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.
Egyptian Theatre tribute to Kirk Douglas to feature legendary actor
- Created on Sunday, 16 September 2012
- Written by Kenneth Turan
Los Angeles Times September 12, 2012
Kirk Douglas is one of the last of the giants, the 95-year-old survivor of Hollywood's last golden age and still going strong.
He is scheduled to make an in-person appearance at the American Cinematheque's Egyptian Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 19 to help kick off a seven-film tribute to the durable actor.
The film Douglas will speak before is one of his best: 1962's elegiac "Lonely Are the Brave," written by Dalton Trumbo from an Edward Abbey novel and directed by David Miller.
The actor plays a traditional cowboy who has a run-in with modern law enforcement, exemplified by an excellent Walter Matthau.
Other films showing in the series include "Ace in the Hole," "Paths of Glory," "The Bad and the Beautiful," "Lust for Life," "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" and, of course, "Spartacus." Aces, every one.
Kirk Douglas Doubles Skid Rod Pledge to $10M
- Created on Sunday, 16 September 2012
- Written by Associated Press
Los Angeles, September 13, 2012
Kirk Douglas has doubled his Los Angeles Skid Row pledge for homeless women to $10 million - surprising even his wife, for whom the effort is named.
Kirk and Anne Douglas made the initial $5 million pledge in July for continued support of the Anne Douglas Center for Women at the Los Angeles Mission, which opened two decades ago on Valentine's Day.
The 95-year-old actor also gave his wife an award Wednesday for her work at the shelter.
Kirk Douglas says his wife told him she was determined to do something for her country when they married 57 years ago and he says she has never stopped.
Kirk Douglas: My Spartacus Broke All the Rules
- Created on Monday, 03 September 2012
- Written by Barbara Paskin
--September 3, 2012 The Telegraph (UK)
It’s a blisteringly hot morning in Beverly Hills and Kirk Douglas is relaxing in the lounge of his elegant home where he lives with his wife Anne, two labradors and an enviable collection of fine art. He has just finished a gruelling exercise session with his personal trainer.
In spite of the heat and his exertions, he’s looking alert and cool, clad in beige trousers and thin black shirt. His once blond hair long ago turned white, but the trademark dimple in his chin has lost none of its prominence. His speech is still slurred and slow from the stroke he had in 1996, but his memory and sense of humour are as finely honed as ever.
“When you have a stroke,” he explains, only partly serious, “you must talk slowly to be understood, and I’ve discovered that when I talk slowly, people listen.” He laughs self-deprecatingly. “They think I’m going to say something important!”
The last of the great movie stars, Douglas is one of the American Film Institute’s greatest American screen legends of all time, their highest-ranked actor alive. That makes him a true living legend, I remark. His mouth quivers in an ironic smile. “At least I’m still living!”
Indeed, at 95, the man is almost indefatigable. “I can walk, I can talk and I can see,” he beams in response to my question about his health. “So I must be doing something right!”
It is pretty outstanding for a man who has survived a war injury [he was in the navy during the Second World War], a helicopter crash, a massive stroke, heart surgery to implant a pacemaker, and the replacement of not one but two knees.
He’s in an ebullient mood. His 10th book, I Am Spartacus! Making a Film, Breaking the Blacklist (“the most important book I have ever written”), with its foreword by George Clooney, has just been published and is receiving tremendous acclaim.
In it, he writes of the making of the classic film, in which he starred with Tony Curtis and Laurence Olivier. He produced the film against the sinister backdrop of the most infamous period in America’s history. It was more than 50 years ago but Douglas sharply recalls the events that transpired during the shameful period of the McCarthy witch-hunt.
“There was a pall over the whole country,” the actor remembers. “The House Committee on Un-American Activities was searching for communists who they thought would bring down our government. They especially accused people in the movies. Particularly the writers. It was an awful situation in Hollywood because it became a blacklist.”
Douglas sighs heavily. “The studios then signed an agreement not to employ the blacklisted writers. That was terrible, because then they couldn’t make a living. Many fled to Europe. Some remained here, but had to write under a pseudonym.”
Ten writers (“the Hollywood Ten”) went to jail for refusing to testify or admit any communist affiliation. Others who refused to name names saw their careers destroyed. And those who sought to employ a “front” (a blacklisted worker sheltering behind a pseudonym) faced being ostracised themselves if discovered.
“Everybody was frightened,” Kirk recalls painfully. “Everybody was accused of being a communist. And to prove that they weren’t, they were pressured to name others who were. Friends turned against friends. It was hateful. Some committed suicide; people suffered terribly.”
In 1960, 13 years after the witch-hunt had begun, one man found the courage to give the first screen credit received by anyone on the blacklist. That man was Kirk Douglas. It could have ended his career; instead, it ended the blacklist.
He had so fervently wanted to make Spartacus that he formed his own production company – named Bryna, after his mother – which his wife still runs today. He was one of the first actors to become an independent producer. His friend, Burt Lancaster, with whom he made seven movies, was another.
Douglas’s parents were illiterate Russian Jews who had emigrated to New York and settled in the small town of Amsterdam. There, surrounded by his six sisters, the young Kirk – who was born Issur Danielovitch – dreamed of becoming an actor. A scholarship from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts moved him closer to his dream, and he made his Broadway debut in 1940 as a singing telegram boy in Spring Again. At that time, he had no interest in being in movies.
“I never had any desire to be a film actor,” he told me some years ago. “I never thought I was the good-looking movie type, which I assumed they wanted. All of my training through college and dramatic school was so that I could become an actor on the stage.”
Despite his preference for theatre, in 1946 he landed his first movie – the classic film noir The Strange Love of Martha Ivers. For more than 50 years he was one of Hollywood’s most successful actors, and many of his films have become classics, among them Gunfight at the OK Corral, Lonely Are the Brave (his favourite) and Cast a Giant Shadow. He has won three Academy Award nominations – and though he has never won an Oscar for his acting, Steven Spielberg presented him with an honorary award in 1996.
“Acting is a youthful profession,” he reflects now, as the midday sun starts to pour through the living room windows. “All children are natural actors, and I’m still a kid. If you grow up completely, you can never be an actor.”
Married twice, his first wife was actress Diana Dill, the mother of his sons Michael and Joel. The marriage lasted seven years, but their friendship has endured to this day. His second marriage, to German-born Anne Buydens, led to two more sons, Eric and Peter. In 2004, Eric died from an accidental overdose, which was a devastating loss that is still agonising for Kirk, who visits his son’s grave every week.
After the massive stroke that rendered him speechless in 1996, Kirk suffered a terrible depression – which, he has said, led him to the point of holding a gun to his head before he concluded that suicide was too selfish an act.
Indeed, he has faced adversity with a stubborn refusal to accede and finds writing cathartic. After surviving a catastrophic helicopter accident that killed two people, he wrote a second memoir, Climbing the Mountain, in 1997. (His first was The Ragman’s Son in 1988). After his stroke, he wrote yet another, A Stroke Of Luck, and in 2002 recovered sufficiently to make another film, in which he played a stroke victim. His resilience has been inspiring, and he’s found himself the poster boy for stroke victims around the world.
Being the patriarch of a dynasty comprised of four sons and seven grandchildren has not been easy for Douglas, who has experienced more than his fair share of tragedy in recent years. Five years after Eric’s death, he saw grandson Cameron (from Michael Douglas’s first marriage) sentenced to five years’ imprisonment for dealing and possessing drugs. Less than a year later, Michael, 67, was diagnosed with throat cancer. Kirk was stricken and immediately flew to New York to be by his oldest son’s side.
Following intensive treatment, Michael announced his cancer to be in remission and is now back at work, currently filming the biopic Liberace in Las Vegas with Matt Damon.
Kirk is thrilled that Michael is working nearby, and he’s getting a kick out of “my favourite actor” playing such an out-of-character role as the dazzling, flamboyantly camp pianist. “I think he will be wonderful,” he chuckles at the thought. “It’s a big challenge for him but he will succeed. I know it.”
Filming on the west coast has meant Douglas has been able to see more than usual of Michael, wife Catherine Zeta-Jones and their children Dylan, 12, and Carys, nine, who are normally based in New York. At weekends, it’s one big gathering of the Douglas clan at Kirk’s house just outside Santa Barbara, where his youngest son, Peter, lives with wife Lisa and their four children, aged eight to 19.
All of Kirk’s sons have been involved in film production. But their work doesn’t stop there. Peter also runs the Douglas Foundation, a charitable organisation that has just given $50,000 to the Motion Picture and Television Home for retired actors through their Alzheimer’s division (named Harry’s Haven after Kirk’s father).
“I think being generous is selfish,” reflects Douglas. “Because it makes you feel so good to help other people.
“Some years ago my wife made me sell some famous paintings that we had – Picasso, Miro and so on – to support a campaign to fix all the playgrounds in the schools of Los Angeles. And after 10 years she’s finished the work, in over 400 schools. After that, she established the Anne Douglas Centre for Homeless Women, where she takes women off the street who are homeless and prostitutes, and changes their lives.”
Helping others less fortunate is an example set for him by his mother and it’s one that he hopes to inculcate in his grandchildren. “She influenced me enormously because even though we were very poor, she insisted on giving to others who had even less than we did. I’ve tried to pass that message on to the kids.”
In 1988, Kirk was awarded the highest civilian award in America, the Medal of Freedom, for his humanitarian efforts as an unofficial US ambassador around the world. He’s proud to see Michael following in his footsteps. For almost 25 years, he’s been working as an ambassador for the United Nations, as one of their “Messengers of Peace”.
“I never tried to encourage him to be an actor,” says Kirk. “In fact I tried to discourage him. But I admire him more because he’s a real humanitarian. I admire him for what he does and I’ve been surprised at how hard he works. All my sons have worked hard, and I’m very proud of them. I’ve been very blessed.”
Any regrets, I ask. He answers slowly and softly. “I’m 95 years old. I don’t have much time to look ahead; instead, I look backwards and think of all the mistakes I might have made, what I did and where I could have done better. And I think a lot about my children. I feel sorry because I don’t think that the world is a much better place than when I was a kid. I don’t think we did such a good job, and I hope that they will do a better one.”
Douglas’s personal tragedies and near-death experiences have led to a quest for greater self-awareness. Once notorious for his arrogance and ego (which nevertheless had propelled him to superstardom and business success), he found himself mellowing and learnt humility. It brought him back to his abandoned faith and he grew closer to Judaism, which he had neglected for most of his life.
He has always had a vociferous political voice. Never afraid to speak his mind, he’s put it to good use, now using social media to get his messages across – berating the lack of good teachers in his MySpace blog (he’s the oldest celebrity blogger on the internet), and urging the youth of America to stand up and make changes. They are, he reminds them, the hope of the future.
Concerned about the state of affairs in America today, he nevertheless expresses confidence and optimism that President Obama will handle them if he gets re-elected. “I think he has done a good job under adverse conditions,” he says. “And I think he’s ready to do much more.”
“Democracy is fragile,” Douglas continues quietly. “There will always be incidents that work against us. But I have faith because I am a part of what democracy is. My parents were Russian peasants. They didn’t go to school, but because they took the ship to this country I had a chance to work my way through college, I had a chance to go into the field I wanted to go into. Everyone has a chance. Everybody here can be a movie star or a millionaire.”
He became both but that’s not what fulfils him. He defines happiness as giving to other people, the pleasure he gleans from his sons and especially his 58-year marriage to Anne. Time hasn’t dimmed their feelings for each other. “We’re just two people who love each other,” he says softly.
He may have retired from acting but don’t expect him to take it easy. When he’s not with his trainer or speech therapist, he’s writing. There have been 10 books, six of them autobiographical. He’s also written three novels and a children’s book. And he’s not done yet. There’s a new memoir in the works – Fragments of Memory.
Beyond that, he’s not looking ahead. Savouring each day is Kirk Douglas’s greatest pleasure. “At 95,” he chuckles, “I don’t have the need to prove anything to myself any more.”
'Elephant Room' Tricksters Conjure Zany Sparts
- Created on Monday, 03 September 2012
- Written by Charles McNulty
--August 27, 012 Los Angeles Times
Don't let the retro styling fool you. Although they look like comic extra rejects from a '70s variety show with some heavy metal updating, the magician-trickster-funny-men of "Elephant Room" are goofy originals, very much of our makeshift moment.
No point in trying to categorize the show, which opened Sunday at the Kirk Douglas Theatre. Created by Trey Lyford, Geoff Sobelle and Steve Cuiffo, the entire production is a sleight of hand. With a smattering of magic, sketch comedy and cat-and-mouse with the audience, the trio of performers, working under the aliases Daryl Hannah, Dennis Diamond and Louie Magic, foster the illusion of a complete theatrical offering.
They succeed by the seat of their pants, which is to say through their collective free-form wits, recognizing that the only definition of theater that matters is the one that begins with giving pleasure to an audience.
Yes, there are fuzzy patches, in which the setup exceeds the payoff. A good deal of stage time is devoted to scrambling. The awkward transitions of this hybrid concoction are smoothed over by the direction of Paul Lazar, co-founder of Big Dance Theater, who doesn't so much stage "Elephant Room" as choreograph it to musical selections befitting ragtag pop cultural clowns. But the structure of the show is no more solid than freshly whipped up jello.
The men behind this funky little experiment are in direct line with their commedia dell'arte forebears. Their shtick isn't exactly stock. The only thing recycled here is their vintage clothing chosen by costume designer Christal Weatherly and the basement furniture of their Elephant Room Society club room, ostensibly carted across the country from their Paterson, N.J., headquarters and artfully arrayed by set designer Mimi Lien. Yet the sparks they generate from loose scenarios, scripted but with an improvisational freedom, hark back to the zany crowd-drawing antics of Renaissance Italy.
As talented as they are fraudulent, these huckster virtuosos are waiting for their big "This Is Spinal Tap" close-up. In the meantime, they have plenty of merchandise to hawk — T-shirts, baseball hats and other overpriced souvenirs on sale in the lobby, as their extended midshow commercial break humorously itemizes.
The magic portion of "Elephant Room" includes preparing an omelet, which might seem rather unmagical until you get a glimpse of how they slice, dice and fry. A very long balloon gets swallowed without any gagging. Milk is conjured from objects all across the set and a milk mustache appears and vanishes with a wave of the hand. Mind-reading almost astounds us.
The comedy bits include a pretend late-night phone call between Diamond and the Dalai Lama, with Diamond looking from certain angles like a missing member of the Village People and speaking in the smitten tones of a long-distance lover. A recruit from the audience is brought onstage for a first-date with Hannah. Physical comedy of a sub-slapstick kind is trotted out.
A tourniquet scene fizzles and the show could use, to rephrase Hamlet's mother's rebuke of Polonius, less patter with more art. But uniqueness in the theater is a rare commodity, and these guys are in possession of a patented, mood-brightening silliness.
Where: Kirk Douglas Theatre, 9820 Washington Blvd., Culver City
When: 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sundays. (Call for exceptions.) Ends Sept. 16
Price: $20 to $50 (subject to change)
Contact: (213) 628-2772 or http://www.centertheatregroup.org/ElephantRoom
Running time: 75 minutes without an intermission
American Cinematheque Honors Kirk Douglas in September
- Created on Friday, 24 August 2012
- Written by Susan King
--Los Angeles Times, August 20, 2012
In his career, the legendary Kirk Douglas earned three Oscar nominations, received an honorary Oscar, survived a stroke, did a one-man stage show at 92 and helped break the blacklist. Douglas and his famously cleft chin are still going strong at 95.
The American Cinematheque's Egyptian Theatre is honoring him Sept. 19 through 23 with the retrospective "Paths of Glory: An In-Person Tribute to Kirk Douglas."
The Times' Geoff Boucher will be interviewing the actor-producer Sept. 19 at the 50th-anniversary screening of Douglas' favorite film, the haunting modern-day western "Lonely are the Brave," penned by Dalton Trumbo and directed by David Miller.
Billy Wilder's dark 1951 drama "Ace in the Hole," which casts Douglas as an unscrupulous reporter, screens Sept. 20, with Stanley Kubrick's uncompromising 1957 anti-war film,"Paths of Glory."
Douglas earned two of his three best actor nominations in Vincente Minelli movies, both of which are screening Sept. 21 — 1952's "The Bad and the Beautiful," in which Douglas plays a ruthless Hollywood producer, and 1956's "Lust for Life," in which he embodies the role of painter Vincent Van Gogh.
The Egyptian screens a digital print Sept. 22 of the 1960 epic "Spartacus," directed by Kubrick and penned by Trumbo. Douglas broke the blacklist by getting Trumbo screen credit.
The festival concludes Sept. 23 with a late-afternoon screening of Walt Disney's 1954 blockbuster "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea," based on the novel by Jules Verne.