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.

The Official Walt Disney Fan Club to Present 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

For the second consecutive year, the TCM Classic Film Festival will celebrate the legacy of The Walt Disney StudiosTurner Classic Movies (TCM), in collaboration with D23: The Official Disney Fan Club, will present a 75th anniversary screening of Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs(1937), Disney’s first hand-drawn feature-length animated film. In addition, legendary actor Kirk Douglas will present the first general public screening of the newly restored (from original camera negatives) live-action adventure, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954).

On Friday, April 13, at 2:45 p.m., Hollywood legend Kirk Douglas will be present at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre for the first public screening of the newly restored 1954 adventure film epic, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, the first live-action feature film shot at Walt Disney’s Burbank studios. Disney recruited an A-list cast including Kirk Douglas, James Mason and Paul Lukas, and a set budget of $9 million, the largest in Hollywood history at that time.

Walt Disney had originally planned to turn Jules Verne’s tale of Captain Nemo’s battle to wipe out warfare into an animated feature. But when he saw designer Harper Goff’s preliminary sketches, he decided to make the switch to live action. To film the massive production – the studio’s first in CinemaScope – Disney added a water tank and a third soundstage to his studio, rented additional space from 20th Century-Fox and Universal, and sent cast and crew to the Caribbean for underwater shooting. His technicians also had to develop new equipment for the film’s many underwater scenes and create a giant, two-ton squid for the film’s most impressive sequence.

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea went on to earn two Oscars®, one for the eye-popping visual effects and one for John Meehan and Emile Kuri’s art direction and set decoration. The film earned a third nomination for Elmo Williams’ editing.

Operation Undersea, an episode of the Disneyland TV series highlighting the creation of the film, won Emmys® for Best Individual Program of the Year (1955) and Best Television Film Editing.

Culture Clash's 'American Night' at Kirk Douglas

Speak softly and carry a big schtick: That’s the guiding principle of “American Night: The Ballad of Juan José,” Richard Montoya’s fast-paced fantasia on U.S. history, now running rampant at the Kirk Douglas Theatre. Developed in collaboration with Culture Clash, the gleeful “Night” uses sketch comedy, song and a dizzying number of wigs to survey the glories and pratfalls of the American Dream. 

Dream, as in emphasis on slumber. The night before taking his citizenship exam, an exhausted Juan José (René Millán, nicely understated) tries to wrap his head around constitutional amendments and the logic of the Spanish-American War. Dozing off, he takes a picaresque spin through two centuries of “democracy,” bumbling into the famous (Jackie Robinson), the infamous (the Ku Klux Klan) and the obscure (see below). Consider “Night” as revisionist vaudevillian history of the United States from a (Howard) Zinn-master. Bemused, sly and sometimes moving, the evening affirms that we the people are indeed free to pursue happiness, despite metered parking in Culver City until 11 p.m. 

Fluidly directed by Jo Bonney, who shares a development credit with Culture Clash, “Night” is nimblest when it exposes the strange bedfellows of the American project. Shawn Sagady’s projections slide along upstage corrugated panels, leaving the stage a free-for-all where, for instance, Sacagawea (Stephanie Beatriz) is imagined as a brainy Ugly Betty, wearing a retainer and in need of a quick trip to REI to procure appropriate footwear.  (Her response to her face on the dollar coin? “I look fat.”) 

Juan also meets Viola Pettus (Kimberly Scott), an African American woman who even nursed KKK members during the virulent 1918 Spanish flu outbreak in West Texas. He hangs with Ralf Lazo (Daisuke Tsuji), a 16-year-old of Irish and Mexican descent who insisted on joining his Asian American classmates after they were interned at Manzanar Camp in 1942.  The chameleon cast shifts identities at top speed, and Montoya himself does Bob Dylan that would give Cate Blanchett pause. 

Yes, “Night” leans left, but it has about as much patience for political correctness as it has for Rush Limbaugh. So don’t look for the play’s take on the current immigration debate to shed new light on the issue; that would be missing the point. Montoya understands that history itself is theater, a series of showdowns in which competing narratives vie for supremacy. 

In the end, it’s America’s imperfection that propels an ambivalent Juan toward his new life. Our racists, radicals, imperialists and divine seekers show us who we are and who we would rather not be. And we all came here from somewhere else. The best quote of the night is from a source compiled around the time of the first Mayan hieroglyphics. See Exodus 22:21: “Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were a foreigner in Egypt.”

thank you

I spent the whole morning reading the fan mail on my website.  I was so touched by the outpouring of affection.  I wish it would be possible to answer each and every one of you.  But I must confess, you made my day by the flattering things you said. 

You know, when we make a movie or write a book, we have no idea of the reactions of the people who see it or read it.  I have now finished writing my last book, "I AM SPARTACUS".  I write about the making of the film and the breaking of the blacklist.  It's strange to write about something that happened over fifty years ago.  You forget so many things but the important things you remember like it was yesterday. 

Again, I thank you all and I hope you will keep writing.

Gratefully,
Kirk Douglas

SPARTACUS: Behind the Scenes of a Stanley Kubrick Classic

A full five decades after its debut, Spartacus is no longer a mere movie. Instead, the strange, flawed, enthralling sword-and-sandal epic long ago entered that thorny realm where unclassifiable cinematic touchstones (Vertigo, Night of the Hunter, Brazil, et al.) reside. Directed by a 32-year-old with only two feature films under his belt, produced by and starring mid-century superstar Kirk Douglas and featuring a galaxy of acting luminaries, the 1960 blockbuster has been exalted, imitated and parodied; honored, derided and dissected; and after all these years, it still achieves what most three-hour, big-budget historical dramas can only dream of: it’s entertaining as hell.

Critics, to absolutely no one’s surprise, were sharply divided over Spartacus when it was first released. TIME magazine called it “a new kind of Hollywood movie: a super-spectacle with spiritual vitality and moral force.” The New York Times‘ long-time film critic, meanwhile, dismissed the movie as “heroic humbug.” Over the years, most reviewers and movie fans, alike, have come around to the view that, while the film has its problems — its pacing alone drives some viewers to distraction — Spartacus remains one the most successful admixtures of action-flick and high-minded drama ever attempted .

The film’s eponymous star, Kirk Douglas, had teamed with Kubrick a few years earlier, in 1957, on one of the most powerful anti-war movies ever made — the lean masterpiece, Paths of Glory. Everything about Spartacus was far different, far more complex, far bigger than that first Douglas-Kubrick pairing. (Spartacus was produced by Douglas’ own production company, Bryna Productions, in association with Universal Studios.)

Still, Kubrick’s famously fertile filmmaker’s mind adapted itself to the vast production’s scope . For example, during the filming of one enormous battle scene (see slide #2), Kubrick placed “numbered signs among the ‘corpses’,” LIFE reported, “so that he could holler, ‘You there, next to number 163, move over or look dead or something.’ Otherwise, he would have hollered ‘you there’ and nine guys would have hollered back ‘Who, me?’ When he was ready to shoot they took the numbers away and shot. As a technique it worked fine, but on-screen the scene proved disappointing so they shot it all over again, this time indoors at Universal’s Hollywood studio.”

Along with the photos that offer insights into Kubrick’s method, this gallery also features images that, for film buffs, resonate with far more import than the simple action depicted. For instance, one Eyerman photograph (slide #4) captures one of the most memorable scenes in the entire movie, involving the character of Crassus (Laurence Olivier) attempting to seduce his slave, Antonius (played by Tony Curtis), during a glacially paced bathing scene. In an often-quoted exchange, Crassus quizzes Antonius on the latter’s taste in food — specifically, how the extremely able-bodied slave feels about gastropods and mollusks.

“Do you consider the eating of oysters to be moral and the eating of snails to be immoral?” Crassus asks, and then points out that “taste is not the same as appetite, and therefore not a question of morals.” When Antonius replies that such an assertion “could be argued so, master,” Crassus shares what was surely the worst-kept secret of the ancient world: “My taste,” he says, “includes both snails … and oysters.”

Its sheer, occasionally kitschy entertainment value notwithstanding, Spartacus is a movie with a message that today comes across as somehow melodramatic — Slavery Bad, Freedom Good — and politically pointed; in fact, the anti-authoritarian rumblings that inform so much of the film are, in retrospect, utterly unsurprising. The screenplay was written by the great Dalton Trumbo, after all — perhaps the most famous of the men and women blacklisted during the “Red Scare” McCarthy era that rocked Hollywood, splintered friendships and torpedoed promising careers.

Trumbo, a member of the Communist party for five years in the 1940s, was blacklisted after refusing to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee, and spent 11 months in a federal penitentiary. Many of his later screenplays were written under pseudonyms. But Kirk Douglas insisted that Trumbo’s credit for Spartacus be made public — an act of conscience that is often cited as the beginning of the end for the blacklist era.

“Senator McCarthy was an awful man,” Douglas once said. “He blacklisted the writers who wouldn’t obey his edict. The heads of the studios were hypocrites who went along with it. Too many people were using false names. I was embarrassed. I was young enough to be impulsive, so even though I was warned against it, I used [Trumbo's] real name on the screen.”

Long before his noble gesture came to light, however, there was still a movie to be made from Trumbo’s script, and not everyone was certain that the hugely ambitious, expensive effort would bear fruit.

“Douglas,” wrote David Zeitlin in notes to his editors at LIFE, a year before the film’s release, “I am sure will once again be old blood and guts, gnashing teeth, and Big Hero. [But] I still have considerable respect for director Stanley Kubrick. We shall see.”

Fifty years later, the verdict is in: as cinematic landmark and popular entertainment, Spartacus still delivers.

Fox Releases MAN FROM SNOWY RIVER on Blu-Ray

THE MAN FROM SNOWY RIVER is one of four family films released on Blu-ray for the first time March 6 from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.

MAN FROM SNOWY RIVER

Featuring Kirk Douglas in a dual role, highlighted by a climactic chase involving 40 horsemen and 90 wild stallions thundering across snow-covered peaks, and set during the 1880's, when the Australian frontier was as wild and dangerous as the American West, the film follows the exploits of a handsome youth (Tom Burlinson) who sets out to tame a wild herd of horses. Taking on a challenge many men had attempted before him, he rides deep into the treacherous and untamed wilderness of his native timberlands where boys become men fast - or die trying.