Activities

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.”

Kirk Douglas Turns 99! See Son Michael Douglas's Sweet Facebook Post

--People  December 9, 2015

Storied film actor Kirk Douglas celebrated his 99th birthday on Wednesday, and he marked the occasion with sweet well-wishes from his son.

Michael Douglas shared a red carpet photo with the legendary Spartacus star on Facebook in honor of his father's big day.

In the image, Michael, 71, gives his father a sweet forehead kiss.

"Happy 99th Birthday Dad," Michael wrote. "I love you."

Michael has previously praised his father's illustrious career, while thanking him for letting him forge his own path in the industry.

Although Kirk has clearly lived a long life, the Honorary Academy Award winner recently told PEOPLE about how he nearly was a passenger on Elizabeth Taylor's husband's private plane, which crashed and killed everyone aboard in 1958.

The actor's longtime wife, Anne Buydens, wouldn't let Kirk join on the plane ride – and thankfully so, as the Lucky Liz suffered engine failure,

"Why was I spared? I was so grateful," Kirk told PEOPLE. "My wife has saved my life many times."

Kirk Douglas Reviews 'Trumbo'

--USA Today   November 20, 2015

Bryan Cranston, left, is Dalton Trumbo and Dean O'Gorman

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — How odd to watch history replayed on the big screen when it's your own.

That's where Kirk Douglas, 98, found himself when recently viewing Trumbo (in select theaters; opens nationwide Nov. 25), a new biopic of Academy Award-winning screenwriter Dalton Trumbo (played by Bryan Cranston), who was forced to work under a pen name for more than a decade during the McCarthy years when he, along with hundreds of others, was blacklisted as a communist sympathizer.

Douglas' Spartacus plays a key role in the film: It was the first major movie to break the blacklist by putting Trumbo's real name back on the big screen in the credits in 1960. (Exodus, also written by Trumbo, followed suit shortly after.)

Douglas sits in a cardigan and slacks in his sun-drenched living room. "You know, I did a lot of movies with Dalton," he says in good spirits though he speaks slowly (his speech has been impaired since a stroke at age 80). "They were all good." (His favorite is 1962's Lonely Are the Brave.)

An original copy of Trumbo's National Book Award-winning Johnny Got His Gun has been pulled from Douglas' shelf. The author sent it to Douglas as a token of gratitude after the actor pledged to use Trumbo's real name on Spartacus.

The June 1959 inscription reads:

"Dear Kirk,

Here, for what it is and for what I hope I still am, is the only existing copy of this book that's signed with the name to which I was born — and that other name you've enabled me to acquire under circumstances that blessedly permit me to respect and cherish both the new name and the new friend who made it possible.

Affectionately, Sam Jackson/Dalton Trumbo."

In Trumbo, Dean O'Gorman (a startling Douglas lookalike) plays the screen legend. O'Gorman wrote Douglas a letter last September seeking advice.

Douglas' shares his response to the 38-year-old actor seen in The Hobbit franchise (as the dwarf Fili).

It's amusingly spare. "Playing Kirk Douglas, forget him ... just play the part and you will be fine," he wrote.

In his book I Am Spartacus! Making A Film, Breaking the Blacklist, Douglas details how he waited for a majority of the film to be shot as leverage to push Universal to allow Dalton's real name on screen.

"What I never understood, you know, a guy should be able to write something and be paid," Douglas says, pointing out that even President Kennedy supported Spartacus by crossing picket lines to see it.

In the book, Douglas wrote, "When I hired Dalton Trumbo to write Spartacus under the pseudonym Sam Jackson, we all had been employing the blacklisted writers. It was an open secret and an act of hypocrisy, as well as a way to get the best talent at bargain prices. I hated being part of such a system."

Douglas describes Trumbo as an egoless writer who wasn't precious about his work. And Trumbo was fast. "Dalton Trumbo, if you told him, 'I don't like that scene' — 'You don't like it?' " (Douglas mimics the screenwriter crumpling up a paper and tossing it.)

Trumbo's many eccentricities are displayed in the film, aided by Cranston's portrayal, which Douglas praises. "Trumbo was a strange guy," says Douglas, happy that a parrot (nicknamed Sammy) he gifted the writer made the film.

The bird, Douglas recalls, used to sit on Trumbo's shoulder while he worked in the tub, where the prolific writer often held meetings. "He was a nut," Douglas says.

Douglas' overall impression of Trumbo? "It's a very good film," he says, "and its spirit is true to the man I admired."

A centennial year of celebration is in store for the three-time best actor nominee. "I'm going to be 99 years old (on Dec. 9). I don't like it," says Douglas who is working on a new book of letters from his life.

How does he feel? Douglas smiles and squints. "I think I'll make another picture."

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Trumbo’ gets Kirk Douglas’ stamp of approval

--pagesix.com  November 5, 2015

‘Trumbo’ gets Kirk Douglas’ stamp of approval

Bryan Cranston personally delivered a copy of his new film “Trumbo” — in which he stars as the titular blacklisted screenwriter — to show Kirk Douglas, 98, at the icon’s home.

Years ago, Douglas hired Dalton Trumbo to pen his 1960 hit “Spartacus” after Trumbo was banned from Hollywood for a decade and wrote a 1956 Oscar-winner, “The Brave One,” under a pseudonym.

“Cranston brought the film to Kirk’s house,” said a source. “They started at 3 p.m., took a break for dinner, then watched the rest. Kirk loved it. He gave Bryan a big hug, but wondered why [director] Jay Roach didn’t cast him to play himself.”

Michael Douglas has been telling pals that when his dad hits 99 next month, they’ll start a yearlong centennial celebration.

'Trumbo's' Dean O'Gorman plays Kirk Douglas and earns praise from the legend

--Los Angeles Times  October 30, 2015

Dean O'Gorman

When Dean O'Gorman was cast in the plum role of Kirk Douglas in "Trumbo," the new biopic about blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, he decided to ask the legendary actor if he wouldn't mind offering up a few tips on how to play him.

"I wrote him a letter," said O'Gorman, 38, by phone from his home outside of Auckland, New Zealand.

And Douglas, now 98, wrote him back. "He was very nice," said O'Gorman, best known as the dwarf Fili in Peter Jackson's "The Hobbit" trilogy. "He said, 'Don't worry about being me too much, just play the role, play the scene." I thought it was a great answer. I think it was Kirk Douglas' way of saying no one but me is me."

When Douglas enters Trumbo's (Bryan Cranston) life in the late 1950s, the screenwriter had long been forced to churn out screenplays under various pseudonyms. As a young actor and producer, Douglas hired the writer to adapt Howard Fast's novel "Spartacus," the 1960 epic he was producing and starring in as a Roman slave who leads a revolt. Despite threats that publicly using Trumbo would ruin his career, Douglas insisted he get screen credit on the film directed by Stanley Kubrick, helping to break the lengthy blacklist against Trumbo and other writers.

Douglas, said O'Gorman, has admitted that had he been older at the time he may have been more hesitant to use Trumbo's real name in the credits. But being so young, O'Gorman added, he was a little more headstrong. "One thing he has said is that he hated being told what to do. He was really inspired by the injustice of it. He could have lost a lot, and he was really nervous about the outcome of it."

O'Gorman had long been a fan of Douglas. "I read his autobiography, 'The Ragman's Son,' when I was a teenager," he said. "I always thought he was a fascinating force of nature."

Though he was aware of the Hollywood blacklist, O'Gorman didn't know the full story until he began work on the film. "It was quite shocking to find out these people who were deemed to be a threat to the nation were — only two years prior — sort of being revered as these incredible artists. And they were pushed aside."

O'Gorman, who looks strikingly like the young Douglas, heeded the advice of the veteran actor and "Trumbo" director Jay Roach not to do an impression. So there is no muscular posturing or "I'm KIRK DOUGLAS!" proclamations.

In an email interview, Roach noted, "Dean's interpretation of Mr. Douglas required more overlap of Dean's own heart and soul with the essence of Kirk Douglas. If Dean had tried to mimic Douglas, the iconic mask might have gone more opaque. What Dean did is much more like channeling Douglas through his own face and body."

One of the most difficult aspects of playing Douglas was having to wear the form-fitting "Spartacus" duds. "It took a while to get used to wearing little leather undies," O'Gorman said with a laugh.

Douglas, noted Roach, has seen "Trumbo" and went out of his way to compliment O'Gorman's performance. "He said the only guy who could have done better at playing Kirk than Dean was ... Kirk himself," said Roach. "Douglas said he was upset we didn't ask him!"

 

 

L.A. Mission gets another $5M from Kirk and Anne Douglas

--October 22, 2015

Angela George [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Actor Kirk Douglas and his wife, Anne, pledged another $5 million to the Los Angeles Mission’s women’s center, boosting their support of the mission to $15 million over the last three years, officials said Thursday.

“Anne and Kirk Douglas are the gold standard for giving to the mission and our L.A. community,” Los Angeles Mission President Herb Smith said. “They are doers and role models of service for us all. They have been very involved in every aspect of the Anne Douglas Center and the center’s substantial work to help desperate women who are out of options.”

Anne Douglas announced the donation during the mission’s Legacy of Vision Gala Tuesday night.

“We always say, ‘Caring is sharing,’” Anne Douglas said. “You really only own what you give away. It sounds like a contradiction, but it really is true. Our joy comes from what we have given away. To see women’s lives turned completely around means everything to us.”

Jane Fonda Ponders Art’s Impact on Youth at Santa Barbara Fete

--Variety  October 3, 2015

Jane Fonda Ponders Art's Impact on

GOLETA, Calif. — Two-time Oscar winning actress Jane Fonda kept the focus on social concerns in accepting a career achievement honor presented by the Santa Barbara International Film Festival Saturday night.

The 10th annual Kirk Douglas Award for Excellence in Film in hand, Fonda took a moment to recognize the programs that benefit from the annual fundraising dinner (which has honored luminaries such as Jessica Lange, Forest Whitaker, Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas and Harrison Ford in recent years). She recalled formerly running a local performing arts camp herself for underprivileged children. It was there she said she discovered the impact art can have on youth, when one of the children there confessed she had never met people who think about the future. “When you’re poor or not loved, you see no future,” Fonda recalled understanding.

She also added with a twist that the camp was powered by alternative energies. “This was the end of the 70s,” she boasted. “So don’t let anyone tell you we don’t have the technology.”

Programs supported by the Gala include Mike’s Field Trip to the Movies, the 10-10-10 Mentorship program and competitions, the Film Studios Program, Apple Box Family Films and a new Film Camp initiative to be launched this summer.

Fonda admitted to having some difficulty watching her career fly by in a series of clip packages. “I’m 78 and I still feel like a student,” she said. “[I see this and think,] ‘I can do it better.'”

Nevertheless, it’s an impressive portfolio, one that builds to an explosive if fleeting performance in Paolo Sorrentino’s “Youth.” Given the respect Fonda commands, the impact of her work in the film and her propensity to own podiums and red carpets, this isn’t likely to be the last honor she accepts on the awards circuit this season.

Actresses Elizabeth Banks (a big “9 to 5” fan) and Diane Lane presented tributes to Fonda throughout the evening, the former being applauded by both Fonda and SBIFF Executive Director Roger Durling for helming a box office hit in “Pitch Perfect 2” while also delivering great, distinctive performances in films like “Love & Mercy” and “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2” this year.

Quoting Edith Wharton and reading from meticulously assembled note cards, Lane pondered what it is about Fonda’s appeal on screen that penetrates so deeply. “You’re just elevated to a higher form of comprehension [when you watch her work],” the “Unfaithful” and “Man of Steel” star said.

Since 2006, the Kirk Douglas Award for Excellence in Film has been awarded to a lifelong contributor to cinema through their work in front of the camera, behind, or both. Douglas could not make the ceremony Saturday night, but he did send in pre-taped congratulations while showing off an impressive gray ponytail, still bursting with energy at nearly 99 years old.

The 31st annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival runs Feb. 3 – 13, 2016.

Freida "Fritzi" Demsky Becker, sister of actor Kirk Douglas, dies

--September 23, 2015

Twins, Fritzi Becker, of Albany N.Y. and Ida Sahr, of Schenectady, sisters of Kirk Douglas, attend the Proctors Capital Region Hall of Fame induction Sept. 20, 2008. (James Goolsby/Times Union archive) Photo: JAMES GOOLSBY / 00000306A

Photo: Fritzi Becker, left, with twin sister Ida Sahr in 2008.

ALBANY - Freida "Fritzi" Demsky Becker, the sister of actor Kirk Douglas, died on Sunday, according to an obituary published in the Times Union.

Becker, like her brother, was born in Amsterdam. She spent most of her life in Albany.

According to her obituary, she retired as the manager of the former David's Clothing Stores which had locations in Albany and Niskayuna.

She was predeceased by her husband, Harold "Hunky" Becker, who died in 1992.

In addition to her brother and his wife, Anne, Becker is survived by her sister, Ida Sahr of Schenectady. The obituary said she was also the loving mother of Gary Becker and his partner, Jack Cadalso Jr. of Albany, David Becker and his wife, Judy Coyne- Becker, also of Albany, and Barbara Becker of Chicago.

Service were held Tuesday at the Levine Memorial Chapel in Albany.

A memorial contribution can be made in her memory to the Harold J. Becker Fund at Temple Israel in Albany, 600 New Scotland Ave., Albany, NY 12208.