Actor Kirk Douglas dies at 103

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Keira McTyre

    Famous actor, Kirk Douglas, died February 5, 2020 of old age in Los Angeles. He was born on December 9, 1916 in Amsterdam, New York.   As the son of Jewish Russian immigrants, he was born in Amsterdam, New York under the name of Issur Danielovitch, which got shortened to Izzy Demsky and eventually changed to Kirk Douglas. While attending the St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York, he worked as a waiter, a bellhop, an usher, and a professional wrestler. He also went to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. He also performed on Broadway for a brief amount of time. After serving in the US Navy, he made his first Hollywood film, The Strange Love of Martha Ivers, in the year 1946. Three years later, he earned his first Academy Award nomination for playing in Champion. 

     The two most popular movies he starred in were Lust for Life and The Bad and the Beautiful. He earned Academy Awards for both. People nicknamed him “The star of Hollywood’s golden age.” Douglas was in at least 58 movies, playing characters with tragic flaws.

     Douglas suffered a stroke in 1996. He made a long and difficult recovery, going back into the public in 2011, walking with a cane. Five years before that, he survived a helicopter crash. The helicopter was flying its normal route when it flew into the path of a Pitts aerobatic plane, the helicopter slicing over the fuel tank and exposing the gas to the air. The plane exploded, causing both aircraft to fall forty feet into tarmac. Two people died, and the other two were injured. Douglas was alive, but unconscious. He was pulled from the helicopter right before it exploded. That day changed his life. He became more religious and thankful for life, even though he suffered through survivor’s guilt. But the crash didn’t only affect his mental state. He had many rib and back injuries, so much to where he lost three inches of height and suffered back pain for the rest of his life. 

     Douglas was a family man. He married twice and had four children. His first wife’s name was Diana Douglas. Diana said they divorced because

     “We had brought to marriage such different concepts of what it constituted, what was expected due,”

     Diana and Kirk had two kids. Michael and Joel Douglas. Three years after Diana and Kirk divorced, Kirk married a woman named Anne Buydens. Together, they had two boys. Eric and Peter Douglas. All four boys went into either acting or producing. Eric died at age 46 of an accidental overdose.

     Michael Douglas was the one who broke the news of his father’s death. 

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

     “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,”