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' New Memoir

--7/24/12 Liz Smith in the Huffington Post

Kirk Douglas' Juicy And Informative New Memoir On How An Epic--And An End To Blacklisting--Came To Be

 

"DEAR LIZ, I am not Spartacus! I'm your friend. Many pleasant memories. With affection, Kirk." That is what is inscribed on the opening page of Kirk Douglas' hugely entertaining new book, "I Am Spartacus! Making a Film, Breaking the Blacklist." Now, even if Kirk hadn't autographed his book so sweetly, I would have read it. But the note propelled me to finish it in one day.

  • IN THE introduction to his memoir about this great film, Kirk says: "I am not a political activist. When I produced 'Spartacus" in 1959, I was trying to make the best movie I could make, not a political statement." But aside from creating art (with the help of a young director named Stanley Kubrick) Kirk did become a political activist. He went out and hired the person he considered the best man to write the massive script-- Dalton Trumbo, blacklisted from Hollywood after the McCarthy witchunts, which looked for Communists under every blade of grass. Not only was Trumbo banned, he had suffered jail time. He could not work in Hollywood under his own name, and if it was known he was writing a script, an entire production could collapse. With this ugly cloud still dark, Kirk Douglas enlisted Trumbo to pen the screenplay for "Spartacus," under the writer's latest pseudonym, "Sam Jackson."
  • THIS WOULD have been enough, the tale of Trumbo. But "I Am Sparactus" covers every aspect of the epic from its gestation to premiere. Let's put it this way. Making movies can be profitable, but mostly not much fun. For one thing, Kubrick was not the film's first director. Anthony Mann accepted the job, his work was deemed not up to snuff and he was ousted in favor of Kubrick, whose "confidence bordered on arrogance" admits Kirk. Douglas includes everything we'd want to know, including the fact that he really needed "Spartacus" to be a hit, because he'd just found out--through the wise investigating of his wife, Anne Buydens--that his longtime manager and friend had swindled him big-time. (Anne, by the way, is a constant source of Kirk's inspiration, a calming influence, a strong woman with the patience of Penelope, loving but not naïve. A partner in every way. He concludes her contributions to this project with "Anne was 'Spartacus.")

    The movie would star Laurence Olivier, Charles Laughton, Peter Ustinov, Tony Curtis and the ravishing Jean Simmons. Kirk, of course, was Spartacus, the rebellious slave/gladiator who actually made Rome tremble for a year or two.

    What juicy fun is found in Kirk's memories of trying to pin down his cast, the various adventures and trials each put him through. The shock of dining with Olivier and Vivien Leigh, when she suddenly interrupted a charming dinner with "Larry, why don't you f*ck me anymore?" (Leigh's mental health was in steep decline at this point) ... how Tony Curtis nailed a role in the movie--though there was no part written for him, so he could get his way out of his detested Universal contract...Charles Laughton's imperious first critique of the script--"this is shit," his refusal to accept his role, and then a sudden reversal. This was Laughton's pattern, Kirk would learn...reluctantly testing his former flame Gene Tierney, for the vital
    role of the slave girl who loves Spartacus, and seeing instantly that her emotional problems had robbed her of her former charisma. Kirk would suffer a great deal when he eventually had to tell Gene she did not get the part.

    Kirk would suffer even more after hiring a beautiful German girl, Sabine Bethmann, as the female lead. She learned English, but couldn't act. Kubrick fired her, much to her shock (her appearance had already been widely publicized.) Douglas was then compelled to hire Jean Simmons, whom he didn't want originally because of her British accent. Kirk's divinely pragmatic Anne, said with exasperation, "What does her accent matter if she can act?!" Of course, Jean turned out to be the perfect choice.

  • THERE WERE illnesses and breakdowns, temper tantrums, the witty, if exhausting, off-screen interplay between Ustinov and Laughton. Jean Simmons would not take her bra off in a crucial scene in a lake. (After Kirk persuaded her, Simmons said, "I have a feeling you know a lot about getting women to take their bras off.") Always, there were wild budget problems and above all, the specter of what would happen to "Spartacus" if it became common knowledge that Dalton Trumbo was working on it. Though the witchunts were over, some of the witchy hunters--Winchell, Hedda Hopper, etc.--still had the power to destroy a film, even a project as major as this one. Yet in the end, Kirk decided that once the film was in the can, he was going to tell Universal that "Sam Jackson" was Dalton Trumbo, and that Trumbo alone would receive screen credit as the sole writer. (The wise Anne had said to Kirk shortly before his decision, "Doesn't everybody already know he's writing it?")


    After that, things still don't improve stress-wise. Kirk Douglas has to hear the four most terrible words a producer can hear, in the wake of a first screening. After a long silence in a crowded room, somebody pipes up, "The music will help."

    There were re-takes, revisions, a brilliant 78-page manifesto/critique from Kubrick on why the film was great, and where it was failing. Arguments over certain scenes, clashes between director and producer, stress, stress, stress. In the end, Kirk was not crucified, as Spartacus was.

    His film was a huge hit, and it broke the back finally, of the blacklist. (Five years later, Trumbo wrote the script of the Elizabeth Taylor/Richard Burton movie "The Sandpiper." Hedda Hopper, a year away from her death, attended. When Trumbo's name appeared on screen she began to audibly complain. Miss Taylor turned in her seat and said, "Hedda, why don't you just shut the fuck up.") I know it seems I've told a lot, but believe me, there's much, much more!

  • KIRK SAYS if he'd been a bit older when he made "Spartacus" he might not have hired Trumbo, he might not have had the courage. Maybe, but I kind of doubt it. Kirk Douglas is a man of honor, a truthful man who has admitted his own personal failings and his reflections on mellowing in previous books. His strength in the face of his stroke and the inevitable encroachments of age have been epic, inspiring. "Perhaps it is possible to outlive your anger. I think I have" he muses here.

    George Clooney has written the foreword to "I Am Spartacus!" He says: "Kirk Douglas is many things. A movie star. An actor. A producer. But he is first and foremost, a man of extraordinary character. The kind that is formed when the stakes are high. The kind we look for in our darkest hour."

RADIATE at the Kirk Douglas Theatre

From Broadway World - July 11, 2012

Tickets are on sale now for “Radiate” featuring Jomama Jones the Kirk Douglas Theatre.  The off-Broadway smash hit show is coming to Los Angeles for two nights only in a workshop presentation as part of DouglasPlus programming, on August 3 and 4, 2012, at 8 p.m.Conceived by Daniel Alexander Jones with Bobby Halvorson, “Radiate” is an intimate concert – part happening, part revival – in which the performance artist Daniel Alexander Jones embodies the soul singer Jomama Jones on her American comeback tour. 


Jones performs songs from her fictional CDs “Lone Star,” “Radiate” and the forthcoming “Six Ways Home,” while sharing tales from her life-journey and her surprising observations of the America to which she has returned. The New York Times said, “‘Radiate’ glows . . . making it hard to resist this sequined earth-mother’s soulful embrace.”

 For the DouglasPlus workshop, Jones will change the focus of the script to make it a Los Angeles concert version. “Radiate” received a CTG Completion Commission, which is an award given to projects that have begun development but need additional support to be completed. The Completion Commissions are made by possible by a multi-year grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

 Tickets for “Radiate” are available by calling (213) 628-2772, online at www.CenterTheatreGroup.org, in person at the Center Theatre Group box office at the Ahmanson Theatre or two hours prior to performances at the Kirk Douglas Theatre box office. The Kirk Douglas Theatre is located at 9820 Washington Blvd., Culver City, CA 90232.


Person of the Week: Kirk Douglas on Helping to Break Blacklist

ABC World News with Diane Sawyer broadcast a "Person of the Week" interview by David Muir of Kirk Douglas on Friday, June 29, 2012. Here is an article about the interview written by David Muir. For a video clip of the interview itself, please go to: http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2012/06/kirk-douglas-on-helping-to-break-blacklist/

 

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Image Credit: Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

The year was 1960, and Kirk Douglas was staring as Spartacus, but all these years later, it is the role he was secretly playing that he’s now most proud of.

Douglas, 95, survived a stroke a few years back and even though his speech is a little shaky he is more than eager to reveal a story he waited decades to tell in his new book “I am Spartacus!

ht kirk douglas i am spartacus book jt 120630 wblog Person of the Week Kirk Douglas on Helping to Break Blacklist

Open Road Integrated Media

In the 1950s, Hollywood was consumed by the blacklist. Writers, producers and actors were called before Congress amid fear they might be Communists. The mere mention of a name was enough to end a career.

“It was the worst time in Hollywood,” Douglas told ABC News. “Everybody told me I was crazy.”

Crazy because as a producer of “Spartacus,” Douglas put his own career on the line, his own fortune, to hire Dalton Trumbo, one of those writers on the blacklist.

Trumbo had been hiding in Hollywood under an assumed name. Douglas’ wife, Anne Buydens, remembered the warnings.

“If you do it … you’ll never work in this town again. You will be declared a Communist,” Buydens said people told Douglas.

But Douglas hired Dalton Trumbo anyway, and “Spartacus” became the top movie.

Even President Kennedy went to see it. The movie wasn’t only a box-office winner, it was also instrumental in breaking the blacklist.

 

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.