Hollywood legend Kirk Douglas died Feb. 5, two months after his 103rd birthday. The actor who was known for his tough-guy roles starred in more than 80 movies, but he was perhaps best known as the rebelling Roman slave in “Spartacus.”
Over the years, Douglas was nominated for Best Actor for three films: “Champion” in 1949, “The Bad and the Beautiful” in 1952 and “Lust for Life” in 1956. The Academy gave him an honorary Oscar in 1996.
Douglas’ exploits extended beyond the silver screen, though. He led a fight against Hollywood’s blacklist in the 1950s, and the success of “Spartacus” helped demolish the blacklist — which the film’s screenwriter, Dalton Trumbo, was on at the time. He told NPR, “Sometimes I often think that if I were much older, would I still have done it? Anyhow, I did it. It was an impulsive thing. I’m proud of it. I think it’s one of the good things that I’ve done in life.”
His humanitarian efforts took him to former Iron Curtain countries, where he served as a goodwill ambassador for the U.S. State Department, and Douglas and his wife Anne Buydens spent millions of dollars sprucing up more than 400 playgrounds in California.
In the 1990s, he survived a stroke and a helicopter crash, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
“It is with tremendous sadness that my brothers and I announce that Kirk Douglas left us today at the age of 103. 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,” Michael wrote in the post, which included photos of his father and family. “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.”
Michael continued the post by saying his father’s life was “well-lived.”
“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,” he wrote. “Let me end with the words I told him on his last birthday and which will always remain true. Dad- I love you so much and I am so proud to be your son.”
Michael’s wife, actress Catherine Zeta-Jones, also took to Instagram to pay tribute to her late father-in-law, sharing a photo and writing, “To my darling Kirk, I shall love you for the rest of my life. I miss you already. Sleep tight…”
Zeta-Jones had also paid a tribute to her father-in-law in 2018, on his 102nd birthday, posting a video slideshow on Twitter with moments of his life set to a piano performance of Christina Aguilera’s song “Beautiful.”
“Happy 102nd birthday to the most beautiful man,” she wrote in the caption. “We love you Kirk.”
— Casa Zeta-Jones (@casazetajones) December 9, 2018
Other celebrities have been sharing condolences with the Douglas family.
“Legendary actor Kirk Douglas has passed on today at the age of 103. An Academy Award winning actor and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Douglas was a champion for many just causes and lived a long and storied life,” George Takei wrote on Twitter. “He was adored and beloved, and he shall be missed.”
Legendary actor Kirk Douglas has passed on today at the age of 103. An Academy Award winning actor and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Douglas was a champion for many just causes and lived a long and storied life. He was adored and beloved, and he shall be missed.
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) February 5, 2020
Also taking to Twitter to share his condolences, Rob Reiner wrote, “Kirk Douglas will always be an icon in the pantheon of Hollywood. He put himself on the line to break the blacklist. My love goes out to my friend Michael and the whole family.”
KIrk Douglas will always be an icon in the pantheon of Hollywood. He put himself on the line to break the blacklist. My love goes out to my friend Michael and the whole family.
— Rob Reiner (@robreiner) February 5, 2020
We send our condolences to the Douglas family during this difficult time.