Kirk Douglas, actor and father of Michael Douglas, dies aged 103

Kirk Douglas has died aged 103 (Picture: Getty Images)

Kirk Douglas has died at the age of 103.

The actor’s death was announced via TMZ on Wednesday night, which reported his health had been ‘in decline’.

His son, actor Michael Douglas, posted on Instagram: ‘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.

‘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 celebrated his 102nd birthday in December 2018.

The actor, who is the father of Michael Douglas, was best known for his Oscar-nominated role as an unscrupulous boxing hero in 1949’s Champion, as well as his starring role in the 1960 historical epic Spartacus, about a slave who leads a revolt at a gladiatorial school.

Kirk Douglas starred in Spartacus 1960 (Picture: Getty Images)

It won a Golden Globe for best film and four Oscars.

Kirk, who was born in 1916, is known as one of America’s great film stars, having appeared in movies such as Lonely Are The Brave and 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea.

He made his film debut in The Strange Love of Martha Ivers in 1946 and become an international film star throughout the 1950s and 1960s thanks to work in westerns and war movies.

Kirk with his son Michael Douglas (Picture: WireImage)

In 1955, he formed his own production company, Bryna Productions, which helped to release 1957’s Paths of Glory and Spartacus.

He was also credited with helping to break the Hollywood blacklist – the US practice of denying employment to entertainment industry professionals believed to be or to have been Communists or communist sympathisers – by asking Dalton Trumbo write Spartacus and giving him an official credit.

He also worked with the then-relatively-unknown director Stanley Kubrick in both films, taking lead roles.

Kirk Douglas with his wife Anne Buydens and their son Peter Vincent Douglas circa 1963 (Picture: Getty Images)

Kirk received three Academy Award nominations in his lifetime and in 1996 was given an honorary award for 50 years as a creative and moral force in the motion picture community.

In 1981 he was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Jimmy Carter and in 1994 was among the recipients of the annual Kennedy Center Honors.

He recently appeared at the 2018 Golden Globes to present the award for best screenplay, and received a standing ovation when he came out onto the stage.

He received a standing ovation when he came out onto the stage (Picture: Getty Images)

Kirk was given a tribute by his daughter-in-law, Catherine Zeta-Jones, who said: ‘In 1991 my father-in-law, this living Hollywood legend Kirk, was recognised by the Writers Guild of America for his role in ending the Hollywood blacklist.

‘He not only hired blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo to write the epic Spartacus, but he also had Trumbo receive his proper screen credit for his work.’

He recently said that he was ‘shocked’ to have lived to 100.

In an interview with The Guardian, he said: ‘I never, ever thought I would live to be 100. That’s shocked me, really.’

He also admitted that his relationship with son Michael hasn’t always been easy.

He said: ‘Michael didn’t like me much after his mother and I got divorced. It was only when he started acting that we became close.’

Kirk Douglas and son Michael Douglas on set in 1965 (Picture: Getty Images)

Kirk has been married twice, first to Diana, Michael and Joel’s mother, then to his second wife Anne, with whom he had Peter and Eric, who died of an overdose in 2004 aged 46.

In 1991 he was in a helicopter crash which killed two people; the experience sparked a search for meaning by Douglas and led him to embrace the Judaism in which he had been raised.

Anne later converted to Judaism and at the age of 83 he celebrated a second Bar-Mitzvah ceremony.

The actor has also been a life-long philanthropist and it is thought he will be donating much of his $80 million fortune to charity.


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