- Kirk Douglas has died at the age of 103. His son Michael Douglas confirmed the news in a statement to People.
- The acclaimed actor had multiple iconic roles, including in “The Vikings” and “Spartacus.”
- Douglas earned three Oscar nominations.
Kirk Douglas, a three-time Oscar nominee, died at the age of 103 on Wednesday.
The actor Michael Douglas, his son, made the announcement in a statement to People.
“It is with tremendous sadness that my brothers and I announce that Kirk Douglas left us today at the age of 103,” Douglas said in the statement. “To the world, he was a legend, an actor from the golden age of movies who lived well into his golden years, a humanitarian whose commitment to justice and the causes he believed in set a standard for all of us to aspire to.”
Michael Douglas shared the full statement on Instagram along with photos of his father.
The rest of his message said:
"But to me and my brothers Joel and Peter he was simply Dad, to Catherine, a wonderful father-in-law, to his grandchildren and great grandchild their loving grandfather, and to his wife Anne, a wonderful husband.
"Kirk's life was well lived, and he leaves a legacy in film that will endure for generations to come, and a history as a renowned philanthropist who worked to aid the public and bring peace to the planet.
"Let me end with the words I told him on his last birthday and which will always remain true. Dad- I love you so much and I am so proud to be your son."
Douglas turned 103 on December 9.
Early life and how he found a passion for acting
Born Issur Danielovitch in Amsterdam, New York, in 1916 to Russian Jewish immigrants, Douglas was one of seven children. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter in 2012, Douglas said he dreamed of acting since the second grade.
"I did a play, and my mother made a black apron, and I played a shoemaker," he said. "And my father, who never interested himself in what I was doing, was in the back, and I didn't know it. After the performance, he gave me my first Oscar: an ice-cream cone. I've never forgotten that."
One summer while working at a summer playhouse, he met another actor (Karl Malden) who had changed his own name, which led Douglas to change his. He would later legally become Kirk Douglas before entering the Navy in World War II.
Before entering the war, Douglas had been a student at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, where he met a friend who would later be known as Lauren Bacall. Douglas tried to get acting jobs after the war ended and managed to secure small stage roles and in commercials, but he was still struggling.
Bacall, who had found success in Hollywood, convinced a producer to watch Douglas perform. Douglas ended up booking 1946's "The Strange Loves of Martha Ivers" as his first movie.
Success and Oscar nominations
He continued acting in supporting roles, but his life changed drastically after he was cast in "Champion." Douglas earned his first Oscar nomination for his lead role as a boxer. He earned two additional nominations in the '50s for "The Bad and the Beautiful" and "Lust For Life."
Other movie roles included "The Vikings," "Spartacus," and "Seven Days in May," which were all released through his own production company. He also filmed numerous movies alongside Burt Lancaster, including "I Walk Alone" and "Gunfight at the OK Corral."
The actor was honored with an honorary Oscar in 1996.
He continued to act in a few projects through the 2000s, with his final performance in 2008's "Empire State Building Murders."
Personal life and family
Douglas married the actress Diana Dill in 1943. They had two sons: Michael, an actor, and Joel, a producer. They divorced in 1951. Shortly afterward, Douglas met the producer Anne Buydens, and they married in 1954. They had two more sons: Peter, a producer, and Eric, who died in 2004.
Buydens and Douglas published a book together in 2017. In it, Buydens wrote about her husband's affairs.
"Kirk never tried to hide his dalliances from me," Buydens wrote. "As a European, I understood it was unrealistic to expect total fidelity in a marriage."
The couple stuck together and renewed their vows in 2004 for their 50th anniversary.
He is survived by Anne and his sons Michael, Joel, and Peter.
The actor was injured in a 1991 accident when a helicopter he was in collided with a small plane. Two men in the plane were killed in that crash. A few years later, in 1996, the actor had a stroke, which left his voice slurred.
Since 1988, the actor examined his life in a number of memoirs. He published 12 books before his death, including a few novels. The centenarian told The Guardian in 2017 that he never expected to live as long as he did.
"I never, ever thought I would live to be 100," he said, going on to cite some of the close friends he had lost over the years. "That's shocked me, really. And it's sad, too."