of Martha Ivers,"  "Out of the Past"

Sept. 30: "The Bad and the Beautiful," "Two Weeks in Another Town"

 

 

 

 

 

 

UCLA Archive launches Kirk Douglas Centennial Celebration

"Lust for Life" (1956)

by Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times, July 7, 2016

This is the year when Kirk Douglas, one of Hollywood’s most iconic stars, will celebrate his 100th birthday. To mark the event the UCLA Film & Television Archive has put together a massive series that will run from the beginning of July through the end of September showcasing the range of his films.

The series, screening at the Billy Wilder Theater at the Hammer Museum in Westwood, kicks off this weekend with a trio of Douglas’ best-remembered films, starting Friday at 7:30 p.m., with Douglas playing Vincent van Gogh to Anthony Quinn’s Paul Gauguin in Vincente Minnelli’s rapturous 1956 “Lust For Life.”

That’s followed on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. with a splendid double bill of two 1951 classics. First comes “Ace In The Hole,” directed by Billy Wilder, and starring Douglas as an ambitious reporter (is there any other kind) who is not above exploiting tragedy for his own aims. Also playing is William Wyler’s “Detective Story,” with Douglas as a police detective whose zeal knows no bounds.

For full series schedule: UCLA Film Archive Kirk Douglas Centennial Celebration

 

Kirk and Anne Douglas give $2 million for New York scholarships

--WPTZ.com February 25, 2016

CANTON, N.Y. —Kirk and Anne Douglas will give $2 million to St. Lawrence University to support a scholarship program and residence hall, university officials said Thursday.

One million dollars will be put toward maintaining Kirk Douglas Hall, a housing center holding 155 beds.

A second $1 million gift will go to the Kirk Douglas Scholarship fund.

University officials said the scholarship is awarded to students who are underrepresented on campus and come from low-income backgrounds. Awardees are chosen for leadership, ambition and interest in improving diversity.

“We are immensely grateful for Kirk and Anne's continued commitment to St. Lawrence,” university President William L. Fox said. “This most recent gift will increase access for cohorts of deserving young scholars and enrich the St. Lawrence experience for many more students. ”

Recipients of the scholarship receive a full tuition waiver, including the cost of textbooks, and a guaranteed professional development opportunity. Those opportunities include internships and fellowships.

The couple has donated $7 million to the university since 2012.

Kirk Douglas, 99, is a film icon and author. He graduated from St. Lawrence University with a degree in English and was awarded with an honorary degree. He is the father of actor Michael Douglas.

St. Lawrence University President William L. Fox, and his wife Lynn, provided a photo with Kirk and Anne Douglas.

Kirk Douglas honored on the House floor for his 99th birthday

--Entertainment Weekly December 16, 2015

The iconic actor Kirk Douglas, who celebrated his 99th birthday Dec. 9, was honored on the floor of the House of Representatives on Tuesday.

In a brief address, Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) called Douglas a “great American” and said he had “a long history of charitable giving and philanthropy.” Most recently, Douglas donated $15 million to an Alzheimer’s care facility in Los Angeles.

Cohen also said the recent film Trumbo, about Spartacus screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, enlightened him about Douglas’ role in challenging the Hollywood blacklist in the 1950s.

Kirk Douglas Just Did Something Beautiful For His 99th Birthday

--Huffington Post  December 16, 2015

They say it's better to give than receive, and that's exactly what actor Kirk Douglas did to celebrate his 99th birthday. The Hollywood veteran marked his birthday with a $15 million donation to the Motion Picture and Television Fund to help create a state-of-the-art care facility for Alzheimer's patients.

MPTF says the building will be named the Kirk Douglas Care Pavilion and they plan to begin work on it in 2016. "It is in keeping with Kirk’s philosophy of giving back to the entertainment community that he is the one giving us the gift on his birthday instead of us lavishing one on him," MPTF chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg said in a statement. He added that Douglas and his wife, Anne, are among the largest donors in the history of the foundation with over $40 million in giving.

In 1992, Kirk and Anne Douglas helped fund "Harry's Haven," a special care unit at the Woodland Hills, California campus to care for Alzheimer's and dementia sufferers from the entertainment industry. It was named as a tribute to Douglas' father, Harry.

"When Jeffrey Katzenberg explained the urgency of enlarging the current facility to accommodate more patients, we had to say yes! Jeffrey knows it is our philosophy to provide funding where it is needed most. The Kirk Douglas Care Pavilion is going to help a lot of families in our community," Kirk Douglas said in a statement.

Within the entertainment industry, several people have stepped forward and shared their battle with memory-robbing diseases. Country music legend Glenn Campbell was diagnosed with Alzheimer's four years ago and now lives full-time at a memory care facility. Former president Ronald Reagan announced in 1994 that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, which he battled until his death in 2004.

We wish Kirk many happy returns of the day and can't think of a more beautiful way to celebrate a birthday.

Kirk Douglas Turns 99 With A Party And A $15 Million Birthday Gift

--Deadline Hollywood  December 11, 2015

KD99 Cake-Michael Kirk and Catherine ©2015 Michael JacobsMJP

Kirk Douglas celebrated his 99th birthday on Wednesday at his home in Beverly Hills with wife Anne and  sons Michael, Peter, Joel and daughter-in-law Catherine Zeta-Jones as he held court under a huge banner made of red and white roses that spelled out “99 Today”. On the dining room table was a large rectangular birthday cake. Earlier in the day the legendary star reversed the usual protocol and instead of receiving a gift he decided instead to give one, a BIG one.

With his initial donation of $15 million, the Motion Picture & Television Fund in Woodland Hills announced plans to build a two-story $35 million Alzheimer’s facility to be named the Kirk Douglas Care Pavilion, which will be able to take care of upwards of 80 industry members with that disease.  It is expected to break ground in late 2016.  “It is in keeping with Kirk’s philosophy of giving back to the entertainment  community that he is the one giving us the gift on his birthday instead of us lavishing one on him,” said Jeffrey Katzenberg, chairman of the MPTF Foundation, who adds that with this most recent commitment Kirk and his wife, Anne Douglas are some of the largest donors in the history of MPTF with over $40 million to date. In fact, in 1992 they helped create the Alzheimer’s Unit at MPTF known as Harry’s Haven which was named for Douglas’ father. Harry’s Haven will now become the first floor of the new facility. “When Jeffrey Katzenberg explained the urgency of enlarging the current facility to accommodate more patients, we had to say yes. Jeffrey knows it is our philosophy to provide funding where it is needed most. The Kirk Douglas Care Pavilion is going to help a lot of families in our community,” Douglas said in a statement.

But back to the party. Son Michael made a speech about his dad, remarking how many people want to talk to him about Kirk’s essays in the Huffington Post, his books and their favorite of his films. To which Kirk responded, “My son Michael is here, which just proves if you have enough money, you can have Michael Douglas speak at any event.” Among those stopping by to visit the actor was Katzenberg, who brought along a large 3-dimensional model of the new Kirk Douglas Care Pavilion that sat in the hall tied with a large ribbon. Universal chief Ron Meyer was there, with Douglas asking him how Kirk Douglas Way, the street named after him at U, was doing on the lot. He told Meyer he plans to put a Kosher Deli in as soon as he finds time. Longtime friend Don Rickles came in, made his way straight to Kirk and said, “I’m not staying,” a line that got a big laugh from Douglas. Laugh-In producer George Schlatter was there, already making plans with Anne for what they can do for Kirk’s 100th which takes place on December 9, 2016.

According to my spy on the scene, Kirk slipped out of his party after about an hour without saying goodbye. “All of his good friends and family know that he only likes hellos,” she said.

Coincidentally, Douglas shares the exact same birthday, December 9, as Dalton Trumbo (who would have been 110). Of course, Douglas figures heavily in the new movie Trumbo, since he was instrumental in breaking the Hollywood Blacklist by putting Trumbo’s name as screenwriter on the credits of Spartacus in 1960. All of this is recounted in the film, which ironically led all others on Douglas’ and Trumbo’s shared birthday in the SAG awards nominations Wednesday. It earned three, for Bryan Cranston who plays Trumbo, Helen Mirren who plays Hedda Hopper and for Outstanding Cast (which includes actor Dean O’Gorman who makes an uncanny Douglas). The film also earned a pair of Golden Globe nominations yesterday. Cranston and Trumbo director Jay Roach came by to visit Douglas for drinks and an early celebration on Sunday with a birthday cake.

Kirk Douglas donates $15 million toward new care center in Woodland Hills

--Los Angeles Daily News December 10, 2015

A $35 million care center to be named after screen legend Kirk Douglas will be built at the Motion Picture Television Fund campus in Woodland Hills to help Hollywood industry members struggling with Alzheimer’s disease, officials announced Wednesday.

Construction on the two story Kirk Douglas Care Pavilion will begin next year and will include a garden for 80 industry members struggling with Alzheimer’s as well as those with long-term skilled nursing care needs.

Douglas, who turned 99 on Wednesday, and his wife have donated $15 million toward the project.

“We are grateful to Kirk and Anne for making this leadership gift of $15 million,” said Jeffrey Katzenberg, Chairman of the MPTF Foundation in a statement. “It will kick the design and planning of this incredible new facility into high gear.”

Douglas wanted to formally donate the funds on his birthday, Katzenberg said.

“With their recent commitment to MPTF, Kirk and Anne Douglas are some of the largest donors in the history of MPTF giving, with over $40 million of lifetime philanthropy,” Katzenberg said. “We will never be able to thank them enough for all that they have done.”

The pavilion will allow the Motion Picture Television Fund to expand its services and will house Harry’s Haven, an Alzheimer’s unit that was created by the Douglas family in 1992.

“Kirk was visionary when in 1992 he recognized the implications of dealing with Alzheimer’s not only for those directly impacted but for their family members as well,” Bob Beitcher, MPTF President and CEO, said in a statement. “MPTF is honored to be a part of the legacy of caring for our own that Kirk Douglas embodies by his words and his actions.”

The nonprofit Motion Picture & Television Fund was founded in 1921 by movie pioneers Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and D.W. Griffith. The intention was to provide services to members and family within the film industry. The group has operated several outpatient health centers throughout greater Los Angeles, a children’s center, a retirement community and health plans.

In a statement, Douglas said he and his wife Anne created Harry’s Haven because they wanted to help families in the entertainment community struggling to care for their loved ones with Alzheimer’s.

“What MPTF has done at Harry’s Haven over the past 25 years never ceases to amaze me,” Douglas said in the statement. “We wanted visitors as well as patients to experience a warm and loving environment, and MPTF has fulfilled our wishes admirably.

“When Jeffrey Katzenberg explained the urgency of enlarging the current facility to accommodate more patients, we had to say yes! Jeffrey knows it is our philosophy to provide funding where it is needed most. The Kirk Douglas Care Pavilion is going to help a lot of families in our community.”