One of Hollywood’s most famous actors, Kirk Douglas, father to actor Michael Douglas, has died. He was 103 years of age.
The actor, producer, author, and director was the star of many memorable films, including “Champion,” “The Bad and the Beautiful,” “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,” “Lust for Life,” “Gunfight at the O.K. Corral” and “Spartacus,” died on Wednesday, Feb. 5.
Michael, his son, announced his father’s death on Instagram on behalf of the family. “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 wrote.
“He’s completely inspirational,” Michael said during an interview at the 2017 TCM Classic Film Festival. “When you finally reach an age when you’re not feeling like you have to compete with your father and you can look at him [as an equal] … of course, that took me until I was 60.”
In 1996, Douglas suffered a severe stroke, but the determined beloved tough guy with a passion for life fought his way back to health and lived another 24 years as the patriarch of the Douglas family.
Douglas was effective in helping to break the infamous Hollywood blacklist in the mid-20th century during the Cold War when legendary screenwriter Dalton Trumbo was given the job for the film “Spartacus.”
President Jimmy Carter awarded Douglas, a committed philanthropist, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, in 1981.
“I’ve known Kirk Douglas personally and appreciate his friendship,” Carter said. “But more than that, I have known how dedicated he is to using his talent as an actor and a director and the esteem with which he’s held by his own people in spreading the good news about this country and explaining our purposes, our ideals, our commitments, and our achievements, our hopes, and our dreams to people around the world.”
Nominated three times for best actor by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences—for “Champion” (1949), “The Bad and the Beautiful” (1952) and “Lust for Life” (1956)—Douglas was the recipient of an honorary Oscar in 1996.
Douglas and his wife donated $15 million toward a new $35 million care center at the Motion Picture Television Fund home in Woodland Hills, as a celebration of his 99th birthday.
He was the last man standing from all great stars from a time past.