Kirk Douglas says wife Anne saved his life twice
- Created on Friday, 19 May 2017
- Written by Stephanie Nolasco
--Fox New Entertainment May 17, 2017
When Kirk and Anne Douglas released a new book that revealed intimate letters they shared over the years, readers were shocked to discover that Kirk's longtime wife was not only aware of his infidelity, but she willfully turned a blind eye to his lovers.
“Trust and honesty are two of the qualities I find essential in marriage,” wrote Anne in an email to Fox News regarding her bold admission in “Kirk and Anne: Letters of Love, Laughter and a Lifetime in Hollywood.”
Anne, 98, and Kirk, 100, communicated with us over email. Kirk’s 1996 stroke has impacted his speech.
“I never wanted to hear gossip about my husband from a third party,” explained Anne. “I told him right from the start that I needed to hear from him directly if he was having or had had a fling. And since he can’t keep a secret, he always has — none of them serious and usually when he was lonely and on location without me.”
The German-born publicist, who currently serves as president of Kirk's production company Bryna, also stated that her European upbringing led her to feel it was “unrealistic to expect total fidelity in a marriage.”
“European women are less likely to run to the divorce court in righteous indignation than Americans are,” she added. “I loved my husband and my life and our family, so why would I give all that up because of pride? We are together because we love and respect each other and share the same values.”
And it looks like the couple’s unconventional approach to love has worked just fine. Kirk married Anne in 1954 and they’ve been together ever since.
Kirk wrote to Fox News that he credited his spouse for saving his life, including the time when she refused to let him travel on a private plane named Lucky Liz in 1958 with director and friend Mike Todd, who was then married to Elizabeth Taylor. The plane crash, killing everyone on board.
“Anne has saved my life twice — once when she fought with me about flying on Mike Todd’s plane until I gave in, and the plane crashed over New Mexico,” he said. “Everyone was killed. She also drove me to the hospital after my stroke in record time and then gave me tough love to bring me out of my suicidal depression afterward. I think, once you read our letters to each other, you’ll understand my endless fascination with her.”
Kirk and Anne first met in Paris in the early 1950s while he was on location for an upcoming film and she was assisting with press. While the charismatic actor assumed he could easily win her over, his plans for seduction didn’t go over so smoothly.
“I had been a big movie star with two Oscar nominations by the time I met Anne, and I believed that any woman would be flattered if I asked her out,” he recalled. “Anne was the one who turned me down.”
Anne had her reasons.
“Of course, he was charming and sexy, but I had seen too many young women in Paris fall in love with American movie stars who went home to their lives and wives when their pictures wrapped,” she explained. “I certainly didn’t want to be another location romance casualty. I had survived war in occupied Paris, and knew instinctively how to protect myself from dangerous situations.”
But Kirk found a way to get close to Anne.
“I couldn’t convince her to go out with me, but I finally convinced her to do my publicity on the  film, ‘Act of Love,’” he said. “I knew it would be strictly business, yet she still fascinated me and I wanted to know all about her. She had a wicked sense of humor, spoke four languages and was the most sophisticated and elegant woman I had ever met. So I fell in love with her.”
The move eventually worked. Anne said she admired his work ethic, noting that he learned to speak fluent French in less than two months just so that he could act in the French version of the film. And thanks to the movie’s long, grueling hours, the duo became friends.
“Kirk is unable to keep a secret, so I knew all about his extracurricular life as well,” she said.
Despite her admirer's womanizing reputation, Anne eventually learned that she was falling for him.
“One night we went to the Cirque d’ Hiver charity gala and the producers asked Kirk to participate,” she said. “He surprised everyone by coming out after the elephant act still in his elegant tuxedo pushing a giant broom of a pooper-scooper. Everyone laughed and I fell in love.”
Kirk revealed that it was their numerous love letters from over the years that inspired his twelfth book. Fortunately, Anne saved all of their correspondences that chronicled their relationship.
“I remember how much we depended on getting mail from each other when we were apart. So I asked her. And she brought a big battered file folder that she had kept hidden in a closet in our Montecito house,” he said. “My remarkable wife had kept everything — notes, cables, scrawled musings from plans and movie sets, starting in 1953 when we first met in Paris. At that moment, I knew this shouldn’t be my book, it should be ours.”
What has been the secret behind a high-profile Hollywood marriage that has thrived for over 60 years? While Anne does turn a blind eye to infidelity, the couple, who raised two sons, credit date night for sparking the romance every day.
“[Date night is] the same as it’s been throughout our marriage,” said Kirk. “We spend what we call the ‘golden hour’ together at around 6:30 each night. We’ll sit and talk and laugh and share our day and our thoughts with each other.
“Except now we are very 21st century and bring along our iPads,” she added.
Kirk Douglas’ beautiful love letters to his wife
- Created on Monday, 15 May 2017
- Written by Starts at 60
--Starts at 60 May 14, 2017
At 100 and 98-years-old respectively, Kirk Douglas and his beloved wife Anne are one of the ultimate Hollywood couples.
After 63 years of marriage, the couple have plenty of memories and a strong love for each other.
And now that’s been revealed in a new book released by Kirk and Anne.
The book, titled Kirk and Anne: Letters of Love, Laughter and a Lifetime In Hollywood by Kirk and Anne Douglas.
It chronicles their long courtship and how Anne tamed Kirk’s womanising ways, in their own words and with some of their most romantic and revealing love letters.
Like many from the older generations, Anne and Kirk regularly hand wrote each other beautiful and romantic love letters.
And while there are dozens published in their new book, there’s one that’s particularly poignant.
An excerpt of the letter, written by Kirk 60 years ago and published by the Daily Mail, is certainly moving.
“My darling wife,” Kirk wrote.
“At this moment you are thousands of feet above the earth, sleeping peacefully I hope but racing towards me. Airplanes fly so fast.
“Why am I writing? You will be here soon. But I know that when you get here, we will not have time to say all the things we want to say to each other.
“In fact, if we live to be 100, there will still be so many unsaid things — which is just as well, perhaps, because then, if there is a life after death, we will have many things to talk about later.”
It’s particularly poignant seeing as Kirk hit the big 100 last year.
In the book, the couple tell the story of their letter.
It was Anne who saved their letters, by keeping them carefully folded away and even collecting Kirk’s letters from the bottom of his suitcase when he’d return home from filming a movie.
But it was Kirk who decided the couple should publish them and share their love story.
“I hope our grandchildren won’t be shocked by the intensity of the letters,” he said, according to the Daily Mail.
“Perhaps they will come to value, even in this world of instant communication, the joy of writing and receiving non-electronic letters — particularly when it comes to love.”
Kirk Douglas: How I Met My Wife at the Cannes Film Festival (Exclusive Book Excerpt)
- Created on Monday, 15 May 2017
- Written by Kirk & Anne Douglas
--Hollywood Reporter May 10, 2017
In this excerpt from their new joint memoir, Kirk and Anne: Letters of Love, Laughter, and a Lifetime in Hollywood, the pair, who married in 1954, recall meeting in Paris in early 1953 and their time together at Cannes that year.
ANNE My friend Anatole Litvak, the director of Act of Love, convinced me to meet with Kirk, who was anxious to hire a bilingual assistant who could also handle his personal publicity. Kirk had already gotten quite a reputation in his first few weeks in town. The press had dubbed him "Le Brute Cheri," the darling brute, and he was photographed with a succession of stunning women. I was sure this would be a courtesy interview. I had signed a three-year contract to handle protocol for the Cannes International Film Festival starting in April.
KIRK I was fascinated by the lovely young Parisienne who sat in my dressing room, her slim ankles crossed under her a la mode blue suit. Within minutes, I offered her the job. She took only seconds to turn me down in her impeccable English. I was not used to rebuffs. A few hours later, in my most seductive tones, I called Anne to invite her to dinner at the romantic La Tour d'Argent. "Thank you, but I'm tired. I will just make some scrambled eggs and stay in tonight," said the voice on the other end of the phone. I was shocked and annoyed. I was determined to change her mind— at least about the job. I sent emissaries: Litvak, Irwin Shaw — Act of Love's screenwriter who remembered her from The Young Lions — and Anne's friend, [photographer] Robert Capa. She finally agreed to work with me on a trial basis, making it clear our relationship would be strictly business. We spent a lot of time together. Anne was efficient and had a wicked sense of humor. Everyone liked her — much more than they liked me! We often spoke in French, which I was studying. With no romance in the picture, I stopped talking about myself and trying to impress Anne. Instead, I began to listen to her. She had told me very little about her background; I didn't even know that she spent her early years in Hitler's Germany.
ANNE Kirk was invited to the annual charity gala at the Cirque d'Hiver, the famous Winter Circus. He wanted me to accompany him. We had been working through the afternoon at his lovely apartment near the Bois de Boulogne when he started asking me questions about my life. I was always reluctant to talk about myself, particularly as so much of my past was painful. Kirk was an attentive listener, and I found myself being very honest. I even opened up about my rift with my father. We talked for hours. I had a strange feeling in my heart that I could fall in love with this man. I didn't want to, because I had seen too many young women enter into intense affairs with visiting movie stars — Dean Martin, Marlon Brando and Cary Grant among them. Then the film wrapped and the men returned to their wives and families. At the circus, the producers spotted Kirk coming in. "You must participate." I took my seat, wondering what he would do with no preparation. After the elephants left the arena, there was the tuxedoed Kirk — the popular Brute Cheri — pushing a giant pooper-scooper of a broom across the ring to great hilarity. How could I resist a man who could laugh at himself? We went back to his place for a nightcap, which turned into something more.
KIRK As things became more serious with Anne, I warned her not to expect a commitment. I was secretly engaged to [Italian actress] Pier Angeli, I told her. I could have saved us both a lot of anguish if I had used my new fluency in French to read the movie magazines. Anne knew, but never breathed a word, that Pier was constantly in the news, always with another man at her side. My next picture would be filmed in Italy, so I was sure that would all change. The two producers of Ulysses, Dino de Laurentiis and Carlo Ponti, were going to Cannes in April, and I would meet with them there. They had already hired Anne Buydens to do the unit publicity for the picture.
ANNE I was glad Kirk was in Cannes, though I didn't have much time for him. In the midst of everything, [Hotel Bel-Air owner] Joe Drown arrived from California and insisted on taking me to dinner. It was a disaster. Joe got drunk and gambled heavily. I left him and called Kirk, who was next door at the Carlton. He had been asleep. "How was your evening?" he asked. I burst into tears. "Just awful … and it's my birthday." "I'll get dressed and take you out," he said. We went to a small cafe near the beach, and he turned my tears into laughter.
KIRK Ponti invited us to his villa in the hills above Amalfi. We had a wonderful, romantic holiday in an ancient tower that served as their guest quarters. During that magical week, Anne and I would set off in a little rowboat. She would row; I would sing her Italian love songs …
Excerpted with permission from Kirk and Anne: Letters of Love, Laughter, and a Lifetime in Hollywood by Kirk and Anne Douglas with Marcia Newberger by Running Press, May 25, 2017. © The Bryna Co.
Kirk and Anne Douglas Remember Elizabeth Taylor’s Precious Last Moments with Husband Mike Todd
- Created on Thursday, 04 May 2017
- Written by Sam Gillette
--People May 3, 2017
In a new book about their life together, Kirk and Anne Douglas reflect on their close friendship with Elizabeth Taylor and her third husband, Mike Todd. Theirs was a bond laced with Hollywood glamour, but it took a tragic turn when Todd was killed in a plane crash in 1958 — the very same plane that Douglas decided not to board at the last minute. Todd’s death left Taylor a young widow at 26.
“I had never seen Mike as besotted with any woman as he was with Elizabeth,” writes Anne, 98, in Kirk and Anne: Letters of Love, Laughter, and a Lifetime in Hollywood, which she co-wrote with her 100-year-old actor husband. The collection of letters featured in the book released Tuesday showcases their romance and how they maintained their marriage for more than 60 years. (Their family includes Kirk Douglas’ two sons from his first marriage — including the actor Michael Douglas — and their two sons together, including youngest son Eric, who was bipolar and died of a drug overdose in 2004).
One of Anne’s favorite memories of the couple? When Taylor was pregnant with their daughter Liza. Though Taylor was already in bed with chocolates, the Cleopatra star asked Todd (a film producer) for more treats. Anne remembers him calling back, “Just shut up and be beautiful!”
Later that evening, he chartered a plane and flew in a meal from Paris to their London hotel at Taylor’s behest.
“We ate that dinner at 10 o’clock,” Anne writes. “Now that’s a showman!”
In the book, Kirk remembers one of his last interactions with Todd. The producer invited Kirk and Anne to see the gifts he’d arranged on the lawn before Taylor woke up. There were all types of jewelry “encrusted with precious stones and shimmering like a mirage in the late-morning sun.”
He remembers Todd saying to Taylor: “‘Go ahead. Pick whatever you want.'”
“It wasn’t her birthday; it wasn’t their anniversary; it wasn’t a holiday,” Kirk writes. “Mike didn’t need a reason to indulge his passion for his young wife.”
According to Kirk and Anne, the next day Todd invited Kirk to fly with him to New York.
“Mike asked me to go on his private plane with him, and we were going to stop and see Harry Truman and then go on to New York,” the actor told PEOPLE in July 2015, adding, “I was very excited.”
After Kirk shared the invite with Anne, she had “a strange feeling.” She writes that she was six months pregnant and told him she didn’t want him on the plane.
“Kirk gave in. He was furious,” she writes. “If he couldn’t fly with Mike, he wouldn’t go at all. I was ruining his fun for no logical reason. He stomped off to bed without kissing me goodnight.”
On March 22, 1958, Todd and three others died when the plane crashed in the Zuni Mountains of New Mexico. According to a report from that time, Taylor was sedated after she heard the news. She had planned on flying with him, but didn’t go because she had a cold.
Shortly after Todd’s death, Taylor began her famed romance with his friend Eddie Fisher, who was married to Debbie Reynolds at the time. The pair wed fourteen months after the fatal crash.
“I loved them both passionately and dearly,” she said to Larry King in 2006 of her feelings for Todd and Fisher.
Looking back at that fateful day when he decided not to get on that plane, Kirk said the incident made him even more thankful for his wife.
“Why was I spared? I was so grateful,” Kirk told PEOPLE. “My wife has saved my life many times.”
Anne and Kirk heard the news of the accident on the radio while he was driving.
“I pulled onto the shoulder of the road immediately. Shakily, I got out of the car. Anne joined me.” Kirk writes, “We stood, wrapped together in a strong embrace, tears streaming down our faces.”
He remembers eventually telling her: “Darling, you saved my life. I will always trust your intuition from now on.”
Anne Douglas Writes Openly About Kirk Douglas’s Extramarital Affairs
- Created on Wednesday, 03 May 2017
- Written by Hilary Weaver
--Vanity Fair May 2, 2017
Kirk and Anne Douglas have been married since 1954. Together, they share two sons, Peter and the late Eric, and more than six decades of partnership. But their marriage hasn’t been a completely monogamous one. Anne wrote about this in her new book with her husband, Kirk and Anne: Letters of Love, Laughter and a Lifetime in Hollywood, per People.
“Kirk never tried to hide his dalliances from me,” Anne details in the book, noting that her husband’s infidelities were something she accepted as a part of marriage. “As a European, I understood it was unrealistic to expect total fidelity in a marriage.”
Kirk Douglas, now 100, wrote about his extramarital affairs in his 1988 autobiography, The Ragman’s Son. “I’m a sonofabitch, plain and simple,” he said then, per The New York Post. He detailed sexual conquests with Joan Crawford's daughter, Christina Crawford, Rita Hayworth, and Patricia Neal. He tried and failed to seduce Lauren Bacall.
“Kirk secured my permission before including stories of his trysts . . . I’m positive his candor helped him make the book a major bestseller,” Anne said.
The two even renewed their vows in 2004. The ceremony, on their 50th anniversary, was Kirk’s fulfilled promise to give Anne a real wedding. Their first was a casual affair in front of a justice of peace in Las Vegas, where Anne accidentally said, “My awfully wedded husband.”
In June 2014, Kirk wrote about his 60-year marriage to Anne in The Los Angeles Times, crediting her with helping him keep people around. “I don't know why Anne stuck with me through those early decades,” he said at the time. “If anyone I worked with is still alive, they will attest that I wasn't Mr. Popularity. I had a lot of anger matched by a lot of arrogance. Some people put up with me, I think, simply because I had such a wonderful wife.”
Kirk and Anne Douglas’ Unconventional Love Affair: It’s ‘Unrealistic to Expect Total Fidelity in a Marriage’
- Created on Tuesday, 02 May 2017
- Written by Sam Gillette
--People May 2, 2017
Legendary actor Kirk Douglas has been candid about his extramarital affairs in the past, and his wife of more than 60 years says she accepted his infidelity — and willfully turned a blind eye to his lovers.
“Kirk never tried to hide his dalliances from me,” Anne Douglas, 98, writes in Kirk and Anne: Letters of Love, Laughter and a Lifetime in Hollywood, a new book out Tuesday that reveals intimate letters between the longtime couple. “As a European, I understood it was unrealistic to expect total fidelity in a marriage.”
This “European” attitude toward love created the space for their unconventional romance to bloom. When they first met, the German-born Anne married a Belgian friend during World War II for safety reasons, and the already-divorced Kirk was “secretly engaged” to actress Pier Angeli.
“This self-possessed beauty was very different from the women I had been involved with in Hollywood since Diana [his ex-wife] left me,” writes Kirk.
He and Anne met in Paris in the early 1950s while he was there for a film and she was helping with press. When he first asked her on a date, she refused him.
“The fact that I didn’t impress her certainly impressed me,” Kirk once wrote in an article about his long-lasting marriage, “and I was determined to win her over.”
“[Anne] wasn’t neurotic like Gene Tierney, who always insisted I arrive for our nocturnal ‘dates’ by climbing the tree outside her bedroom window,” Kirk writes in the new book. “She wasn’t reckless like my much-married oil heiress, Irene Wrightsman, whom I found in our bed with Sydney Chaplin when I came home early from the studio.”
“When things got a little too warm between us, [Kirk would] say, ‘Don’t forget, I’m engaged,’ ” said Anne while reflecting on the early stages of their relationship in a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times. “I said, ‘I won’t forget.’ ”
Kirk eventually broke off the engagement to Angeli, and Kirk and Anne wed in May 1954 after she threatened to leave him. The actor recalls seeing Anne packing her bags and realizing he would be “lost without her.” (The pair went on to have two sons together, Eric and Peter, who joined Kirk’s two sons from his previous marriage — Joel and Oscar-winning actor Michael Douglas.)
There may have been a wedding, but that didn’t mean their interactions with ex-lovers were over — a fact Kirk initially documented almost 30 years ago.
“Kirk secured my permission before including stories of his trysts in his 1988 autobiography, The Ragman’s Son. I’m positive his candor helped him make the book a major bestseller,” Anne writes in the new book.
She also reveals that she’d remained friends with a “former lover,” and visited him in Paris while she was applying to become an American citizen. Once, when she visited him in his hotel suite, he was intoxicated and begged her not to return to Kirk.
“In no mood to be reasonable, he ran to the open window and started climbing through it, swearing he would jump unless I changed my mind. I pulled him away and tried to leave,” writes Anne. “This elegant man, whom I had known so well, lunged at me with a lit cigarette. ‘I’ll make sure he doesn’t want you,’ he snarled as he ground it into my face.”
Anne writes that she had a doctor come in to sedate her ex and treat her face. After she shared this story with her husband, he took her in his arms.
” ‘I promise, Anne, ‘as long as we both shall live,’ I will keep you safe,’ ” Anne recalls Kirk saying to her.
She adds, “It’s been sixty-two years as I write this, and Kirk has always kept his word.”
Kirk Douglas on wife Anne: "The most difficult woman I ever met!"
- Created on Sunday, 30 April 2017
- Written by Andrea Mandell
--USA Today April 30, 2017
BEVERLY HILLS — A romantic interlude with Kirk Douglas or a night in with a plate of eggs?
The woman who captured Spartacus' heart opted for the eggs.
Douglas, who turned 100 in December, and his wife, Anne, 98, have been married for 63 years. But when they met on the Paris set of Act of Love (she, a film publicist, he, a famous film star), “she was terrible!” he recalls, sitting for a joint interview with Anne in their stylish living room.
“She was the most difficult woman I ever met. I mean, I was a big movie star! And I invited her to dinner and she said, 'Oh thank you very much, but I’m so tired —' "
Their sour meet-cute is detailed in Kirk and Anne: Letters of Love, Laughter, and a Lifetime in Hollywood (Running Press). The book is "my last," says Kirk. Co-written with his wife, it reveals candid letters the couple sent each other during their courtship and marriage.
Today, Anne, a colorful silk scarf wrapped around her neck, remembers their fateful meeting differently. With Kirk on the lookout for a bilingual press aide (Anne was fluent in German, French and English), she was led to his dressing room, coined “the lion’s den” by her cinematographer guide.
The movie star “took a look at me and then he said, ‘Would you like to have dinner tonight with my friends at some chic restaurant?’ And I said, 'No, thank you, I think I’ll go home and make myself some scrambled eggs.' ”
“Well,” she adds, “that was not what he expected.”
Kirk jumps in. “And to myself I said, 'You b----!' ” he says. Everyone — the couple's aides gathered in a corner, the onlookers from the publishing house, this reporter — breaks out in surprised laughter.
Kirk hired Anne, but things stayed platonic. "With no romance in the picture, I stopped trying to impress Anne," Kirk writes in their book. "Instead, I stopped talking about myself and began to listen to her."
Anne devilishly invited all his latest Parisian conquests over to his apartment on his birthday. Weeks later they attended a charity gala held at a circus, and Anne watched Kirk willingly jump into the fray, scooping elephant dung while wearing his tuxedo.
"That’s what got me,” says Anne today. “It was not only funny, it was showing me that he was able to do things that are not expected from him.”
But the lesson, to be blunt? Anne didn’t take any crap. “That’s right,” Kirk nods. “And she still doesn’t.”
Writing Kirk and Anne, the legendary actor's 11th book, was not the original plan. The star intended to publish a book full of letters he received from celebrities and dignitaries all over the world, including Frank Sinatra, Henry Kissinger, Tony Curtis and Barack Obama. Anne retrieved a box in which she kept important documents — including their old love letters.
"Darling," Kirk writes in the spring of their courtship, after a fight. "I have a feeling you're not coming back tonight. I hope I'm wrong! It's been a bad day for me and probably a worse one for you ... but I hope that you are here to read this and that I find you when I get back. Suddenly it seems stupid that I am going to dinner without you — Because believe it or not I love you!"
Kirk and Anne married in May 1954 and welcomed their son Peter the following year, but often were separated, thanks to his film shoots.
In May 1956 Anne, with a 5-month-old at home, closed out her contract with the Cannes Festival. "I am so sad and depressed — I don't think I ever wanted to be near you as much as right now," she writes. "The toilet paper is too hard, the coffee is too strong ... the telephones are impossible. Don't I sound like a true American? But even being a European broad, what on Earth am I doing here!!!"
Sifting through their fervent transatlantic writings, “I thought, 'My god, they don’t write letters anymore,' ” says Kirk.
Letters are "so personal, something that touches you or disappoints you," says Anne. "But today, you get an email. It does nothing to you! It’s cold. It’s the new world. I like the old world better."
And so the focus changed.
Wives of famous men are generally glossed over in the history books; it’s partly what makes Kirk and Anne such a fascinating piece of reclaimed Hollywood history. In early passages, Anne describes her well-heeled life before Kirk, a sharp contrast to his poor upbringing in New York as Issur Danielovitch, where Yiddish was the only language spoken at home. Anne was born in Germany to a successful businessman and was schooled in Switzerland before fleeing the Nazis and moving to Paris.
(Her keen eye would inspire the couple’s vast art collection, leading to a 1990 Christie's sale of their Chagalls, Mirós and Braques, filling coffers of the Douglas Foundation.)
When Anne finally agreed to date Kirk in 1953, his finances were a wreck, a fact unbeknownst to him. It was her questioning of his business manager that ultimately revealed her movie star beau was flat broke.
“So I’m going out with a man that’s poor?!” Anne recalls her shock, realizing their lavish life was funded not by Kirk, but by Hollywood studio daily allowances. "That is when my business education from my father rose to the surface, and I got somebody very knowledgeable about how to invest the salary that he gets when he makes a movie. It became a success. Today he is very, very philanthropic.”
On a warm afternoon, the two sit comfortably side-by-side, glasses of water on small tables within reach, an impressive pot of white orchids on the coffee table. Kirk’s 1996 stroke, from which he had to completely rebuild his ability to speak, slows his speech considerably, but the centenarian's faculties are razor sharp, as are Anne’s — proving it amusing, to say the least, to watch them razz each other.
At one point, Kirk reaches for his wife’s water. “You have some on your side,” she chides. “Oh!” he replies. "Yes.” Anne peeks impishly at him. “Mine tastes better," she says.
Kirk still refers to the time his wife refused to let him travel on a private plane from Palm Springs to New York with director Mike Todd (then married to Elizabeth Taylor), where Douglas was to present the director with an award. “My wife says, 'Why don’t you take a regular airplane?' ” recalls Kirk. “She kept insisting. And we had a big fight. I said, “ 'OK, I won’t go.' But I was very mad at her.”
On the car ride back to Los Angeles, “we didn’t talk,” says Anne, so Kirk turned on the radio to fill the silence. That’s when news broke that Todd’s plane crashed and everyone aboard was killed. “She saved my life,” he says.
How did Anne know to put her foot down? “I didn’t like private planes. Because I was afraid. Now, I’ve changed completely,” she laughs. “Sixty years have passed by and I like them!”
The past weaves with the present as they tell tales of their grandchildren (like everyone else's, glued to iPhones), the Space Race era that found Russian cosmonauts surreptitiously filling orange juice glasses with vodka in their living room, goodwill trips around the world and Sinatra cooking Italian suppers in their kitchen. “I was not a good cook,” says Kirk. “I was a good helper. He was a good cook.”
For those wondering, yes, Anne knew of her husband's marital transgressions, she writes in Kirk and Anne. "As a European, I understood it was unrealistic to expect total fidelity in a marriage," she writes. Her famous husband told her about those dalliances "himself, because I wanted to hear it from him directly, not via an idle piece of gossip."
Framed family photos decorate various surfaces, and as this reporter exited, Michael Douglas was striding in. Douglas, whose mother is Kirk's first wife, Diana Dill, writes the foreword to Kirk and Anne. (Anne and Kirk also had son Eric, who died in 2004; Kirk also fathered producer Joel Douglas with Dill.)
The couple still speaks French together occasionally at home (“not all the time,” says Kirk, “because my wife is so much better than I am”) and follows the news closely. Kirk, a longtime Democrat, says President Trump “better improve. … I hope he does better than he has. Because he has made a lot of mistakes.”
Politics bubbles up at the close of the day, "because whatever goes on in the world, including in this country, we talk about it," says Anne. "Because we feel sorry for the next generation. Because we have known the better life, the better years. And they are gone. And they won’t come back.”
“You’re a pessimist!” exclaims Kirk.
Technology to the rescue. “I gave him the iPad for his 100th birthday,” says Anne. “Every night we always have our what we call ‘golden hour’ about 6, 6:30 until 7:15 p.m., and then dinner. And during this golden time we each have our drink and used to talk about what happened during the day.
“Nowadays he takes his iPad that I gave him, I take my iPad and we both look at CNN or something like that. And we don’t talk!”
Now that is a modern marriage.
Classic Hollywood: Kirk and Anne Douglas' lifetime of love is captured in their letters
- Created on Sunday, 30 April 2017
- Written by Susan King
--Los Angeles Times April 29, 2017
On screen, Kirk Douglas was a legendary tough guy. But in his real life he wasn’t afraid to express his emotions, especially to his wife, Anne.
That sensitive side is on display in the book “Kirk and Anne: Letters of Love, Laughter, and a Lifetime in Hollywood,” which comes out next week. For example, there’s a letter Kirk wrote to Anne while in Munich filming Stanley Kubrick’s stark 1957 drama “Paths of Glory.”
How is it that when I am away from you, such love for you overwhelms me at 2:30 in the morning-as it is now-I awake to write to you. How incomplete I seem without my family. How can a man live alone? To live just for yourself is to be dead. And yes I welcome this parting from you to to rekindle my awareness of how much you mean to me.
The early hour brings out the poetic side of me.”
To be sure, the Douglas’ nearly 63-year marriage had its ups and downs. Kirk Douglas cheated on his first wife Diana Dill, who is son Michael’s mother, and early in their marriage was unfaithful to Anne. In an interview a few years ago Anne said: “After 60 years of marriage, you go through a lot of obstacles — and all of them were beautiful.”
But they are soul mates who dealt with the untimely death of their younger son Eric, who was bipolar and struggled with drug addiction; her breast cancer; and his 1996 stroke, which affected his speech. And on this sunny afternoon they couldn’t be closer, sitting side by side on the sofa of the living room of their art-filled Beverly Hills ranch home. Anne uses a walker because she broke her hip; Douglas has a walker with wheels and, true to form, he rushes into the living room like a speed demon.
The book not only features their letters but interviews that were conducted separately about their lives.
“Kirk always said a novel, you tell the truth; a biography, you lie,” said Anne. But in the case of this book, said Kirk, they have both told the truth.
Originally, Kirk wanted to write a book about the letters he had written and received from “all over the world. Suddenly, I came across a letter that my wife had written to me 50 years ago. I said ‘it’s too bad we don’t have letters of 50, 60 years ago.’ She said, ‘I have them. She has this big box of letters. I said ‘Let’s make a book of that.’”
Anne is the more practical of the two; Kirk is more off the cuff. And those differences have led to arguments — with Anne’s instincts winning most of the battles.
“She saved my life,” said Kirk. Back in 1958 they had a home in Palm Springs next to good friends Elizabeth Taylor and her producer-husband Mike Todd. Douglas was asked by Todd to accompany him to New York on a small plane.
“He was going to go to New York to get an award and he asked me to present it to him,” he recalled.
“First you wanted to go because he was going to stop in Independence, Mo., to see President Truman and then go to New York to present the award,” noted Anne.
But Anne had a strange feeling about the flight and told him not to take it.
“She talked me out of it,” said Kirk. “I said, OK, I won’t go.’ I was so mad. The next day we were driving back to L.A. and I turned on the radio and it said Mike Todd’s plane crashed. Everybody was killed.”
It was not love at first sight for the two. The German-born Anne Buydens lived in Paris when she met Douglas.
“I had done the public relations in Paris on ‘Moulin Rouge,’” Anne said. “I worked with John Huston for about year. I had another movie to do after ‘Moulin Rouge.’ The director [Anatole Litvak] wanted me to be the PR lady on the movie ‘Act of Love’ with Kirk Douglas.”
A photographer friend on the movie took her to meet Kirk. “He said, ‘Come on, let me take you to the lion’s den,”’ recalled Anne; Kirk had been photographed in the Paris press with a succession of beautiful women.
Kirk admitted “when I first asked her to work for me, she said no. I was surprised.” Eventually, though, she agreed to work on a trial basis.
“Then we were very good friends,” said Anne. “I promised myself I wouldn’t get involved with such a handsome man, knowing he was to go back to America.” Especially since Douglas was then engaged to the young actress Pier Angeli, whom he met on the 1953 film “The Story of Three Loves.”
“When things got a little too warm between us, he’d say ‘Don’t forget, I’m engaged,’” said Anne looking over at a smiling Kirk. “I said ‘I won’t forget.’’’
But that all changed of course — and the rest is history recorded in these letters.
“Kirk and Anne: Letters of Love, Laughter, and a Lifetime in Hollywood”
Running Press, $25
Kirk Douglas says he would be lost without his wife Anne
- Created on Wednesday, 12 April 2017
- Written by Peter Sheridan
----The Express April 8, 2017
He pushes his wheeled walker before him like a chariot, head held high, steering across the living room’s hardwood floor to the champagne-coloured heavy silk couch in his Beverly Hills mansion, easing himself into the oversized plumped-up sofa.
His tanned face is slack with a century of weathering.
His speech is slow, slurred by the vestiges of a stroke two decades ago.
The star of Spartacus, The Bad And The Beautiful and Lust For Life feels every one of his 100 years.
Yet in his sparkling blue eyes there is no mistaking the love as Kirk Douglas gazes at Anne, his wife of 62 years. “I owe her so much,” says Kirk, who turned 100 in December.
“I wouldn’t be where I am today without her. It will be 63 years next month. My god, how did it happen?”
Anne smiles: “You say ‘yes, darling’ a lot. We have a great relationship and have trusted each other, rightly or wrongly,” she says with a mischievous grin, taking his hand.
“We’re there for each other with love and enormous friendship.”
The room is elegantly stocked with paintings, sculptures and flowers but it was in a forgotten corner of a cupboard that Anne found the sweetest remembrance of their romance: a treasure trove of love letters dating back to 1953.
Those billet-doux and other intimate notes have been compiled into a touching and at times brutally honest new book, Kirk And Anne, offering an insight into one of Hollywood’s longest marriages.
“I had no idea she had kept them all these years,” says Kirk.
“I said, ‘We have to make this into a book.’”
But their correspondence also shows that the course of their true love did not always run smooth.
Recently divorced from Diana Dill, with whom he had sons Michael and Joel, Kirk was filming in Paris in 1953 when he hired German-born Anne Buydens as his trilingual personal secretary.
They soon began an affair even though he was seriously romancing Italian screen siren Pier Angeli.
“Anne was a sophisticated woman, unlike my virginal Pier Angeli, who took her mother on all our dates,” Kirk recalls.
He grew closer to Anne but: “I warned her not to expect a commitment. I was secretly engaged to Pier Angeli. I cannot believe how insensitive I was. I asked Anne to come to Bulgari and help me choose an engagement ring for Pier. She did it without a murmur but she must have been seething inside.”
Anne admits: “This was a particularly painful period for me... Kirk never tried to hide his dalliances from me.”
Confesses Kirk: “I was very active and saw lots of women.”
But Anne got her revenge.
“I threw him a surprise birthday party in his Paris apartment and invited every woman that he had had an affair with or took out, all standing in a long line when he arrived,” she laughs.
“Kirk opened the door, looked at the line-up and, smiling, whispered to me, ‘You b****!’”
Kirk proposed to Angeli in Paris on her 21st birthday but when she said yes Kirk lost all interest.
“Over dinner, knowing there were no obstacles to a night of passion, I fell out of love with her. I was bored with the conversation. Also there was no chemistry between us when we kissed as the clock struck midnight. I broke off our engagement.”
Liberated, he wrote dozens of passionate notes to Anne from distant film locations.
From Acapulco he wrote: “How I wish you were here. The bed next to mine is empty – and I wish you were in it.”
They exchanged letters in fluent French, German and English.
He called her “Darling” and “Stolz,” meaning “haughty”. She called him “Mein Liebling,” “Mon Cheri” and “Mon Amour”.
Yet still Kirk saw other women despite his letters to Anne: “I have been dating very little... Come to me, darling. My heart is empty and I need you near.
”After a year of their affair Anne gave Kirk an ultimatum, threatening to leave for ever: “I allowed you during this time to push me around emotionally and, if I don’t want to get hurt for good, I have to stop you from starting it again.”
Days later Kirk found Anne packing her bags. “That’s when it hit me,” he says.
“I would be lost without her. If she got on that plane she would never give me another chance. Suddenly, blessed with clarity, I asked Anne to marry me.”
They planned a whirlwind Las Vegas marriage that weekend.
“It wasn’t a romantic wedding but it was legal,” he says.
Yet because of visa delays Anne had to remain apart from Kirk for two months after their wedding, inspiring some emotional missives.
In one cable Kirk wrote of his frustration as their separation dragged on: “Have all the clocks in the world stopped running, is the earth no longer revolving on its axis, let’s give it a shove, Kirk.”
In another letter he wrote: “I miss you so much my darling. And I need you so much. I want our marriage to be a very happy, successful one.”
In Germany filming Stanley Kubrick’s The Paths Of Glory, Kirk wrote at 2.30am: “How incomplete I am without my family. How can any man live alone?”
Kirk waves a gnarled finger at me across the coffee table littered with orchids.
“Two things happened to make her my partner for life,” he says.
“She was suspicious of my business partner and it turned out he had taken all my money. I was broke but would never have known without Anne. Then she stopped me getting on a private plane to New York with Elizabeth Taylor’s husband, producer Mike Todd. Anne insisted, ‘I don’t want you on that plane.’ “She told me to fly commercial – and Todd’s plane crashed, killing everyone aboard. She saved my life. Now I always trust her intuition.”
On July 19, 1958 he wrote: “How often I think that if I weren’t married to you I’d be in awful shape. I’d be a bum and a drunkard without you. And the awful thing is I keep needing you more and more as I get older!”
Kirk smiles: “That’s still true.”
The couple, who had sons Peter and Eric together, the latter dying of an overdose aged 46, still make a handsome pair: Kirk in a baby blue sweater and black trousers, Anne in beige trousers and matching cardigan over a black jersey.
Yet they sit in a living room with no movie posters or awards from his 90 films over 60 years in Hollywood.
“It no longer gives me pleasure to look at the signed posters of my movies hanging there,” he says.
“I’ve outlived many of the friends I worked with and I miss them.”
After his massive stroke in 1996 Kirk admits contemplating suicide: “Feeling so sorry for myself I pulled out the gun I had saved from Gun- fight At The OK Corral to kill myself.”
But reviewing his life he realised: “I had been lucky – even with my stroke... Thank god for Anne’s tough love or I would have wallowed forever in self-pity.”
Their love is undiminished today, says Kirk: “We have been married more than 62 years and my unabated admiration and need for this remarkable woman still astounds me.”
Anne agrees: “This is the story of an unending love affair."
“Love you,” says Kirk, smiling. “Love you more,” Anne replies, getting the final word.
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.