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 50 Million Dollar Man

--August 4. 2012 on examiner.com

Kirk Douglas gives back

Hollywood legend Kirk Douglas has pledged a massive fifty million dollar donation to charity. This sizable donation from the "Spartacus" star shows that the original action hero is a hero with a heart. The 95 year-old star and his wife Anne take philanthropy seriously.

The "Spartacus" star and his wife, Anne, will give the money to five nonprofit organizations through their Douglas Foundation, WENN reports.

St. Lawrence University is a big recipient

A portion of the cash will go to improve the Harry's Haven Alzheimer's unit at the Motion Picture & Television Fund's retirement home and hospital in Woodland Hills, California, while part of the donation will help the Kirk Douglas Theater in Culver City. Another recipient is a women's shelter in Los Angeles and Kirk Douglas' alma mater, St. Lawrence University in New York, which will receive funding to boost a scholarship program for minority students.

In a statement, 95-year-old Douglas says, "Anne and I are of one mind in our philosophical approach to philanthropy. We believe caring is sharing."

Staten Island arts enthusiasts, this is one story that should give you a new appreciation for Kirk and the "Golden Age" of Hollywood. They don't make movie stars like Kirk Douglas anymore. Gotta love this heroic act and appreciate his golden legacy all the more.

 

Kirk & Anne Douglas Donate $5 Million to LA Mission

August 3, 2012

Kirk and Anne Douglas have continued their support by pledging $ 5 million to the Anne Douglas Center located at the Los Angeles Mission.

The women’s program of the Mission is referred to as the “jewel of my heart” by Anne Douglas. The Center provides a rehabilitation program together with emergency services for homeless women on Skid Row who choose to turn their life around. The Anne Douglas Center program has seen over 250 graduates and has served thousands of women and children in the last twenty years.

The Douglas family originally funded the development of the Anne Douglas Center, named after the wife of Kirk Douglas, in 1992 and the Douglas family continues to offer their time and resources to the Mission. Besides volunteering at various events such as the annual Thanksgiving event, Anne Douglas regularly celebrates her birthday lunch with women at the Anne Douglas Center.

“If I had but one wish, I think becoming a recognized patron of homeless men and women would be it. I hope together we will be able to alleviate their plight entirely,” said Anne Douglas during the planning stages of the Anne Douglas Center.

The Anne Douglas Center provides a safe environment for women to escape the streets of Skid Row. Women in the program participate in education and spiritual courses, participate in a work program, and develop friendships that continue past graduation. After the completion of the program and regular visits by Anne Douglas, students at the Anne Douglas Center receive a special “gift from grandma.”

“Through the initial vision and passion for women in need, the Anne Douglas Center was created by Kirk and Anne Douglas along with their friends. Now, that vision has transitioned to a legacy of core support to carry on the gift of changed lives and new beginnings,” said Herb Smith, President of the Los Angeles Mission. “We are eternally grateful to the Douglas Foundation for this outstanding pledge to the future of the Anne Douglas Center and the lives of women and families that will be restored to health, unity and community.”

Women may continue their education, start their own businesses, continue in their profession or reunite with their families following the completion of the12-month program. The love, support, and direction that the program offers is an example of Anne Douglas’ heart for the women and after twenty years, continues to help women move forward with their life.

Anne Douglas Award
The Los Angeles Mission hosts an annual gala where community service is recognized by the Anne Douglas Award. This year, the gala will be on September 12 at the Four Seasons Beverly Hills. Sponsorships and tables are still available. For information contact Jennifer Yarbrough at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

$50 Million Grant by Douglas Foundation

A $50 Million Decision by Kirk Douglas and His Wife Anne:

 MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR GRANTS TO FIVE NON-PROFITS CONTINUE THE DOUGLAS FOUNDATION’S LONG SUPPORT OF THE MPTF, CTG’s KIRK DOUGLAS THEATER, THE L.A. MISSION’S ANNE DOUGLAS CENTER FOR WOMEN, SINAI TEMPLE, AND  ST. LAWRENCE UNIVERSITY SCHOLARSHIPS

(Beverly Hills, CA.  July 26) The Douglas Foundation, the charitable arm of longtime philanthropists Kirk and Anne Douglas, sent out multi-million dollar pledges this week totaling $50 million to five of their favorite nonprofit organizations.  The recipients include the Motion Picture & Television Fund (MPTF) to which the actor/producer has been contributing since his earliest days in film; the Anne Douglas Center for Women at the Los Angeles Mission, now in its 20th year; the Center Theater Group’s Kirk Douglas Theater in Culver City,CA; Sinai Temple in Westwood,CA with its Kirk and Anne Douglas Childhood Center; and St. Lawrence University in New York, which Kirk Douglas attended on a wrestling scholarship.

Speaking for his wife and himself, Kirk Douglas said, “Anne and I are of one mind in our philosophical approach to philanthropy. We believe caring is sharing.” They established The Douglas Foundation to make more significant  and meaningful contributions to charitable causes.

In 1990, Kirk Douglas asked his wife if they could sell their art collection by modern masters like Chagall, Miro, Picasso and Dubuffet to enlarge the scope of The Douglas Foundation.  The auction at Christie’s of these major works enabled them to begin their ten-year commitment to rebuild all of the dilapidated and unsafe playgrounds in schools throughout the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). The project was inspired by an article Anne Douglas read in the Los Angeles Times reporting  dangerous conditions in District play areas and the fact that  children could not use them. Over the decade, 400 playgrounds were equipped with the best and safest of equipment.  Yet another of Anne Douglas’s ambitious projects was to create the Anne Douglas Center for Women at the Los Angeles Mission, which shelters women and offers them recovery and retraining programs. The Center celebrates its 20th anniversary this September. At the Motion Picture and Television Home in Woodland Hills, CA, Kirk Douglas created Harry’s Haven, an exemplary care facility for Alzheimer’s patients. A  portion of the new gift will enlarge and improve this Alzheimer’s unit.      

 

Spearheaded by substantial Douglas Foundation funding, a defunct Art Deco movie house where Kirk Douglas movies used to play was rebuilt and opened as  the CTG/Kirk Douglas Theater in Culver City. New gifts from the Foundation will enable this award-winning theater to continue on its path of excellence.

 

Sinai Temple, which Kirk Douglas attends, helps many in the community and also houses the Douglas Family Pre-School. At his Alma Mater, St. Lawrence University, Douglas created a scholarship program for minority students with financial need who maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0, a nod to his own difficult days as one of the only Jews at the university. He often gets letters from successful scholarship recipients filling him in on their accomplishments and dreams. The new funding will enlarge this  program.

 

Kirk Douglas learned his first lessons in giving from his mother. Although the family was extremely poor, she always found some food for the hobos who knocked on the door. “Issur (Douglas’s given name),” she told him, “even a beggar has to give to another beggar who is worse off than he.”Anne Douglas embraced her new American citizenship and her new city of Los Angeles after marrying Kirk with a fierce commitment to “give back.”  Together, this philanthropic pair, married 58 years, has touched thousands of lives over the years. With the addition of $50 million to the organizations they have supported so generously, the good work is ensured to continue.          

 

Douglases Donate $20M to Motion Picture Fund

--August 1, 2012 United Press International

Film star Kirk Douglas and his wife, Anne, have donated $20 million to Hollywood's Motion Picture & Television Fund, MPTF chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg said.

MPTF provides financial assistance and services for seniors who worked in the entertainment industry and those who care for them.

"When it comes to philanthropy, there is no one who I have admired more or learned more from than Kirk Douglas and so to be able to make this announcement today with Anne and Kirk is such a great privilege for me. MPTF has had no greater friends than the two of them," Katzenberg said in a statement Monday.

"When Anne and I were deciding how much to give to MPTF this year, we looked again at the wide range of services the fund provides. Then we doubled our pledge! Of course, my very persuasive friend Jeffrey Katzenberg gave us lots of encouragement. We will expand Harry's Haven, our Alzheimer's unit, with a portion of the new donation. And I'm sure the board will use the rest where it is most needed," Douglas said. "You know, I believe that giving to others is selfish, because the giver gets so much pleasure from it. I hope Anne and I inspire many more selfish acts of this kind, especially from the younger generation of entertainment professionals."

"In addition to the millions Kirk has given and raised over the years for Harry's Haven on the MPTF campus, this new commitment will sustain our dementia care unit in the years ahead. What a wonderful way for the Douglas family to celebrate the spirit of giving back and set an example for others in the entertainment industry," said Bob Beitcher, MPTF president and chief executive officer.


The Fretful Birth of a New Western

--July 27, 2012 by Alex Cox in the New York Times

Kirk Douglas was worried. It was 1961, and this actor-producer had recently gambled on a big history picture, "Spartacus." He had fired the director — Anthony Mann — after a week of shooting, replacing him with Stanley Kubrick. Mr. Douglas thought the picture had turned out well, but it still hadn’t been released. Meanwhile he had encountered a paperback novel — “The Brave Cowboy,” by Edward Abbey — and optioned it through his production company, Byrna. And Byrna, which had a production deal with Universal, commissioned a screenplay, by Dalton Trumbo.

Mr. Douglas was gambling again, but playing a good hand. The material — the story of a modern-day cowboy who breaks into jail to rescue his best friend — is original for a western, and gets better as it goes along. Its screenwriter was talented and hard working. (Blacklisted and jailed after refusing to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee, Trumbo had for 10 years written scripts under assumed names, winning an Oscar for one of them as Robert Rich. Mr. Douglas went to bat for Trumbo on “Spartacus,” promising him a screen credit with his real name.) And Trumbo had solved the story’s two biggest problems: Why was the hero’s best friend in jail in the first place? And why wouldn’t he leave?

Abbey’s novel, published in 1956, is set a decade earlier, following the introduction of the military draft. Paul, the hero’s friend, has refused to register, not because he is a pacifist (he isn’t) but because he considers a draft unconstitutional. Like Abbey, Paul is an incipient libertarian or a patriotic anarchist. He has written the government and local authorities about his resistance to unjust authority and been given a year in jail. So it’s a moral imperative for Paul — when his old compadre John W. Burns shows up with two files and a plan to ride for Mexico — to turn him down.

Fifty years after the release of that film, "Lonely Are the Brave," westerns may not be much in evidence at the multiplex. But on the small screen this summer, complex takes on the genre like "Hell on Wheels" (returning Aug. 12 to AMC) and “Longmire” (which has drawn big ratings for A&E) are in vogue again, and it’s worth taking another look at one of the bleakest westerns ever to grace the big screen.

In 1961, when Trumbo wrote the first version of the screenplay, it was unthinkable in Hollywood to feature a draft resister. It would be years before the Vietnam War made the draft an issue — so Trumbo, at his most sardonic, thought of an alternative crime for Paul: associating with parrot smugglers. This lasted one round of what is otherwise an excellent screenplay. In the next version, titled "The Last Hero," Trumbo came up with another solution: Paul is in jail for assisting illegal immigrants find food and work. It was a prescient choice, anticipating the Sanctuary Movement of the 1980s and our current turmoil over undocumented workers.

Having addressed Paul’s “crime of principle,” Trumbo follows Abbey’s novel closely: Burns gets locked up then busts himself and two Indians out of jail, heading for the hills on his coquettish horse, Whiskey. The film’s second half tracks Burns’s evasion of his pursuers and his encounter with a nemesis both inevitable and ludicrous. Trumbo shows a clear sense of location and landscape, including as his title page a hand-drawn map of the cowboy’s intended route, via the Sangre de Cristo and Manzano Mountains, into Mexico.

Armed with a map, a great script, and a first-rate cast — he was playing Burns himself — Mr. Douglas seemingly had nothing to worry about. Yet on May 4, 1961, from the Western Skies Hotel in Albuquerque, with production already under way, he wrote a troubled letter. It was addressed to Mr. Gary Cooper, Beverly Hills.

“Dear Coop,” he wrote. “When for years you’ve had affection for a guy and you find it suddenly turning to resentment, you begin to think it deserves some comment.” He went on to say, “Put yourself in my spot. I’m doing a picture that should have been done by only one guy. I know it — my entire company knows it. Start with the title — The Last Hero. Now whom does that fit — me? Hell, no!”

Mr. Douglas complained to Cooper that his director, David Miller, was uncommunicative and focused on realism. The only direction Miller had given was, “try and play this the way Gary Cooper would.” Even worse had been Abbey’s arrival on set. Mr. Douglas reported that he’d driven to meet Abbey at the Albuquerque airport: “Fifty guys step off the plane but I spot him immediately — why? He looks like Gary Cooper. To make matters worse, when I meet him, he talks like Cooper!”

For a moment it sounds as if Mr. Douglas the producer was angling for Cooper to take over the lead. But this was impossible. Cooper was terminally ill and would die nine days later. Certainly Mr. Douglas knew this when he wrote he wanted to follow in Cooper’s footsteps throughout the shoot: “I know now that at best I will come remotely close. But more important — I do know also that just trying to be you will make a better me.”

Such heartfelt words acknowledged that outside help would not be forthcoming. It is the message of the film as well. Abbey’s presence looms over the film — both Burns and Paul contain aspects of his character — but did he really look like Cooper? To a certain extent. Did he really visit the set? Recalling Abbey after his death in 1989, Mr. Douglas wrote, “I never met Mr. Abbey, but we wrote to each other several times.”

Which was it? Does it matter? Either way, the story of Abbey’s visit gave Mr. Douglas an opportunity to write a fan letter, and to prepare for a role he felt his mentor could have better played. As the pressmen conclude in "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance," the other great western made that year: If confronted with two conflicting versions, “print the legend.”

Before the shoot Byrna put out a release emphasizing Miller’s realism: nonactors would be cast, a genuine painter would play Paul’s wife, the sets would showcase her work. It was all for naught: professional actors — Gena Rowlands, Walter Matthau, George Kennedy — were used instead. “The Brave Cowboy,” shot as “The Last Hero,” was released in 1962 as “Lonely Are the Brave” — elegantly photographed, theatrical rather than “natural,” exuberantly acted, deftly paced. There is no greater western, and certainly no more tragic one. Despite his doubts Mr. Douglas personified Burns, flouting cinematic rules by doing his own stunts and co-starring with an animal, a high spot of his career.

It’s hard to imagine a film so radical, or so pessimistic, being made today. Though a Korean War hero, Burns refuses to carry ID or listen to reason. He disrespects the power company by cutting its barbed-wire fences; the county jail, by breaking out; the sheriff, whose manhunt he eludes; the military-industrial complex, whose helicopter he shoots down; and us, the viewers, who — when the lights go up or the DVD ends — return to a life played mainly by the rules. Remarkable for a low-budget western, “Lonely Are the Brave” poses uneasy questions about the idea, and value, of heroism. Do Paul’s principles justify abandoning his wife and child? Where does Burns’s extraordinary journey lead?

 

Alex Cox is a film director who teaches production and screenwriting at the University of Colorado, Boulder.