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.
How Kirk Douglas Inspired Resistance To Trump’s Brand Of McCarthyism
- Created on Wednesday, 21 December 2016
- Written by David Palumbo-Liu
--Huffington Post December 15, 2016
One of Hollywood’s finest actors, Kirk Douglas, recently celebrated his 100th birthday. There much to celebrate—in his rich career Douglas garnered three Academy Award nominations, an Oscar for Lifetime Achievement, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
What is less known, but demands remembering now more than ever, is the role he played in fighting the McCarthyist blacklist of Hollywood writers, most dramatically when he insisted that one of them, Dalton Trumbo, be given full screen credit for writing the screenplay for one of Douglas’ most famous films, Spartacus.
When the film Trumbo was released last year, Douglas took that opportunity to warn us that blacklists can always appear again, and that it is incumbent upon members of a democracy to fight them:
“As actors it is easy for us to play the hero. We get to fight the bad guys and stand up for justice. In real life, the choices are not always so clear. The Hollywood Blacklist, recreated powerfully on screen in Trumbo, was a time I remember well. The choices were hard. The consequences were painful and very real. During the blacklist, I had friends who went into exile when no one would hire them; actors who committed suicide in despair. My young co-star in Detective Story (1951), Lee Grant, was unable to work for twelve years after she refused to testify against her husband before the House Un-American Activities Committee. I was threatened that using a Blacklisted writer for Spartacus — my friend Dalton Trumbo — would mark me as a “Commie-lover” and end my career. There are times when one has to stand up for principle. I am so proud of my fellow actors who use their public influence to speak out against injustice. At 98 years old, I have learned one lesson from history: It very often repeats itself. I hope that Trumbo, a fine film, will remind all of us that the Blacklist was a terrible time in our country, but that we must learn from it so that it will never happen again.”
Back then the American Legion, outraged that Douglas had given a Communist sympathizer screen credit, set up a picket line to block entrance to the film’s screening. On February 4, 1961, President John F. Kennedy crossed the picket line to attend the screening of Spartacus.
This presidential act of solidarity helped end the blacklist. Today we face, as Kirk Douglas warned we might, another challenge, but with an entirely different sort of person coming into the Presidency.
Trumbo and others were put into prison for refusing to testify against others. In so doing they were resisting what they felt were unconstitutional demands—these men and women refused to inform on their friends, to spread the mass hysteria aimed against those who held different beliefs.
One of the most memorable scenes in Spartacus comes at the end, when the Roman soldiers are closing in on the hero, who is the leader of a slave rebellion. Captured by the Romans, a group of slaves are asked to identify Spartacus, and in exchange for giving him up they are promised leniency. But instead of betraying him, they each declare, “I am Spartacus!” Trumbo the screenwriter was clearly gesturing toward the real-life situation of not only blacklisted Hollywood writers, but also of all others facing McCarthyite persecution. In crediting Trumbo with the screenplay, Douglas was in effect making the same kind of statement of solidarity in his own actions, which President Kennedy then followed in kind.
Today we are faced with a blacklist against professors who are suspected of harboring “liberal” beliefs and the registry of Muslims proposed by the President-Elect, who has also warned the press that it should be careful about how it presents the news of his presidency. And just now, in one of the most egregious acts yet, the National Park Service, prompted by the Presidential Inaugural Committee, has filed a “massive omnibus blocking permit“ for many of Washington, DC’s most famous political locations for days and weeks before and after the inauguration on 20 January. So much for the Million Woman March on Washington and any other sort of demonstration. This is a clear abridgment of the First Amendment, which includes “the right of the people to peaceably assemble.” It is the only time in our nation’s history such a broad and flagrant denial of a right to protest has been issued. Who knows what other kinds of acts of surveillance and censorship might appear in the future?
While organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union are planning to challenge the registry in court it is crucial to see how everyday people are stepping up, taking a page from Spartacus in their mode of resistance. One effort is the “Register Us“ campaign, whose website declares: “Donald Trump wants to require all Muslims to register in a government database. We must stand together to protect our neighbors and our most fundamental rights. Let’s all pledge to register as Muslim today.”
Similarly, many professors across the country are insisting that they be included in the ProfessorWatch website. One group at the University of Notre Dame addresses their petition to ProfessorWatch thus,
“We make this request because we note that you currently list on your site several of our colleagues, such as Professor Gary Gutting, whose work is distinguished by its commitment to reasoned, fact-based civil discourse examining questions of tolerance, equality, and justice. We further note that nearly all faculty colleagues at other institutions listed on your site, the philosophers, historians, theologians, ethicists, feminists, rhetoricians, and others, have similarly devoted their professional lives to the unyielding pursuit of truth, to the critical examination of assumptions that underlie social and political policy, and to honoring this country’s commitments to the premise that all people are created equal and deserving of respect. This is the sort of company we wish to keep.”
And now a second petition is being circulated by the largest national organization of academics, the American Association of University Professors, where faculty are adding their names in support of the Notre Dame professors.
And finally, it has just been announced that the US Department of Energy has resisted the President-Elect’s request to hand over names of individuals who work on climate change: “We are going to respect the professional and scientific integrity and independence of our employees at our labs and across our department,” said spokesman Eben Burnham-Snyder.
Just as holding communist views was not illegal during the McCarthyite era, today it is of course not illegal to hold “liberal” views, nor is it illegal to be a Muslim, nor is it illegal to work on a scientific project that Donald Trump feels is invalid. But at a time when the President-Elect has chosen to informally but effectively conduct policy via Twitter, when facts are buried in falsehoods, when the distinction between what is legal and what is not legal is blurred, actions urged upon us by the government and others can easily ask us to transgress our own laws and rights. It is, therefore, all the more important to resist any and all efforts to turn us into instruments for witch hunts of minorities of various natures and those who hold unpopular positions. Last year Kirk Douglas had no idea how quickly his concern about history repeating itself could happen. We need to emulate not only the character he played in one of his greatest roles, but also the role he played in real life in fighting against prejudice and persecution, and fighting for all our rights and freedoms.
Inside Kirk Douglas's intimate 100th birthday celebration
- Created on Sunday, 11 December 2016
- Written by Associated Press
--Associated Press December 10, 2016
Kirk Douglas knows how to make an entrance. With boxing gloves in every centerpiece and the theme from "Rocky" blaring over the speakers, Douglas, one of the golden age of Hollywood's last living legends, walked confidently into the Sunset Room at the Beverly Hills Hotel Friday afternoon to celebrate his 100th birthday at an intimate gathering of friends and family.
Flanked by Anne Douglas, his wife of over 62 years, his son Michael Douglas, his daughter-in-law Catherine Zeta-Jones and his grandchildren, Kirk Douglas looked out over the crowd of about 150 people, including Don Rickles, Jeffrey Katzenberg, his Rabbi and many of his closest friends and smiled. Not only was he surrounded by friendly faces, he knew, as promised by his doctor years ago, that if he lived to 100, he would get to have a glass of vodka.
But before the vodka was presented in a comically large martini glass, Kirk Douglas got to sit and listen to words from his loved ones as images from his many classic film credits such as "Spartacus," "Lust for Life," "Paths of Glory" and others played on a screen behind him.
Michael Douglas kicked off the proceedings, saying that it's not just about age, but about the life he's lived and what he's accomplished.
"One of the things that I find most incredible about dad is the third act of his life," said Michael Douglas. "After all he accomplished in his professional career and what he's given for his country, at the point in his life where he's faced adversity, losing a son, having a helicopter crash, having a stroke, and what he's accomplished in this third act in his life, I find quite extraordinary."
Kirk Douglas kept his remarks brief.
"I wonder who he was talking about? He said some nice things about someone I don't know," Kirk Douglas said, joking that Michael Douglas was chosen to organize the proceedings because "he has the most money."
Kirk Douglas also thanked everyone for coming and marveled at seeing most of his family in the crowd.
Zeta-Jones then lit the 12 candles on the cake.
"I'm so glad there's not 100!" she exclaimed, before leading the room to sing "Happy Birthday" with a string quartet accompaniment.
It was only the start of the afternoon, which included remarks from a few of his seven grandchildren, his Rabbi and his doctor. Charley King's Bluebell Events oversaw the afternoon tea where each table was designated not by numbers but by Kirk Douglas's films. The birthday boy was seated at the "Lonely Are the Brave" table, which is his favorite film.
Don Rickles lightened the reverent and respectful mood, quipping to the crowd from his seat that he wanted to go home.
He poked fun at Kirk Douglas's good looks and physique saying that he had to hear the "I'm Spartacus crap" every day, and how Burt Lancaster used to advise him that Kirk Douglas "doesn't know what he's talking about."
Rickles did get a bit choked up by the end
"You are an outstanding man because you've been blessed with warmth and love and class, and ... ah, forget it, you're all of that and more," He said. "May god give you strength and may you be with us for 100 more. If that's his wish, so be it, if not, I know in heaven you'll be in charge."
Off to the side, actress and dancer Neile Adams, who was Steve McQueen's first wife, recalled Douglas's mischievous side.
"Kirk was terrible when he was a young man! You could not sit beside him without his hand crawling up your leg. When Steve would leave the room suddenly he'd be on me," she said with a hearty laugh. "But he was cute."
She recalled his resilience, when a few years ago he had both of his knees replaced. Michael Douglas, she said, tried to encourage him to just do one and get a chair. Kirk Douglas, however, had a different idea and it didn't involve a wheelchair.
"You'll never see Spartacus in a (expletive) chair!" Adams remembered him saying.
Later in the afternoon, Katzenberg reflected on the generosity of the Douglas's, who are famous for their charitable giving.
"You have remained and will always remain my hero," Katzenberg said. "I will remind you of your words that you gave to me and I try to give to other people all the time which is 'you haven't learned how to live until you learn how to give.'"
Steven Spielberg, who arrived late, and on crutches having recently broken his foot on set came with a very specific message.
"I wanted to come here and say I've been shooting movies and television shows for now 47 years and I've worked with the best of them and you're the only movie star I ever met," Spielberg said. "There is something that you have that no one else ever had ... When you watch Kirk's performance in anything, in anything he's ever done, you cannot take your eyes off of him. It's not possible to look away from him."
He called it an optimistic ferocity and it's something he challenges all his actors to achieve in his films.
"You're a miracle man," he said.
And, even after 100 years to show for it, he's still fighting.