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.
Spartacus: the history, the book, the movie.
- Created on Saturday, 01 December 2018
- Written by Willow Arune
--Prince George Citizen November 17, 2018
The story of Spartacus has become known throughout the world.
Spartacus was from Thrace, now the northeastern part of Greece, and born in the early part of the first century BC. After deserting from the Roman Legions, he was captured and sold as a slave. Given his strength and fighting prowess, he was sent to a training school for gladiators near Naples. At some time during the training, Spartacus led the other gladiators in a revolt against their owner, captured sufficient arms and armour for his small band, and encamped on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius. As other slaves joined up, he, along with two others, were elected leaders.
In what historians call the Third Servile War, Spartacus defeated a Roman Army sent to put down the revolt. Another army was sent out from Rome and it too was defeated. Word of the revolt spread and other slaves and peasants flocked to join. All in all, Spartacus' army swelled to an estimated 70,000. After a winter pause, the Romans sent another army to end the revolt. After an initial success, they too were defeated and Spartacus turned his army north, towards Rome itself.
The threat to Rome was real. Forty thousand troops were mustered to fend off the rebels. Part of this force was defeated but Spartacus was forced to turn south. When he and his army arrived in southern Italy he decided to start a further revolt in Sicily and made a bargain with some local pirates to move part of his force to the island. The pirates took his money but refused to sail. The rebel force was now trapped - the Roman army on one side and the Mediterranean on the other. Mobility was gone, the rebels under siege.
Suffice to say, the army of slaves and peasants was not up to this kind of warfare. One group after another fled. Finally, Spartacus launched an attack and was soundly defeated. He was killed in the final battle. Those captured and not killed - over 6,000 of them - were crucified along the Appian Way, the road that led to Rome.
The story of Spartacus is contained in several Roman histories written at the time and has long been used as a tale of rising against oppression.
Howard Fast was a successful American novelist. Starting in 1933, he produced many wonderful historical novels, most based on American history. Conceived in Liberty, The Last Frontier, Citizen Tom Paine', and Freedom Road were only a few of the well-written and very popular Fast books. But Fast had been a self-acknowledged member of the Communist Party in the U.S. and was summoned to testify before Senator Joe McCarthy and his House Committee on Un-American Activities in 1950.
Asked to name those who contributed to a fund for orphans of parents who died in the Spanish Civil War, he refused. Fast was sentenced to three months in prison for contempt of court and blacklisted by publishers. That meant even though his books had been very patriotic and popular, no publisher would dare publish any book written by him as the Red Scare swept America. It was a time of witch-hunts and civil rights abuse. To express any politically left-wing thought was to risk termination from any job, public or private, with little chance of getting another. McCarthy made Hollywood a special target for his many accusations.
In his later autobiography Being Red, Fast wrote of his experiences during these dark days. Again and again publishers would refuse to even consider any book or even any article written by him. As a way of expressing his turmoil in what he hoped would be a manner acceptable notwithstanding the blacklist, he seized upon the tale of Spartacus. He "brooded" about the book while serving his prison sentence, writing it after his release. Denied a passport, he could not visit Italy and had to rely on travel books on the country to describe where the events took place. It was submitted to publisher after publisher. J. Edgar Hoover, head of the FBI, had told publishers not to print anything written by Fast no matter how good it might be. While many editors praised the book privately, none would dare to publish a book written by a blacklisted author. =Nor would any bookstore dare to sell such a book even if it was published. =The blacklist was a powerful force in the early 1950s.
Although funds were tight, Fast and his wife were determined that his new novel would reach the public. They had a flyer prepared and distributed that by mail or in any place that would permit them - bookstores, coffee shops, drug stores, five and dimes, anywhere. The book was offered for $2.50 and would be mailed to any purchaser directly by Fast. Five thousand copies were privately published and sales went through the roof. In short order, the book was reprinted seven times in four months as sales soared. Each was marked "PUBLISHED BY THE AUTHOR, BOX 171 PLANTARIUM STATION, NEW YORK CITY". It was not until 1958 when Crown Publishers would take the book to the general public.
One of those who bought a copy was the actor Kirk Douglas (the father of Michael Douglas). Knowing how difficult it would be to produce, Douglas personally bought the screen rights from Fast and hired Dalton Trumbo, a blacklisted screenwriter, to write the screenplay. Like Fast, the screenwriter had served time in jail for his views and had been forced to write under assumed names to survive (he had written the screenplay for the film Exodus under an assumed name). Douglas insisted that he be given full credit for the movie. In those troubled times that was risky. No studio would consider distributing the film until Douglas presented Universal with signed contracts with major film actors of the times - Curtis, Ustinov, Simmons, Olivier, and Laughton - each of whom had agreed to perform in the film at some considerable risk. A blacklisted composer, Alex North, was hired to develop the soundtrack music using an odd assortment of ancient instruments. The movie opened on Oct. 7, 1960.
Upon release, the film Spartacus drew big audiences but was also picketed by those who regarded it as yet another "Red" movie from Communist Hollywood. Then President-elect J. F. Kennedy crossed a picket line to see the picture (of course, many of those manning the picket lines thought Kennedy was a Communist too). At the Oscars, Spartacus received six nominations and won four. In following years, the original film was reissued with substantial additional scenes that had been cut from the released version.
When Crown Publishers reissued the book and Universal released the movie, blacklisting was effectively over. The movie is even today rated amongst the best ever made, the book remains in publication, and a TV series, an animated version, a sequel (Son of Spartacus), and a ballet by Khachaturian have followed.
Michael Douglas Tears Up Over Dad Kirk, 101, at Walk of Fame Ceremony: 'So Proud to Be Your Son'
- Created on Thursday, 08 November 2018
- Written by Scott Huver
--People November 6, 2018
Michael Douglas joined Hollywood royalty with his proud dad Kirk Douglas closely watching.
Michael was inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Tuesday with his very own star after almost 50 years in the industry. The moment was made more special by the presence of his 101-year-old dad and legendary actor Kirk Douglas, who also has his own star on the Walk of Fame.
Michael, 74, thanked his dad for attending his ceremony and grew emotional while speaking about him.
“It means so much to me, Dad, that you’re here today,” he said tearing up. “Thank you for your advice, inspiration, and I’ll say it simply and with all my heart: I’m so proud to be your son.”
Also along for the honor was Michael’s wife of 18 years Catherine Zeta-Jones, who excitedly posted several videos on her Instagram before the big moment.
“We’re in the car, and someone is getting a Hollywood star on the Walk of Fame, and that is my hubby, Michael Douglas,” the proud wife says in the adorable video as a quiet Michael smiles and points at himself.
The actress, 49, also shared a sweet video of Kirk and Michael arriving at the ceremony, with Kirk smiling wide as Michael stands close to his dad.
The family has had reason to celebrate lately. Aside from Kirk nearing his 102nd birthday next month, Michael also welcomed his first grandchild last year when his oldest son Cameron had daughter Lua Izzy with girlfriend Viviene Thibes. Cameron, 39, also attended his dad’s ceremony and posted a sweet video on his Instagram story where he wrote, “Congrats dad!”
Also on hand to witness the ceremony was Eric McCormack (Douglas introduced the Will and Grace star when the latter recently received his own star on the Walk of Fame), Douglas’ Black Rain costar Andy Garcia and Ant-Man director Peyton Reed.
Douglas was last seen in the summer blockbuster, Ant-Man and the Wasp. His new Netflix series The Kominsky Method begins streaming Nov. 16.
Joachim Ronneberg, saboteur who crippled Nazi atomic bomb project, dies at 99
- Created on Tuesday, 23 October 2018
- Written by Harrison Smith
--Washington Post October 22, 2018
The plan was audacious, requiring a midnight parachute jump onto a snow-covered mountain plateau, cross-country skiing in subzero temperatures, and an assault on an isolated, heavily guarded power plant in southern Norway.
And the stakes, though no one in the five-man commando team knew it at the time, were spectacular: destroy the Nazis’ sole source of heavy water, a recently discovered substance that Hitler’s scientists were using to try to develop an atomic bomb, or risk the creation of a superweapon that could secure a German victory in World War II.
“We didn’t think about whether it was dangerous or not,” Joachim Ronneberg, the 23-year-old Norwegian resistance fighter charged with leading the mission, later told Britain’s Telegraph newspaper. “We didn’t think about our retreat. The most important decision you made during the whole war was the day you decided to leave Norway to report for duty. You concentrated on the job and not on the risks.”
Mr. Ronneberg went on to land a crippling blow against Nazi Germany’s atomic ambitions, blowing up much of the plant and destroying its heavy-water stockpile without firing a shot or losing a man. He was 99, and the last of Norway’s celebrated heavy-water saboteurs, when he died Oct. 21, according to the state-owned broadcaster NRK, which confirmed the death but did not provide additional details.
“Ronneberg is one of the great heroes of Norwegian war history,” Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg told the media company after his death. In 2015, British military historian M.R.D. Foot told the New York Times that Mr. Ronneberg’s mission “changed the course of the war” and deserved the “gratitude of humanity.”
While historians have argued over how close the Nazis came to developing an atomic bomb, and over what prevented them from succeeding, German officials at the time seemed to agree that Mr. Ronneberg’s actions were pivotal. After visiting the damaged heavy-water plant, Nikolaus von Falkenhorst, the Nazi general overseeing occupied Norway, was said to have declared, “This is the most splendid coup I have seen in this war.”
Yet even as Mr. Ronneberg’s exploits were chronicled in books, television series and movies such as “The Heroes of Telemark,” a popular 1965 film starring Kirk Douglas and Richard Harris, Mr. Ronneberg resisted being glorified as a war hero. “There were so many things that were just luck and chance,” he told the Times. “There was no plan. We were just hoping for the best.”
Raised by a prominent Norwegian family in the port town of Alesund, he was born Joachim Holmboe Ronneberg on Aug. 30, 1919, and was working for a fish export company when Germany invaded in April 1940. With a few friends, he fled to Britain aboard a fishing boat and linked up with the Special Operation Executive, a wartime espionage unit that Winston Churchill dubbed his “Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare.”
Mr. Ronneberg studied the dark arts of sabotage, including how to lay a bomb, fire a weapon and kill a man with his bare hands, before serving as an instructor for recruits in Norwegian Independent Company 1, an SOE unit sometimes known as Kompani Linge.
His rise through the organization occurred as Allied forces received reports that the Nazis were increasing cold-water production at Vemork, an industrial facility and hydroelectric power plant — once the world’s largest — built by Norsk Hydro in the Telemark region of southern Norway.
The plant was already the world’s leading commercial supplier of heavy water, a moderator, or medium, that German scientists were using to try to produce weapons-grade plutonium for an atomic bomb. It proved less effective than graphite, which their American rivals working on the Manhattan Project used to create the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.
By the time Mr. Ronneberg was enlisted to lead Operation Gunnerside, the mission to destroy the plant, 41 men had already died in a November 1942 raid dubbed Operation Freshman, in which a pair of gliders crashed in bad weather in Norway. The survivors were executed by the Nazis.
Rather than risk another glider mishap, Mr. Ronneberg and the four commandos he selected for the mission parachuted into Norway in February 1943. They landed in the wrong location, but waited out a snowstorm inside a cabin and met up with four local fighters in Hardangervidda, a desolate plateau northwest of the plant.
The group reached Vemork the night of Feb. 27, after scrambling down a steep gorge, crossing a frozen river and climbing up the far side to avoid a bridge guarded by the Nazis. Timing his infiltration of the plant to match a changing of the guard, Mr. Ronneberg said he was able to gain entry undetected, quickly and quietly breaking through a chain on the gate, only with help from a pair of heavy-duty metal cutters. He had purchased them in Britain “entirely by chance,” he said, after walking by a hardware store during a trip to the movies.
Drawing on intelligence from a Norwegian escapee who had worked at the plant, Mr. Ronneberg crawled through a ventilation duct and found his target — a row of pipes — without understanding its significance as a source for a mysterious new weapon in Germany.
The charges, he later said, “fitted like a hand in a glove,” and in a last-minute change he trimmed the fuse, causing the explosion to go off in about 30 seconds, rather than two minutes, so that he and his team could ensure it went off — and, he hoped, escape the facility without being caught in the explosion.
“It was a mackerel sky. It was a marvelous sunrise,” Mr. Ronneberg later told the Telegraph, recalling the moment hours later when he and his team had returned to the mountains, safely out of reach of Nazi guards. “We sat there very tired, very happy. Nobody said anything. That was a very special moment.”
Mr. Ronneberg and his fellow commandos skied 200 miles across southern Norway, escaping into neutral Sweden before returning to Britain.
He went on to lead Operation Fieldfare, an effort to break German supply lines in Norway by damaging bridges and railroads, and Allied forces continued to monitor Vemork. The plant was repaired after several months, leading U.S. planes to bomb the heavy-water factory later in 1943.
When the Nazis decided to move their supply of heavy water to Germany in 1944, one of Mr. Ronneberg’s fellow commandos, Knut Haukelid, led a successful operation to sink the Hydro, a Norwegian ferry carrying the substance, while it was traveling across Lake Tinn.
Mr. Ronneberg received Norway’s highest military honor, the War Cross With Sword, and was awarded the Distinguished Service Order in Britain. He returned to his hometown of Alesund after the war, and worked as an editor at NRK before retiring in 1987, according to the broadcasting company.
He married Liv Foldal in 1949. A complete list of survivors was not immediately available.
Mr. Ronneberg began speaking about his experiences as a resistance fighter only in recent years. His story, he told the Telegraph, had lessons for politicians and ordinary civilians even today. “A few years ago,” he said, “I realized that I am part of history. Having been more or less silent for years, now I realize it is important and quite natural for people to ask about the past so they can plan for the future. People must realize that peace and freedom have to be fought for every day.”