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Kirk Douglas, the cleft-chinned movie star who fought gladiators, cowboys and boxers on the screen and the Hollywood establishment, died on Wednesday at the age of 103.

Douglas was a Hollywood icon who starred in Spartacus, Gunfight at the OK Coral, Champion, The Bad and the Beautiful and Lust for Life in a long cinematic career.

He was the head of a showbiz family that included his producer sons Joel and Peter, and Oscar winner Michael Douglas.

Video Credit : CNN Kirk Douglas dies at 103

Michael announced his famous father’s death on social media and to People magazine on Thursday morning (Australian time).

“It is with tremendous sadness that my brothers and I announce that Kirk Douglas left us today at the age of 103,” Michael wrote.

“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.”

“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,” Michael added.

He said he is “so proud” to be his father’s son.

Born Issur Danielovitch (later changed to Demsky) in New York, on December 9 1916, Douglas was the only son among seven children of Russian Jewish immigrants.

In his autobiography The Ragman’s Son, he described the abject poverty in which he was raised.

He met his first wife Diana Dill while studying at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. They had sons Michael and Joel, but divorced in 1951.

While working in Europe Douglas met publicist Anne Buydens, whom he married in 1954. They had sons Peter and Eric.

Douglas made his film debut in 1946’s The Strange Love of Martha Ivers with Barbara Stanwyck. His breakthrough came in Champion (1949), where he played an unscrupulous boxing hero and earned his first Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.

His career covered seven decades, and films such as Spartacus and The Vikings made him one of the biggest box-office stars of the 1950s and ’60s.

Among his more than 90 roles, Douglas played a horse rancher in the 1982 Australian film The Man from Snowy River.

His big, macho persona sometimes made people forget his subtle sensitivity in films like Lust for Life, Paths Of Glory and Lonely Are The Brave.

But he personified the image of the manly man, a tough guy with flashes of style and humor. As a producer, he was responsible for intelligent and offbeat fare, including two great films directed by Stanley Kubrick, Paths Of Glory and Spartacus.

Off screen, Douglas had a reputation for being demanding in his heyday in the 1950s and ’60s. But there were other sides to him as well: political activist, charity benefactor, family man, a funny and thoughtful storyteller and an author.

He is credited with helping break the 1950s blacklist when he insisted that Dalton Trumbo (one of the Hollywood 10) be credited for his screenplay on Spartacus.

He was honored by the ACLU with a Bill of Rights Award “for having the courage and conviction to break the infamous Hollywood blacklist and forcing the full recognition of one of its victims”.

In 1991, Douglas was recognized with the AFI Lifetime Achievement Award, and by the Writers Guild of America for breaking the blacklist. Early that year, he nearly died in a helicopter crash.

He suffered a stroke in 1995 and had to teach himself to speak again. He was left with some paralysis in his face. Self-conscious about his slurred speech, he avoided public appearances for months and did not appear in another film until 1999’s Diamonds.

He also embraced his new role as an unofficial spokesman for stroke victims, penning and appearing in a one-man show, Before I Forget, in 2009.

In July 2012, Douglas and his wife Anne announced $US50 million ($A74 million) in pledges to five nonprofit organizations through the Douglas Foundation, founded by the couple in 1964.

They also sponsored more than 240 playgrounds around Southern California.

He is survived by Anne and three of his four sons. Eric Douglas died in July 2004.

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Comments

Rated
8
Richard
ELITE
1211 comments
6 February 2020
RIP Kirk
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Rated
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John
ELITE
303 comments
6 February 2020
This morning I read a wonderful obituary in the BBC and wanted to share some of the key take outs here. His only Oscar was an honorary award but Kirk Douglas became a Hollywood icon, with a film career spanning seven decades. He prided himself on playing the tough guys, the sort of characters he once described as "sons of bitches". He threw himself into his many roles with relish, acting with an intensity that often spilled over into his private life. He began using the name Kirk Douglas while acting during the college break and made his first Broadway appearance under his new name in a small part in a musical. He first made his name as a washed-up boxer, Midge Kelly, in Champion in 1949, which earned him the first of three Oscar nominations. Douglas faded from the big screen in the 1970s but in his later years made a fairly successful comeback in films such as Tough Guys with Burt Lancaster and Greedy with Michael J Fox. Douglas, who was given a lifetime achievement award from the American Film Institute in 1991, suffered a stroke in March 1996 which paralysed one side of his face. But despite the stroke affecting his ability to speak, he was able to give the acceptance speech at the 1996 Academy Awards when he received a special award for "50 years as a moral and creative force in the motion picture community". Kirk Douglas was one of the last great Hollywood stars who began their climb to fame at the end of World War Two and certainly one of the most defiant. "I don't need a critic to tell me I'm an actor," he once said. " I make my own way. Nobody's my boss. Nobody's ever been my boss." He was a legend in his own time. I for one will be looking back at a movies he made with vigour. Rest In Peace JG x
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