Remembering a Legend: The Great Kirk Douglas Leaves Us at 103, But He Leaves Us With a Lot

FILE – In this Feb. 23, 1948 file photo, Kirk and Diana Douglas celebrate the completing of her latest picture, “The Sign of the Ram” in Los Angeles. Diana Douglas, the first wife of Kirk Douglas and mother of Michael Douglas, has died in Los Angeles. She was 92. Michael Douglas’s production company says she died of cancer on Saturday at a movie industry retirement home in Woodland Hills.(AP Photo/Ed Widdis, File)

 

 

Very sad news: Hollywood legend Kirk Douglas has died.

But happily, he lived to be an incredible 103.

The news was delivered by People Magazine, via a statement by the icon’s son, actor Michael.

Here are parts:

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

He certainly was from that age of gold. Whenever I saw the aging Mr. Douglas on television, I marveled: I was seeing someone from that past, from the black and white and technicolor world I grew up watching with awe. There he was, in the flesh, in modern clarity and color, still here. Proof that those people and that time were real.

For Michael and family, of course, he was something wholly different. And more:

“[T]o 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.”

Personally, the thing I’ll always remember about the cleft-chinned matinee idol was his fight with the giant squid in 1954’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. I saw that film as a child, and to me, it was the greatest adventure I’d ever laid my young eyes upon.

It was from an era before CGI and limitless cinematic feats, and it moved its audience and its way into the American vault of classic entertainment.

Of course, Kirk made many seminal turns — as Doc Holiday in 1957’s Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, 1960’s title character in Spartacus, Archie Long in 1986’s Tough Guys with Burt Lancaster, and Uncle Joe in 1994’s familyfest — Greedy — to name a few.

In his statement, Michael noted that “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.”

The Romancing the Stone adventurer wrapped his loving tribute to his father thusly:

“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.”

Remembering a Legend: The Great Kirk Douglas Leaves Us at 103, But He Leaves Us With a Lot

Actor Kirk Douglas, center, gets a kiss from his son Michael Douglas, left, and Michael’s wife Catherine Zeta-Jones during his 100th birthday party at the Beverly Hills Hotel on Friday, Dec. 9. 2016, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

In November 2018, Kirk attended Michael’s Hollywood Walk of Fame induction ceremony, where the honoree teared up while acknowledging dear old Dad:

“It means so much to me, Dad, that you’re here today. Thank you for your advice, inspiration, and I’ll say it simply and with all my heart: I’m so proud to be your son.”

Here’s a bit more on Kirk’s career, courtesy of People:

He received his first Academy Award nomination in 1950 for Champion, and was nominated again in 1953 for the Hollywood exposé The Bad and the Beautiful, and once more in 1957 for his performance as Vincent Van Gogh in the biopic Lust for Life.

In 1996, he was awarded an honorary Oscar for 50 years as a creative and moral force in the motion picture community.

Remembering a Legend: The Great Kirk Douglas Leaves Us at 103, But He Leaves Us With a Lot

FILE – In this Sept. 9, 1947 file photo, actors Kirk and Diana Douglas pose with their second son, Joel, for his first portrait in the Hollywood district of Los Angeles. Diana Douglas, the first wife of Kirk Douglas and mother of Michael Douglas, has died in Los Angeles. She was 92. Michael Douglas’s production company says she died of cancer on Saturday at a movie industry retirement home in Woodland Hills.(AP Photo, File)

It was a life well-lived. And from the sound of his son’s remembrance, well-loved.

Thank you, Kirk, for providing us with decades of entertainment, and for so many years to come. You’ll live on, in the films you made and the lives you entertained.

Including mine.

-ALEX

 

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