Kirk Douglas no more at 103: Meet the star of Hollywood's Golden Age
In one of the biggest losses that Hollywood incurred today, legendary actor Kirk Douglas died at the age of 103 with a career spanning over six decades and having starred in more than 90 films.
Jewish boy in America
Kirk Douglas was born in Amsterdam, New York to Bryna and Herschel Danielovitch. His parents were Jewish immigrants from Chavusy, Mogilev Region, in the Russian Empire. His father's brother, who immigrated earlier, used the surname Demsky, which Douglas's family adopted in the United States.Growing up, Douglas sold snacks to mill workers to earn enough for the family. Later, he delivered newspapers and during his youth he had more than forty jobs before becoming an actor.
The Douglas family
Kirk Douglas had married twice -- first with, Diana Dill, who he married on November 2, 1943. They had two sons, actor Michael Douglas and producer Joel Douglas, before divorcing in 1951. Afterwards, in Paris, he met producer Anne Buydens and they had two sons, Peter, a producer, and Eric.
Kirk was close to Michael and Joel. Michael's wife Catherine Zeta-Jones was very fond of father-in-law and wrote a heartfelt tribute for him when he died.
Highest US honor
Kirk received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Jimmy Carter on 17th January 1981. This is the highest US honor a civilian can receive. In 2002, he received the National Medal of Arts award from President Bush.
Kirk Douglas became a leading box-office star in the 50s and 60's, primarily known for serious dramas, westerns, and war films, including his first starring role in the 1960 film 'Spartacus'.In 1990, he received the French Legion of Honor for distinguished services to France in arts and letters. In 1991, he received the AFI Life Achievement Award. In 1998, he received the Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement Award. he also has a star at Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6263 Hollywood Blvd.
Kirk and Anne
Kirk Douglas met his German wife-to-be, Anne Douglas, when she applied for a job as his assistant on the French location shoot for 'Act of Love'. He had also written a book with his wife, Anne Buydens Douglas, called 'Kirk and Anne: Letters of Love, Laughter, and a Lifetime in Hollywood'.
Having starred in a wide variety of character-driven roles, more than 90 films, he got three Oscar nominations in his lifetime and an honorary Academy Award for his illustrious career.
In 1996, he suffered from a stroke which left him with a blurry speech and damaged facial nerves, two weeks later he attended the Academy Awards to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award.