Happy 100th Birthday, Kirk Douglas!
A Tribute to a Hollywood Legend
Kirk Douglas and that famous chin dimple that set hearts aflutter for decades turned 100 years old today. The Hollywood legend will celebrate in style at a fete in Beverly Hills which will be hosted by his son Michael and include partaking in one glass of vodka, with his doctor's permission.
Growing up in a large family in Amsterdam, New York in what Douglas (originally born Issur Danielovitch) described as "abject poverty" as the son of an immigrant rag collector, he made his way to St. Lawrence University and then on to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. At the Academy, Douglas was a classmate of Lauren Bacall. She would later recommend him to Hollywood power producer of the time Hal Wallis who gave the actor his first screen role as Walter O'Neil in The Strange Love of Martha Ivers. And so Douglas' 70-year career in Hollywood was launched.
And what a career it has been with Douglas appearing in over 70 films, as well as being nominated for Academy Awards for his work in The Bad and the Beautiful as a heartless Hollywood executive and again in Lust for Life for his thoughtful portrayal as the anguished artist Vincent van Gogh. Douglas was also an outspoken critic of the rampant blacklisting against Communism and communist sympathizers, which he detailed in his book I Am Spartacus!: Making a Film, Breaking the Blacklist.
Douglas' continued commitment to philanthropic causes has not wavered throughout the years. In 2015 he and his wife of more than 60 years, Anne Douglas, donated $15 million to the Motion Picture & Television Fund to aid in the construction of a care center for Alzheimer's patients. The couple has donated over $40 million to the cause to support those with dementia and Alzheimer's. They have also rebuilt hundreds of playgrounds around the Los Angeles Unified School District and established the Anne Douglas Center for Homeless Women.
Warner Bros. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Kevin Tsujihara personally wished the Hollywood legend a happy 100th birthday:
I wanted to take a moment to wish you a happy 100th birthday and congratulate you on reaching this milestone.
In an age when the phrase is probably overused, you truly are an entertainment industry icon, with a career spanning more than seven decades. I’m proud that a number of your films are now part of the Warner Bros. library, including “Lust for Life,” “Seven Days in May” and “The Bad and the Beautiful.” More than 50 years after their release, these classics are still well-regarded by critics and beloved by fans worldwide, which is a real testament to your artistry and talent.
I hope you are able to spend your special day surrounded by loved ones, enjoying the attention and accolades you deserve.
Enjoy this video slideshow featuring Douglas' career highlights from films found in the Warner Bros. library including Out of the Past, Along the Great Divide, Two Weeks in Another Town, The Hook, Seven Days in May, There Was a Crooked Man, The Arrangement and more.