As Kirk Douglas turns 100 years old, the veteran actor and former leading man opens up about his Hollywood legacy with as many sordid tales about his womanizing past as he has about his silver screen triumphs. There has always been an interest in Douglas’ off-screen exploits, even in the heyday of his career, when he was the top Hollywood grosser and international sex symbol. Hinting that he was still a gentleman in some fashion, Kirk would never share the details of his sexual escapades. Now, as Mr. Douglas reaches his 100th birthday, he opens up about his leading ladies and his timeless cinematic hits.
Spartacus Legend Kirk Douglas Was Always A Ladies’ Man
In 1971, Dick Cavett cornered Kirk Douglas with questions about his leading ladies, and, as New York Post shares, the talk show host was very interested in getting Douglas to fess up about rumors that he had been running around with the likes of Kim Novak and Faye Dunaway. Though Kirk was there to discuss A Gunfight, which had just hit theaters at the time of the interview, Cavett pressed the actor and even went so far as to quote Alfred Hitchcock in an effort to put the actor at ease.
“(Alfred) Hitchcock said in an interview once that it’s very hard for the romance on screen not to carry over into the private lives of the actors,” Cavett said. “Have you found this true?”
Mr. Douglas responded with anger, though there might have been as much humor as genuine offense in his reply.
“An actor is supposed to immerse himself in the role!”
That was as far as Cavett was going to get with Kirk, but, years later, 71-year-old Douglas would write a memoir and confess much about his past, including his marriage infidelities. Kirk admits that he cheated on his first wife and mother of Michael Douglas, Diana Dill, as well as revealing that he had been unfaithful to his current wife, Anne Bydens.
“I’m a sonofab****, plain and simple,” Douglas shamelessly announces in the memoir, The Ragman’s Son.
Among the Hollywood starlets to have succumbed to Kirk’s charm, the Spartacus actor reveals that he had been intimate with Joan Crawford, Linda Darnell, Marlene Dietrich, Rita Hayworth, Evelyn Keyes, Marilyn Maxwell, Patricia Neal, Ann Sothern, and Gene Tierney.
“As I look back, I realize that somehow I was attracted to women who were neurotic,” says Mr. Douglas.
Kirk Douglas Looks Back On A Phenomenal Acting Career
Variety reports Kirk Douglas began his acting career in 1946’s The Strange Love of Martha Ivers and continued acting up through 2008, making Empire State Building Murders, a TV movie, his last project. In between, Douglas made Hollywood history as an actor and as a producer, launching his own production company in 1955, Bryna Productions, which he used to negate the Hollywood blacklist.
Douglas brought in filmmaker Stanley Kubrick for the second film to be produced by his fledgling company, Paths of Glory, and the two headstrong men were soon butting heads. The conflict between Douglas and Kubrick began when Stanley took it upon himself to make major script changes without consulting Douglas. One would think that Douglas would vow to never again work with Kubrick after that first experience, but the opposite was true.
Kirk asked Stanley to direct Spartacus three years later.
“Difficult? He invented the word. But he was talented,” says Douglas. “So, we had lots of fights, but I always appreciated his talent. I always said he was a b—–d, but he was a talented, talented guy.”
The new film was not without further conflicts between Kubrick and Kirk, but the Spartacus producer loved Stanley’s directorial eye too much to part ways. Still, there were some things upon which Douglas held firm. One of those items was what has since turned out to be the most famous scene in the film and one which Kubrick was not particularly overjoyed with having to shoot.
Kirk insisted, however, and he was the boss.
That scene was the one in which Douglas shouts, “I am Spartacus!”
“He didn’t like that scene, but I insisted,” says Kirk. “We had a little argument.”
That was just one of a million memories for Mr. Douglas. It was called the Golden Age of Hollywood and there will never be another one like it, not for Kirk. He still keeps an eye on the entertainment industry, though he has been retired for many years, but Kirk no longer feels like he belongs. Many of the people Douglas once knew are either dead or have retired.
“I am now a hundred years old. I read about Hollywood, and I don’t know the people,” says Kirk Douglas. “Where is Burt? Where is Laurence Olivier? They’re all gone. I miss them. I feel lonely.”
Kirk isn’t always somber and nostalgic, but it’s his birthday and that kind of retrospective is permissible, especially on his 100th birthday.
[Featured Image by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images]