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 will be available on May 2, 2017. This link will enable you to pre-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.

Freida "Fritzi" Demsky Becker, sister of actor Kirk Douglas, dies

--September 23, 2015

Twins, Fritzi Becker, of Albany N.Y. and Ida Sahr, of Schenectady, sisters of Kirk Douglas, attend the Proctors Capital Region Hall of Fame induction Sept. 20, 2008. (James Goolsby/Times Union archive) Photo: JAMES GOOLSBY / 00000306A

Photo: Fritzi Becker, left, with twin sister Ida Sahr in 2008.

ALBANY - Freida "Fritzi" Demsky Becker, the sister of actor Kirk Douglas, died on Sunday, according to an obituary published in the Times Union.

Becker, like her brother, was born in Amsterdam. She spent most of her life in Albany.

According to her obituary, she retired as the manager of the former David's Clothing Stores which had locations in Albany and Niskayuna.

She was predeceased by her husband, Harold "Hunky" Becker, who died in 1992.

In addition to her brother and his wife, Anne, Becker is survived by her sister, Ida Sahr of Schenectady. The obituary said she was also the loving mother of Gary Becker and his partner, Jack Cadalso Jr. of Albany, David Becker and his wife, Judy Coyne- Becker, also of Albany, and Barbara Becker of Chicago.

Service were held Tuesday at the Levine Memorial Chapel in Albany.

A memorial contribution can be made in her memory to the Harold J. Becker Fund at Temple Israel in Albany, 600 New Scotland Ave., Albany, NY 12208.

Who Broke the Blacklist? ‘Trumbo’ Splits the Difference in Battle for Credit

--Variety  September 1, 2015

Jay Roach's 'Trumbo' Tries to Strike

Kirk Douglas has insisted for more than a quarter century that he is the man who “broke the blacklist.” By demanding Dalton Trumbo get credit in 1960 for writing “Spartacus,” the screen icon asserts he struck a death blow to a system that forced creatives out of Hollywood, or left them to work in its shadows.

For almost as many years, Trumbo’s family has charged that Douglas — while admirable for disagreeing with the anticommunist witch hunts of the 1940s and ’50s — awarded himself too much credit for a victory that belongs to many people. They have advocated for more recognition of “Exodus” director Otto Preminger, who first called for an onscreen credit for the blacklisted writer.

“Trumbo’s” Toronto Film Festival premiere seemed like an occasion that might renew the long-running feud. Instead, the biopic, starring Bryan Cranston and directed by Jay Roach, uses artful creative license to give Douglas his due, but not in excess — a compromise likely to defuse the kind of furor that has dogged recent historical pictures like “Selma” and “The Imitation Game” for taking too many liberties with history.

“Trumbo” goes to Toronto and a Nov. 6 opening with the blessing of both Trumbo’s daughters and Douglas. “I think the movie gets it right,” says daughter Mitzi. Douglas screened the film at his home last week and was “very, very pleased,” says Fred Specktor, the actor’s agent for three decades.

While peace may be at hand in the Douglas-Trumbo dispute, the historic re-creation, from Groundswell Prods. and ShivHans Pictures, and released by Bleecker Street, could reignite other seven decades-old political fires. The John Wayne character is portrayed as a simpleminded accomplice of ruthless right-wing columnist Hedda Hopper. And a brief newsreel glimpse of actor Ronald Reagan positions the actor as another tool of a government recklessly targeting its own citizens. It’s hard to imagine that conservative commentators won’t offer a rebuttal to the accounts, scripted by John McNamara.

The Douglas case proves that Cold War-era emotions sometimes remain very raw. The 98-year-old Douglas will go to his grave insisting he broke the blacklist. But a good body of evidence will say he played his part, but did not act first, or alone.

Some of the facts now seem clear: In 1947, Trumbo was held in contempt of Congress, blacklisted and later imprisoned when the self-avowed communist declined to identify other leftists to the House Un-American Activities Committee. For more than a decade, the writer continued to scratch out a living by churning out mostly B-movies under a series of pen names. (That period is a centerpiece of “Trumbo,” and daughter Mitzi says Cranston has captured the screenwriter’s essence to the point that “he just seems like my father to me.”)

By the late 1950s, studios quietly had begun to hire Trumbo again. In January 1960, Preminger told the New York Times that he had hired the still-blacklisted writer to author the screen version of Leon Uris’ novel “Exodus,” and that he “naturally will get the credit on the screen that he amply deserves.” The Times also revealed Trumbo had worked on the script for “Spartacus.”

Douglas disliked Preminger, and depicted the director as jumping on the anti-blacklist bandwagon, according to “Dalton Trumbo: Blacklisted Hollywood Radical,” by Larry Ceplair and Trumbo’s son, Christopher Trumbo. Douglas reportedly told his wife that Preminger had “jumped into the front car and claimed to be the engineer” of the push to recognize blacklisted screenwriters.

Eight months after Preminger restored Trumbo to the public domain, Universal acknowledged him as the screenwriter of “Spartacus.” The classic paean to human liberty was released in October 1960, the first film in more than a dozen years in which Trumbo received an onscreen credit. When “Exodus” debuted in December, true to Preminger’s word, it also carried Trumbo’s name.

In 1991, Trumbo’s widow, Cleo, declined to attend a Writers Guild event honoring Douglas for his actions during the blacklist era, because the group declined to also give an award to Preminger. In 2002, Motion Picture Producers of America boss Jack Valenti chastised the Los Angeles Times for not giving Douglas enough credit as a blacklist nemesis. Cleo responded with a letter to the editor calling Preminger and Douglas both “men of principle and courage,” but reiterating that it was the director who first publicly said he would give credit to her husband. Douglas did not waver. According to Ceplair’s Trumbo biography, the actor wrote to Cleo Trumbo: “Your letter to the L.A. Times made me very sad … I’m very proud of the fact that I was the first one to break the blacklist.” His lawyer makes the same assertion after seeing the new movie, and says Douglas enjoyed the way the story unfolds in the film, with his character played by actor Dean O’Gorman.

In his 2012 book, “I Am Spartacus!” Douglas further alienated the Trumbo clan by claiming that he, not Dalton Trumbo, had conceived the iconic “I am Spartacus!” scene. Ceplair, after reviewing draft’s of Trumbo’s script, says the screenwriter clearly conceived the notion of other slaves adopting their hero’s name.

Mitzi Trumbo, a now-retired 69-year-old photographer, once decried the “inflated” role Douglas gave himself. But today, she and her sister, Niki, appear to have come to peace with the new screen version of Douglas. “It’s hard to find a way to do justice to both Otto Preminger and to Kirk Douglas,” says Mitzi Trumbo. “They both did very brave things, and my father was always grateful and so close to both of them.”

Most importantly, she feels “Trumbo” will remind Americans about the danger of persecuting citizens for their political beliefs. “My father never expected this kind of attention,” she adds. “He would be stunned, just stunned. And I think it’s important this film is out there, and this story is being told.”

 

 

 

Why Kirk and Anne Douglas Are Giving Away Their Fortune

--Hollywood Reporter August 20, 2015

The iconic actor and his wife of 61 years have amassed an $80 million fortune, and now they are planning to give back to a range of causes, from Children's Hospital Los Angeles and the Anne Douglas Center for Women to their biggest passion, the Motion Picture & Television Fund

Kirk Douglas, 98, has come a long way from his Russian immigrant parents' house near the railroad tracks in Amsterdam, New York. Sitting in his Beverly Hills home with Anne, his wife of 61 years, the legendary actor recalls of his youth, "Sometimes we didn't have enough to eat, but very often there would be a knock at the door and it would be a hobo wanting food, and my mother always gave them something. My mother said to me, 'You must take care of other people.' That stayed with me.'"

Movie stars in Kirk's heyday didn't get paid the kind of money they do today, but Kirk still became a very wealthy man. In 1955, he formed a production company so that he could make movies outside of the studio system — a new concept back then — and Anne took charge of its bookkeeping. (The company's "big moneymakers," she recalls, were 1958's The Vikings and 1960's Spartacus.) "My wife is very smart," says Kirk. "Fifty years ago she set up a trust, and it's been growing ever since. So recently [in 2012] I said, 'How much money do we have in that?' And she said, '$80 million.' I said, 'What?!' Anne recalls Kirk's next remark, 'I want to give it away.' And that's exactly what's happening."  

 The Douglas' biggest contributions, though, have been to the Motion Picture & Television Fund. In the early 1990s, they raised $2 million to build Harry's Haven (named after Kirk's father), a specialized unit for people suffering from Alzheimer's and related forms of dementia, on the Woodland Hills campus. In 2012, they donated an additional $20 million to the MPTF. Then, a year ago, after learning that Harry's Haven was becoming overcrowded, they pledged an additional $15 million for an expansion. Ground will be broken for the Kirk Douglas Care Pavilion, a new two-floor building attached to Harry's Haven, around the time of Kirk's 99th birthday in December. Anne laughs, "When [MPTF Foundation chairman]  Jeffrey Katzenberg comes to say 'Hello,' you say, 'How much?'"