Remembering Kirk Douglas

“In order to achieve anything you must be brave enough to fail.” – Kirk Douglas

On February 5, 2020, Hollywood icon Kirk Douglas died at the age of 103. The acclaimed actor not only shared his talent on screen but was a hard-working philanthropist and beloved father.

Born Issur Danielovitch, Douglas changed his name while performing in a summer stock troupe that included Karl Malden. He made it official before joining the Navy during World War II.

Years later, Douglas moved to Hollywood in 1945 to make his film debut in The Strange Love of Martha Ivers – a role which he got thanks in part to Lauren Bacall’s casting suggestion to a producer.

The film noir paired him alongside Barbara Stanwyck, who by then had already starred in hits The Lady Eve and Double Indemnity. Kirk described her as professional and an excellent actress. Stanwyck took notice of the up-and-coming actor as well, becoming his friend later in the production.

His other Hollywood friends included Humphrey Bogart, Burt Lancaster, and John Wayne, with whom he made four films, including In Harm’s Way. While others referred to him as “Duke,” Douglas called him “John." He always found it odd that the man known for his tough film persona wouldn’t at least be nicknamed "King" or even "Prince."

Douglas showed great diversity on the screen, tackling action roles such as in Spartacus or dramatic turns as in Lust for Life.

“If I like a picture, I do it. I don't stop to wonder if it'll be successful or not,” he said.

In his more than sixty year career, Douglas was nominated for three Academy Awards for his performances in Champion, The Bad and the Beautiful, and Lust for Life. He received an Honorary Oscar in 1996.

“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 Douglas wrote after his father’s passing.