Legendary actor Kirk Douglas was born on December 9, 1916, in New York. He was part of the Golden Age of Hollywood and is cited by many as “all that remains” of that gilded period of showbiz history. Today, Kirk Douglas is turning 100, cementing the incredible feat of outliving his famous contemporaries, including Clark Gable and Humphrey Bogart.
As CNN reports, the decades-spanning career (and now century-long life) of Kirk Douglas has been littered with highs and lows, including three Oscar nominations, the death of his son, multiple legendary roles, and a devastating stroke. Despite his lauded film career, which included such films as Seven Days in May, Gunfight at the OK Corral, and Spartacus, Douglas had a humble beginning. Born to impoverished immigrant Russian-Jewish parents and named Issur Danielovitch, which was Americanized to Izzy Demsky, few could have guessed that Kirk Douglas would be celebrating his 100th birthday as one of most beloved of all Hollywood Royalty.
According to Douglas his love affair with acting began with the thrill of applause, something he got a taste of early and never lost the craving for. Reportedly, that first taste came during a kindergarten recital.
“Something happened when I heard applause. I loved it. I still do.”
In all, Kirk Douglas has starred in over 80 films.
As Times of Israel reports, one of the crowning achievements of Kirk Douglas’ remarkable and lengthy life has been his 63 years (and counting) marriage to his current wife and “soulmate,” 97-year-old Belgian-American Anne Buydens. Anne is not Kirk’s first wife; that title goes to Diana Webster, mother of sons Joel and Oscar-winning Michael Douglas. However, that marriage ended in divorce in 1951.
On May 29, 1954, Kirk Douglas remarried the woman he has called both his soulmate and the secret to his longevity, Anne. The pair had two more sons, Peter and Eric, and have been one another’s rocks for decades in the spotlight. In an essay submitted to magazine Closer Weekly to commemorate his inspiring and iconic 100th birthday, Kirk Douglas lauded his beloved wife, citing their marriage as the vital key to his survival.
“I was lucky enough to find my soulmate 63 years ago, and I believe our wonderful marriage and our nightly ‘golden hour’ chats have helped me survive all things.”
Kirk Douglas and his wife, Anne Buydens, at the premiere of “Spartacus” at the McVicker’s Theater in Chicago: 13 October 1960 pic.twitter.com/sGNPONoTEy— Old Pics Archive (@oldpicsarchive) December 9, 2016
According to his wife, who shared her feelings about her marriage to Kirk Douglas years ago, the feeling is mutual and possibly fraught with delightful anticipation.
“Living with my husband is like sitting in a beautiful garden right next to a volcano that may erupt at any moment.”
In recent years and decades, Kirk and his wife have been dealt a series of blows that have ended Douglas’ career and changed his life. Perhaps most poignant, the pair’s son Eric passed away from an overdose in 2004. He was just 46 years old. Prior to Eric Douglas’ passing, Kirk Douglas was involved in a tragic 1991 helicopter collision that took the lives of two others. Reportedly, that accident caused Douglas to turn back to his Jewish faith and re-evaluate his place in the world.
“I am always asked for advice on living a long and healthy life. I don’t have any. I do believe, however, that we have a purpose for being here. I was spared after a helicopter crash and a stroke to do more good in the world before I leave it.”
In 1996, Kirk Douglas was blindsided by a stroke, the death-blow to his decades-long career. Immediately after the stroke, Douglas was completely unable to speak. He has made some improvements since, but Kirk Douglas’ life as an actor was effectively ended by the health scare.
Actor Kirk Douglas turns 100 today.— Ron Baalke (@RonBaalke) December 9, 2016
Kirk Douglas & Anne Douglas in 1954 & 2008. pic.twitter.com/Ggj6dWYWte
Despite the end of his film career, Kirk Douglas and his beloved wife have continued to make the most of their lives, and they work for the public good. In recent years, Kirk and Anne Douglas have rebuilt hundreds of Los Angeles school playgrounds, founded the Alzheimer’s unit “Harry’s Haven” (Kirk Douglas’ father suffered from Alzheimer’s) at the Motion Picture and Television Fund Home in Woodland Hills, California, and have spoken publicly of donating the vast majority of their impressive combined worth to charity when they pass away.
Reportedly, Kirk Douglas will celebrate his centennial birthday in California at a bash hosted by Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones.
[Featured Image by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP Photo]