Anne Buydens: Who Is Kirk Douglas' Wife?

Kirk Douglas has died at the age of 103, according to TMZ. Douglas was a Hollywood icon, becoming one of the industry's most well known and respected actors over a career that covered more than 60 years.

Douglas was married twice in his lifetime. His first marriage was to actress Diana Dill, which lasted from 1943 until 1951 and resulted in the births of sons Michael and Joel. After the dissolution of his first marriage, Douglas met the producer Anne Buydens. The pair would eventually wed and remain together for the rest of Douglas' life. The centennial couple stayed together for more than 60 years, according to The Vintage News.

Anne's Life Took Her From Hanover To Hollywood

American actor Kirk Douglas and his wife Anne at a polo match, UK, July 1987.
Getty Images | Fox Photos/Hulton Archive

Buydens was born Hannelore Marx on April 23, 1919, in Hanover, Germany. As a teenager, her family emigrated to Belgium before she moved to Switzerland for her education, eventually settling in Paris, where her knowledge of languages afforded her steady work doing translations for subtitles with film studios. Buydens and Douglas met when the actor was filming in the city for Lust for Life, a film in which Douglas portrayed the Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh.

Buydens originally denied Douglas' requests for a date due to the actor's reputation for being a playboy, but the two became close in a platonic manner when Douglas hired her to be his publicist. In the couple's joint memoir, Kirk and Anne: Letters of Love, Laughter and a Lifetime in Hollywood, Douglas wrote, "With no romance in the picture, I stopped trying to impress Anne. Instead, I stopped talking about myself and began to listen to her."

Their platonic relationship eventually became romantic and the couple married on May 29, 1954. Buydens would go on to convert to Judaism and would become an American citizen in 1959.

Buydens Stuck With Douglas Through Thick & Thin

Husbands and wives Anne Buydens and Kirk Douglas and (in centre) Eddie Fisher and Elizabeth Taylor with a large cake commemorating the first anniversary of the release of the film 'Spartacus' which Kirk Douglas starred in and for which he was executive producer.
Getty Images | Keystone

A little more than a year after they wed, Buydens gave birth to the couple's first son, Peter Vincent Douglas, on November 23, 1955. The future television and film producer's middle name was a reference to Lust for Life, the film where the pair met. On June 21, 1958, the couple's second son, Eric Anthony Douglas, was born. Eric would go on to have some success as an actor and stand-up comedian before his life was tragically cut short due to an accidental overdose on July 6, 2004.

Buydens was instrumental in Douglas' career. While the actor was one of the most well known in the industry, his poor money management skills left him nearly broke. According to their memoir, Buydens was the one that made Douglas see his manager had been failing him and had wasted a run of successes that should have made him one of the highest-paid actors in Hollywood. She helped Douglas change managers and gain control of his career, allowing him to create his movie company, Bryna Productions, which was behind some of Douglas' greatest works.

In Hollywood, Buydens became both a fashion icon and a well-known philanthropist, with the International Best Dressed Hall of Famer particularly dedicated to the cause of fighting disease. While Buydens was recovering from breast cancer, she was inspired to create the "Research for Women's Cancers" foundation with some fellow survivors. The cause helped finance a research facility at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. She also founded "Harry's Haven," which was an Alzheimer's disease unit at the Motion Picture & Television Fund Home in Woodland Hills. The unit was named for Douglas' father. Buydens and Douglas were also heavily involved in building playgrounds in various areas of Los Angeles.