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.

kirkannebook

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 VikingsLust For LifePaths 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: Spartacus Vs. the Blacklist

by Patricia Bosworth June 27, 2012 / from bio.NOW at www.biography.com

kirk douglas i am spartacus

“When I look back on Spartacus today, more than fifty years after the fact, I am amazed it ever happened at all,” 95-year-old Kirk Douglas writes in I Am Spartacus! Making a Film, Breaking the Blacklist, his account of how he made the epic movie and, in the process, helped break the Hollywood blacklist. “Everything was against us. The McCarthy era politics. Another picture. Everything.”

Spartacus was just one of several projects Douglas had taken on as an independent producer in 1957. He optioned Howard Fast’s novel as soon as he read it, mesmerized by the powerful legend of Spartacus who, as one critic put it, stands for resistance to tyranny: “The story of a slave who lived before Christ and led a slave rebellion against the entire Roman Empire.”

 However, there were competing epics: Yul Brynner was about to star in The Gladiators, a similar film, for United Artists, and as a result, no movie studio would touch Douglas’ project except for Universal. Executives there wanted to see a script, but Douglas hedged, knowing Fast’s first draft was not good. And so he telephoned Dalton Trumbo, who had been one of the most prolific screenwriters in the business until the McCarthy era had derailed his career.

 In 1947, the House Un-American Activities Committee hearings in Washington, D.C., had begun investigating “alleged Communist infiltration in the film industry.” Trumbo was one of the Hollywood Ten, who, along with his colleagues, was jailed for contempt of Congress because he refused to divulge his political beliefs. Following the Hollywood Ten’s refusal to testify, the motion picture industry instituted a blacklist, declaring the group would not get work until they cooperated with the committee and recanted. For the next seven years, Trumbo wrote screenplays under pseudonyms such as “Sam Jackson.”

The Communist paranoia had a domino effect in Hollywood. More directors, producers, and actors were fired because of suspect political affiliations. Douglas hated what was going on and wished it would stop. He had a top-secret meeting with Trumbo, at the time a pariah in Hollywood, and they agreed to work together.

 With the blacklist raging on, Trumbo as “Sam Jackson” delivered a terrific screenplay in which Spartacus is transformed from a brute animal to a civilized human being, “a flesh-and-blood man with a heart and soul and a brain,” Douglas writes. (Brynner’s The Gladiators had been edged out by its more expensive and star-studded rival.)

 By then, everybody wanted to meet “Sam Jackson.” People asked Douglas for Sam’s phone number, but he put them off. Meanwhile Trumbo composed endless drafts, smoking and drinking in his bathtub with a parrot on his shoulder, as Douglas explains in his book.

 Back on set, Douglas had fired his original director, Anthony Mann, and replaced him with the brilliant but cold Stanley Kubrick, who never changed clothes and insulted everyone until Douglas had a stand-off with him in front of the entire cast and crew. Infuriated by Kubrick’s constant rewrites, Trumbo quit, and Douglas realized there was only one way he could get him to return. Douglas told Trumbo he would give him name credit on the film—his real name, not “Sam Jackson.” Trumbo knew it would mean breaking the blacklist.

 

Dalton Trumbo as he is about to be dragged out of the HUAC hearings for refusing to testify. His lawyer Bart Crum (author Patricia Bosworth's father) stands behind him. (Photo: Bettman/CORBIS)

 Douglas kept his word, and in an immensely courageous gesture, he put Trumbo’s name in the credits at the beginning of the movie. The American Legion immediately protested, as did other right-wing groups. Universal had agreed publicly to use Trumbo’s name, but the studio was afraid if the character Spartacus “even appeared to have a chance at overthrowing the Roman Empire, anti-Communist critics would say this was part of Trumbo’s hidden message designed to foment revolution in America.” Douglas had to watch helplessly as Universal removed much of the film’s potentially controversial content.

 When Spartacus was released in October 1960, audiences and critics were enthusiastic, and today it’s considered a classic. In later years, friends would congratulate Douglas on breaking the blacklist, but he would maintain, “I just wanted to make a good movie.”

About the author:

Patricia Bosworth is an acclaimed journalist and the bestselling author of biographies on Montgomery Clift, Marlon Brando, Diane Arbus, and Jane Fonda. Bosworth’s father, attorney Bartley Crum, was one of the four lawyers who defended the Hollywood Ten during the HUAC hearings, a period she documents in her memoir Anything Your Little Heart Desires: An American Family Story.

Kirk on ABC World News on Friday June 29

Kirk Douglas will be on ABC World News with Diane Sawyer on Friday, June 29 at 6:30 PM. David Muir will be interviewing him about his new book "I Am Spartacus!" among other things. Tune in for what promises to be a very interesting broadcast.

Essential Film Performances: Kirk Douglas in Ace in the Hole

from Sarah Boslaugh PopMatters.com

 

Under the Radar
Kirk Douglas
Ace in the Hole
(Billy Wilder, 1951)

cover art

Ace in the Hole

Director: Billy Wilder
Review [21.Aug.2007]

Journalists don’t come more cynical than Kirk Douglas’s Chuck Tatum, a big-city writer who lands in Albuquerque after drinking, womanizing, and otherwise sabotaging his career. Now he has to hustle up a job at the Albuquerque Sun-Bulletin, whose only distinction is that it’s the paper published nearest to where his car broke down. Yet Tatum manages to treat even his entrance into town like a royal procession, riding in his towed car as if he were a king touring his lands.


Douglas is on screen for most Billy Wilder’s Ace in the Hole, and the “big carnival” which gave the film its alternate title can be seen as the physical extension of his own corrupt persona. Scorning the paper’s motto, “Tell the truth,” Tatum is only interested in finding a story so big that his reporting will be picked up by the wire services and he’ll be rehired by his old paper in New York. Opportunity presents itself when a local man (Leo Minosa, played by Richard Benedict) is trapped in an abandoned mine; contrary to the rules of ethical journalism, as well as those of human decency, Tatum inserts himself into the story and delays Leo’s rescue in order to milk the potential tragedy for all it’s worth.


It’s worth quite a bit, at least in the short term—news of Leo’s plight draws other reporters, tourists, and politicians, as well as any hustler eager for a chance to work the crowd. The area near the mine quickly comes to resemble the midway of a state fair, complete with cotton candy and rides on the Ferris wheel. Tatum positions himself as the ringmaster of the resulting circus, cultivating a relationship with the naïve Leo and bribing the local sheriff to be sure it’s Tatum’s story and no one else’s.


Ace in the Hole may be the darkest of Billy Wilder’s films, and Chuck Tatum the most unredeemable of his characters; that’s saying quite a bit for the man who directed Sunset Boulevard and Double Indemnity. Yet you can’t turn away from Douglas’ performance, which is as luridly fascinating as watching a train wreck in slow motion. Perhaps we, like the fictional crowds in Ace in the Hole, are always ready to witness human tragedy, as long as it’s happening to someone else.  Sarah Boslaugh

Third bar mitzva for Kirk Douglas scheduled for December

from The Times of Israel, June 17, 2012

Kirk Douglas in the 1960 movie 'Spartacus.' (photo credit: public domain)

 

Los Angeles (JTA) — At 95, Kirk Douglas has just released his tenth book and is prepping for his third bar mitzva, which is scheduled for this coming December.

The iconic actor appeared at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood on June 12 to launch the book and to reset his hand, foot and dimpled chin print in cement, at the same spot he performed the ritual exactly 50 years ago.

Launching at the same time “I Am Spartacus! Making a Film, Breaking the Blacklist,” Douglas described his latest opus as “the most important book I have ever written.”

Douglas produced and starred in the title role of the 1960 movie “Spartacus.” By publicly crediting Dalton Trumbo, a former Communist, as the screenwriter, he effectively broke the studios’ blacklist against professionals with communist ties.

“I was making a film about freedom at a time when freedom in America was in jeopardy,” Douglas said. “There are parallels to today’s political climate and I thought it was timely to set down my recollections.”

The theater, celebrating its own 85th anniversary, marked the occasion by screening “Spartacus” at the original ticket price of 25 cents.

Douglas jokingly grumbled that the original entry fee was only a dime and that Grauman’s was overcharging. He told the crowd, “If you don’t have a quarter, I’ll help you out,” and then tossed fistfuls of the coin to a mass of outstretched hands.

Douglas, born Issur Danielovitch, the son of an illiterate Russian-Jewish rag picker and junkman, found his way back to Judaism after a helicopter crash in 1991, which killed two younger companions but spared him.

At 83, he celebrated his second bar mitzva, 13 years after the traditional allotted lifespan of 70, telling well-wishers at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, “Today I am a man.”

Douglas will repeat the ceremony toward the end of this year, when he will be 96. “I am still looking forward,” he recently told ABC-TV.

“I Am Spartacus!” is being published in print, eBook and audiobook formats, the last narrated by Kirk’s son, actor Michael Douglas, with a foreword by George Clooney.

Kirk Douglas Revisits Spartacus and the Communist Blacklist in New Book

 

from Tim Newcomb, Time Magazine, June 12, 2012

Danny Moloshok / Reuters
Danny Moloshok / Reuters
Actor Michael Douglas (L) and his father, actor Kirk Douglas, arrive at the 2012 Vanity Fair Oscar party in West Hollywood, California February 26, 2012.

Kirk Douglas, 95, embraced all kinds of technology with his multi-media launch today of his “E-riginal” book I Am Spartacus! Making a Film, Breaking the Blacklist.

Available as either an ebook or a paperback, you can aslo grab the legendary actor’s memoir as an audiobook, with son—and multi-Oscar winner—Michael Douglas doing the reading. And to just toss a little more star power into the mix, George Clooney penned the forward.

 The book details how Douglas, who both starred in and helped produce the Roman epic Spartacus, was forced to work around the famed Hollywood suspected Communist blacklist, a 1950s-ear fear that permeated throughout the movie industry and resulted in unemployment for many writers, producers and actors. “The blacklist was a witch hunt, destroying lives and careers without regard for the truth of the allegations,” Douglas says in a press release promoting his book. “I made Spartacus with a blacklisted writer, Dalton Trumbo, who had to hide behind a pseudonym—Sam Jackson for Spartacus—in order to find work.”

Trumbo, it turned out, worked throughout the ’50s under assumed names to avoid the blacklist that kept him out of his job.

Douglas claims the politics of today make airing the truth about America’s lack of freedom during the making of Spartacus most relevant, saying there are “parallels to today’s political climate.”

“I was making a film about freedom at a time when freedom in America was in jeopardy,” he says. He credits Spartacus with helping break apart the blacklist in Hollywood because producers didn’t shy away from hiring members of the blacklist.

Readers will not only learn about the entire Spartacus film-making process, they also get to experience Clooney’s glowing praise: “Kirk Douglas is many things. A movie star. An actor. A producer. But he is, first and foremost, a man of extraodirnary character … the kind we always look for at our darkest hour.”