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 "Reflections" and "Activities" posts.
Clicking 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.
Clicking 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.
Clicking the "Kirk Douglas Theatre" button, you'll get the latest news about productions at the theatre, named to honor Kirk Douglas and established as the newest and most intimate of the Center Theatre Group's spaces, which include the Ahmanson and Mark Taper Theatres at the Los Angeles Music Center.
By clicking “Fan Mail,” you’ll have the opportunity to share your thoughts with Kirk.
Kirk Doulgas's new book, written with his wife Anne, Kirk and Anne: Letters of Love, Laughter, and a Lifetime in Hollywood is now available. This link will enable you to order a copy, and have part of the proceeds go to the work of The Douglas Foundation.
Film legend Kirk Douglas and Anne Buydens, his wife of nearly sixty-three years, look back on a lifetime filled with drama both on and off the screen. Sharing priceless correspondence with each other as well as the celebrities and world leaders they called friends, Kirk and Anne is a candid portrayal of the pleasures and pitfalls of a Hollywood life lived in the public eye.
Compiled from Anne's private archive of letters and photographs, this is an intimate glimpse into the Douglases' courtship and marriage set against the backdrop of Kirk's screen triumphs, including The Vikings, Lust For Life, Paths of Glory, and Spartacus. The letters themselves, as well as Kirk and Anne's vivid descriptions of their experiences, reveal remarkable insight and anecdotes about the legendary figures they knew so well, including Lauren Bacall, Frank Sinatra, Burt Lancaster, Elizabeth Taylor, John Wayne, the Kennedys, and the Reagans. Filled with photos from film sets, private moments, and public events, Kirk and Anne details the adventurous, oftentimes comic, and poignant reality behind the glamour of a Hollywood life-as only a couple of sixty-two years (and counting) could tell it.
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.
Spartacus: the history, the book, the movie.
- Created on Saturday, 01 December 2018
- Written by Willow Arune
--Prince George Citizen November 17, 2018
The story of Spartacus has become known throughout the world.
Spartacus was from Thrace, now the northeastern part of Greece, and born in the early part of the first century BC. After deserting from the Roman Legions, he was captured and sold as a slave. Given his strength and fighting prowess, he was sent to a training school for gladiators near Naples. At some time during the training, Spartacus led the other gladiators in a revolt against their owner, captured sufficient arms and armour for his small band, and encamped on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius. As other slaves joined up, he, along with two others, were elected leaders.
In what historians call the Third Servile War, Spartacus defeated a Roman Army sent to put down the revolt. Another army was sent out from Rome and it too was defeated. Word of the revolt spread and other slaves and peasants flocked to join. All in all, Spartacus' army swelled to an estimated 70,000. After a winter pause, the Romans sent another army to end the revolt. After an initial success, they too were defeated and Spartacus turned his army north, towards Rome itself.
The threat to Rome was real. Forty thousand troops were mustered to fend off the rebels. Part of this force was defeated but Spartacus was forced to turn south. When he and his army arrived in southern Italy he decided to start a further revolt in Sicily and made a bargain with some local pirates to move part of his force to the island. The pirates took his money but refused to sail. The rebel force was now trapped - the Roman army on one side and the Mediterranean on the other. Mobility was gone, the rebels under siege.
Suffice to say, the army of slaves and peasants was not up to this kind of warfare. One group after another fled. Finally, Spartacus launched an attack and was soundly defeated. He was killed in the final battle. Those captured and not killed - over 6,000 of them - were crucified along the Appian Way, the road that led to Rome.
The story of Spartacus is contained in several Roman histories written at the time and has long been used as a tale of rising against oppression.
Howard Fast was a successful American novelist. Starting in 1933, he produced many wonderful historical novels, most based on American history. Conceived in Liberty, The Last Frontier, Citizen Tom Paine', and Freedom Road were only a few of the well-written and very popular Fast books. But Fast had been a self-acknowledged member of the Communist Party in the U.S. and was summoned to testify before Senator Joe McCarthy and his House Committee on Un-American Activities in 1950.
Asked to name those who contributed to a fund for orphans of parents who died in the Spanish Civil War, he refused. Fast was sentenced to three months in prison for contempt of court and blacklisted by publishers. That meant even though his books had been very patriotic and popular, no publisher would dare publish any book written by him as the Red Scare swept America. It was a time of witch-hunts and civil rights abuse. To express any politically left-wing thought was to risk termination from any job, public or private, with little chance of getting another. McCarthy made Hollywood a special target for his many accusations.
In his later autobiography Being Red, Fast wrote of his experiences during these dark days. Again and again publishers would refuse to even consider any book or even any article written by him. As a way of expressing his turmoil in what he hoped would be a manner acceptable notwithstanding the blacklist, he seized upon the tale of Spartacus. He "brooded" about the book while serving his prison sentence, writing it after his release. Denied a passport, he could not visit Italy and had to rely on travel books on the country to describe where the events took place. It was submitted to publisher after publisher. J. Edgar Hoover, head of the FBI, had told publishers not to print anything written by Fast no matter how good it might be. While many editors praised the book privately, none would dare to publish a book written by a blacklisted author. =Nor would any bookstore dare to sell such a book even if it was published. =The blacklist was a powerful force in the early 1950s.
Although funds were tight, Fast and his wife were determined that his new novel would reach the public. They had a flyer prepared and distributed that by mail or in any place that would permit them - bookstores, coffee shops, drug stores, five and dimes, anywhere. The book was offered for $2.50 and would be mailed to any purchaser directly by Fast. Five thousand copies were privately published and sales went through the roof. In short order, the book was reprinted seven times in four months as sales soared. Each was marked "PUBLISHED BY THE AUTHOR, BOX 171 PLANTARIUM STATION, NEW YORK CITY". It was not until 1958 when Crown Publishers would take the book to the general public.
One of those who bought a copy was the actor Kirk Douglas (the father of Michael Douglas). Knowing how difficult it would be to produce, Douglas personally bought the screen rights from Fast and hired Dalton Trumbo, a blacklisted screenwriter, to write the screenplay. Like Fast, the screenwriter had served time in jail for his views and had been forced to write under assumed names to survive (he had written the screenplay for the film Exodus under an assumed name). Douglas insisted that he be given full credit for the movie. In those troubled times that was risky. No studio would consider distributing the film until Douglas presented Universal with signed contracts with major film actors of the times - Curtis, Ustinov, Simmons, Olivier, and Laughton - each of whom had agreed to perform in the film at some considerable risk. A blacklisted composer, Alex North, was hired to develop the soundtrack music using an odd assortment of ancient instruments. The movie opened on Oct. 7, 1960.
Upon release, the film Spartacus drew big audiences but was also picketed by those who regarded it as yet another "Red" movie from Communist Hollywood. Then President-elect J. F. Kennedy crossed a picket line to see the picture (of course, many of those manning the picket lines thought Kennedy was a Communist too). At the Oscars, Spartacus received six nominations and won four. In following years, the original film was reissued with substantial additional scenes that had been cut from the released version.
When Crown Publishers reissued the book and Universal released the movie, blacklisting was effectively over. The movie is even today rated amongst the best ever made, the book remains in publication, and a TV series, an animated version, a sequel (Son of Spartacus), and a ballet by Khachaturian have followed.
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.