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 Comments on Megan Morey Interview

In my 95 years I've had many, many interviews.  On April 4, Megan Morey, 13 years old, the daughter of my wife's assistant, interviewed me.  Here is the result.  I think it's much better than many interviews I have received in the past.

KIRK DOUGLAS INTERVIEW BY MEGAN MOREY

Kirk Douglas is a legendary movie star.  He has starred in almost 90 movies including Spartacus and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.  As well as being in movies he has also been on Broadway.  He is currently living in Beverly Hills with his wife Anne Douglas.

Rejection

Before I started asking my questions he told me that he has always discouraged his sons from getting into acting.  With his son Michael Douglas, it obviously didn’t work so well.  He said he did this because it is a business filled with rejection, and they aren’t just rejecting something you wrote or did, they are rejecting you.  He said that some people say that “actors are people who like rejection.”

First Inspiration

I asked him when he first realized he wanted to go into theater, and he said it all started in the 2nd grade when he was in a school play.  He played a shoemaker who at night would go to sleep, and then the elves would come and do the work.  He said when he finished everyone applauded and he loved the sound.  “I have been searching for that sound ever since.”

First Job

After he graduated college he studied at a Dramatic Arts academy, where many other successful actors like Katharine Hepburn have studied, for two years.  His first job on Broadway was an offstage echo.  He had originally auditioned for the part of the soldier, but they gave the part to someone else.  His only line was when the soldier, the part he was denied, is saying goodbye to the trees and he says “yo ho!” and then Mr.Douglas would echo from offstage “yo ho”.  In another play he came in at the end of the second act as a singing telegram.

Audition Story

I asked him about his auditions and he told me his favorite audition story.  He was working on Kiss and Tell when the producer asked him if he could sing.  He said he didn’t know and the producer asked if he could sing loud.  He told him there was an audition for a musical at 3:00 that day and that he should come.  He went and when it was his turn he walked up onto the stage and in the audience was Leonard Bernstein, the writers, the producers, and the leading lady in the play.  They asked him what he was going to sing and he said “I’m Red Hot Henry Brown” only the pianist didn’t know it and he offered to sing it a capella.  They liked it and they gave him the part and another song to practice.  Only the song had a high part that he couldn’t reach.  The whole situation was so stressful he got laryngitis and they gave the part to someone else.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

I asked Mr. Douglas what his biggest role on Broadway was and he said he was in about twelve plays before he started doing movies.  Then when he was a big movie star he decided he wanted to go back on Broadway because his real dream had always been to be a star on the stage.  He bought the rights to a book he liked, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”, and paid someone to write a script for it.  He put it on Broadway and it ran for six months, but was not a big hit.  Then he tried to make it into a movie, but couldn’t get the funding for it.  Then ten years later his son, Michael Douglas, asked if he could do something with the project.  Mr. Douglas didn’t think it would go anywhere since he had failed to make it, but within a year Michael had the funding, the cast, and a director, they made the movie and practically everyone in it won Oscars.  He had thought that he would play his role in it, but he was too old and they gave the part to Jack Nicholson.  Even Mr. Douglas admits that Jack Nicholson was better than he would have been if he had played the part.

Rehearsal Process

I asked him what the rehearsal process was like and he said that after everyone is cast everyone sits in a big room and reads through the script.  This helps everyone get to know the story and their character.  Then they get up on their feet and start blocking scenes.  After that you start memorizing your lines and if you have a scene with another person you practice with them.  “If you have a beautiful co-star you rehearse a lot.”

Atmosphere of the Theatre

I asked what the atmosphere at the theatre is like and he said it’s a big, dark, cavern and it’s actually rather spooky with a single light bulb up on the stage.  “But in the evening, filled with people, it comes to life and becomes a beautiful wonderland of make-believe.”

Responsibilities

I asked him about the main responsibilities of the actors and the director.  He said the actor’s job is to memorize their lines, show up on time, and to perform well.  The director is almost like a father.  While the actors are more concerned with their own characters, the director has to blend it all into a play.  He is a very important element.

Hardest Part

I asked him what the hardest part of putting together a production is and he said that it depends.  If you have good actors, a good director, and a good subject it is easier.  Some actors don’t do well with the nervousness and a lot of them even throw up before performances.  And lots of actors can get overemotional and that makes it difficult as well, but if you succeed you make a lot of money.

Success

I asked him what he thought made a play a success and he said if the people like it it’s a success.  If they don’t it’s a flop.  I asked if he has had any successes and he says that he was in a few successful plays, but he has done very well in the movie business so he can’t really complain.

Favorite Part

As my final question, I asked what his favorite part of putting on a play was and he said that he did it for the applause and for the laughter. He always wanted to see his name up in lights on Broadway and now he has it up in lights here in Hollywood at the Kirk Douglas Theatre.

 

 

'The Convert' at Kirk Douglas Theater

The cast of

Harold Surratt, from left, Warner Joseph Miller, LeRoy McClain, Pascale Armand and Cheryl Lynn Bruce in Danai Gurira's "The Convert." (T. Charles Erickson / April 22, 2012)

Danai Gurira’s new play, “The Convert,” set in the 1890s in what would later become Zimbabwe, tells the story of a young African woman, Jekesai (the stunning, graceful Pascale Armand), who converts to Catholicism to escape an arranged marriage, grows devout and finds herself at the center of a bloody cultural upheaval.

To sum Gurira up efficiently would require more backslashes than a URL. Born in Ohio to African academics, she was raised partly in America and partly in Zimbabwe. She's an Obie-winning playwright ("Eclipsed," "In the Continuum") and an actress both on the stage ("Joe Turner’s Come and Gone" on Broadway) and on TV ("Treme"). Certainly one of the most diverse living showbiz professionals, with her upcoming role in AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” she is poised to conquer the undead too.

Somehow she also found time to write this extraordinarily ambitious play. Commissioned by the Center Theatre Group and co-produced with Princeton, N.J.’s McCarter Theatre Center and Chicago’s Goodman Theatre, where it has already had critically acclaimed runs, "The Convert" has arrived at its final stop, the CTG’s Kirk Douglas Theatre.

It's not frothy entertainment. Although illuminated by gentle humor and warm characterizations, the three-hour-long “Convert” is intense, harrowing and flatteringly demanding. Gurira refuses to condescend to her audience, either in her storytelling — entire scenes are performed in the Shona dialect — or in her moral position, offering no clear-cut villains or heroes. Brought to life by Emily Mann’s subtle direction, a splendid set by Daniel Ostling and a variety of astonishing performances, the play is compelling in spite of an unpersuasive, melodramatic finale.

“The iron claw of colonization is bracing to form a fist over Mashona and Matabeleland of southern Africa in 1896,” begins the playwright’s helpful if portentous program note. And “the white intruders” would be the most obvious candidates for bad guys here — if there were any onstage. Instead, fascinatingly, Gurira has chosen to represent the British only as they are reflected by her seven native characters, who variously embrace, tolerate and reject their colonists’ imposed beliefs.

The action unfolds in the house of black missionary Chilford (LeRoy McClain), who converted to Catholicism as a child and dreams of becoming a priest. He dresses like a Victorian and speaks in an idiosyncratic English peppered with ineptly pretentious exclamations such as “Goodness of graciousness!” and “Be of silence!” He has a position with the British Native Commission, upholstered furniture and a silver tea set. Despite his pomposity, in McClain’s touching portrayal, he is sincere, well-meaning, a bit of a simpleton in his refusal to acknowledge trouble even though converts are “on the dwindle” and his tribesmen have begun to call him bafu (white man’s native, traitor).

Chilford’s housekeeper, Mai Tamba (Cheryl Lynn Bruce), pays lip service to Catholicism to placate him (“Hail Mary, full of ghosts,” she grudgingly intones) and to persuade him to hire her marriage-fleeing niece, Jekesai. (“She want to know about God in hewen too!” she lies, knowing Chilford can’t resist the hope of a convert.) In secret she worships her ancestors and hides pagan amulets around the house as she dusts.

Mai Tamba may seem like pure comic relief in the opening scenes, but she is genuinely upset when Jekesai, whom Chilford renames Ester and trains as his protégée, throws herself wholeheartedly into the new religion. Bruce’s face is worth watching whenever she is watching the others; her eyes harden from cunning to threatening as Ester’s faith increases the tension among her relatives and Chilford’s Anglophile friends.

These roles offer less opportunity for subtlety, and they occasionally feel a bit like mouthpieces for particular historical types. Harold Surratt is funny as Ester’s surly, drunken uncle, and Zainab Jah is vividly entertaining as Prudence, the highly educated, possibly anachronistic fiancée of Chilford’s roguish friend Chancellor (Kevin Mambo). As the plot moves inexorably toward tragedy, the characters grow more and more agitated, especially Ester's cousin, Tamba (Warner Joseph Miller), and Chilford; McClain is obliged to play the final hour and a half through a rictus of bewildered horror, with a chronic sob in his voice. At this point the play belongs to the luminous Armand, who somehow remains fully believable even when Ester’s actions strain credulity.



An Unforgettable Evening: Cancer Research Event

EventNow reports the 15th Annual benefit for EIF’s women’s cancer research fund and we are talking about no other than An Unforgettable Evening gala which was an amazing event for an amazing cause.

Cancer it the number one illness in the world that strikes millions of people’s every year and breast cancer hits thousands of women every day, so this cause was to help funds to assist in research and helping in finding a cure.

The venue that hosted this great event was The Beverly Hilton Hotel and guests like Lisa Kudrow, Rihanna, Lori Loughlin, Martin Short, Sheryl Crow, Rita Wilson, Steven Spielberg, Kirk Douglas, Steve Tyrell, Steve Tisch, Stephanie Murray, Barbara Davis, Amber Valetta, etc. and many others walked the red carpet and posed for their pictures to be taken by the onsite photographers.

The event was amazing and the performances were even better.  The onsite bartending staff was preparing nonstop cocktails according to the guests liking and the wait staff was passing them around along with appetizers that the onsite catering staff had prepared. The onsite catering staff had also prepared a delicious sit down dinner for them to enjoy as the festivities were on their way. The performance was great and how wouldn’t it be when you have a star like Rihanna hit the stage and sing every single piece of her songs that each and every one is a hit single.

One part of the festivities is to honor individuals with their endless fight to find a cure against breast cancer and this year the honor and the award went to singer Sheryl Crow who herself is a cancer survivor and has not stopped to help raise funds to find a cure for this illness and raise awareness.

This event is hosted every year, so we cannot wait for another year to pass by and see how all of it will take place next year.

20,000 Leagues at TCM Classic Film Festival

There’s truly no place quite like Hollywood. For the third straight year, the TCM Classic Film Festival was staged in the historic center of the world’s film industry. The event once again united a great community of film fans. The 2012 event celebrated style in the movies, from fashion to architecture and everything in between and lined up great films, terrific guests and many special events.

There were so many classic films to choose from over the 4-day festival, it was nearly impossible to decide what to see! Here are a few of my favorites from the weekend.

 

Legendary actor Kirk Douglas presented the first general public screening of the newly restored (from original camera negatives) live-action adventure, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954).

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.

Emily Mann to Direct "The Convert" at Kirk Douglas Theater

NEW YORK — New Yorker drama critic John Lahr set off a social media firestorm in December with a blog comment that called for a moratorium on those "infernal all-black productions of Tennessee Williams plays unless we can have their equal in folly: all-white productions of August Wilson."

The theater community, as viewed from my portal on Facebook, found the comparison not just inept but inflammatory. Emily Mann, who happens to be directing the multiracial Broadway production of "A Streetcar Named Desire" starring Blair Underwood and Nicole Ari Parker that opens later this month at the Broadhurst Theatre, however, refused to take the bait when we spoke during a rehearsal break in March. Her response to the question of the legitimacy of such a multicultural endeavor is short and sweet: "Tennessee always wanted this to happen."

This is one of two major productions Mann is directing. The other is a powerful new work by Danai Gurira, "The Convert," which had its premiere earlier this year at the McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, N.J., where Mann has long served as artistic director. The play, which was commissioned by Center Theatre Group and opens Thursday at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in a co-production with McCarter andChicago's Goodman Theatre, takes place in a British colony in southern Africa in the late 19th century. It's a Pygmalion story involving a young woman whose Christian education forces her to choose between her traditional culture and the Western values she has ambivalently adopted.

It might strike some as odd that a white director is guiding these two productions. (Debbie Allen directed the 2008 African American production of "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" on Broadway that paved the way for this "Streetcar.") But these works engage themes and concerns that Mann — a playwright as well as a director, best known for her Broadway production of "Having Our Say" — has been preoccupied with throughout her career. As someone who worked with her more than a decade ago at the McCarter, I can attest that the two poles of her sensibility — the poetic realism side and the social justice side — are united in these projects.

Mann didn't just come of age during the tumultuous days of the civil rights struggle of the 1960s; she was given a world-class tutorial as it was unfolding. Her father was Arthur Mann, a highly regarded professor of American history at the University of Chicago. John Hope Franklin, the eminent African American historian, was her father's colleague and closest friend. Their two families were intertwined, and Mann recalls the dinner discussions when she was in high school that informed her own understanding of the heated news of the day, including the assassinations ofMartin Luther King Jr. andRobert F. Kennedy.

"I had the most incredible privilege in my life growing up with two great historical minds at a time when the country was in convulsions," Mann says. "It was all so close and intimate. And I was getting more and more radicalized by the politics of the day. To wrestle all this down with those two men was life-forming, character-forming."

As a playwright, Mann has focused on documentary drama or "theater of testimony," as it has been called. Plays such as her Obie-winning "Still Life," "Execution of Justice" and "Greensboro: A Requiem" follow the pattern of her first play, "Annulla (An Autobiography)," a Holocaust survivor drama that elegantly layers research Mann conducted herself. As a director, Mann has been devoted to Ibsen, Chekhov, Lorca and Williams, and in particular to the strong female characters that their dramas often revolve around.

It's as an artistic director that the capaciousness of her sensibility is perhaps most evident. During her more than 20 years at McCarter, she has formed fruitful relationships with a diverse group of playwrights, including Athol Fugard, Edward Albee, Dael Orlandersmith, Nilo Cruz, Marina Carr and Tarell Alvin McCraney — writers whose only common thread is their originality.

Mann's long history with Williams goes back to 1979 when she directed "The Glass Menagerie" at the Guthrie Theatre. Strong reviews led to a personal acquaintance with the playwright and an invitation to work on a new play he was writing, "A House Not Meant to Stand," which would turn out to be his last.

"We met and spent a lot of time together," she recalls. "In the end I decided not to do it, because I worshiped him, and I was so young, and the play needed so much work and I didn't know how to help him. He said, 'Oh, you'll just come down and live with me, Miss Emily, in Key West. We'll wake up every morning and write.' I was like, 'Oh, my God.' He was really pretty out there then."

Williams, Mann says, had hoped to have a production of color of "Streetcar" as far back as the late 1950s. "He kept giving permission to do this idea because he'd always known, as someone who knows New Orleans, how right this is," she says.