In his very first movie, Hollywood recognized Kirk Douglas would be a star. Not only could he speak, his edgy impassioned portrayals saw him quickly cast alongside Hollywood heavyweights.
For decades he was one of America’s leading men handsome charismatic strong. Douglass’s energy and intensity lit up the screen. Born in 1916 in upstate New York, The son of immigrant Russian Jews, he was married twice and had four sons.
His most famous role was Spartacus, a slave who leads a revolt against the corrupt Roman Empire. The epic cemented Douglass’s place among Hollywood’s most respected actors but making Spartacus was also a turning point in 1950’s America.
Douglas could play at light or musical but he was usually tough and temperamental. Playing a troubled boxer brought him his first Oscar nomination. With steel jaw, raspy voice and undeniable charisma, his explosive characters were riveting.
His career spanned five decades acting, producing even directing. A stroke seriously impairing his ability to speak. Two months after that stroke, Kirk Douglas stood before his peers at the Oscars and received a Lifetime Achievement Award.
Most expected him to say only thank you and step down, instead his speech turned out to be one of the most dramatic moments of Academy Award history.
Even approaching 100, he was still active with many charities. His legacy includes his son Michael Douglas, himself a famous actor.
One of the last stars from Hollywood’s golden era movie-goers knew what they were getting in a Kirk Douglas film and they loved what they got from Kirk Douglas.