Kirk Douglas according to Douglas himself

Kirk Douglas has passed away, at the age of 103, the last of the golden Hollywood. It’s what the obituaries say. But there are a multitude of denials.

On the screen, his many other Douglases survive: the gladiator Spartacus, Colonel Dax or the cowboy Jack Burns, among other alter egos gathered in a filmography of some 90 films.

“There is a single thread that unites all his characters,” said director Steven Spielberg when presenting the 1996 honorary Oscar to the actor with the dimple in the chin and prominent jaw, who was denied that award on all three occasions that he was nominated. . “It’s called conscience – he continued -, each of his roles had it. Kirk Douglas never made his characters simple, good or bad. He drew the heroes with doubts and the villains with compassion. ”It was just stating his formula. “When you play a strong character, find his weakness. If it is weak, seek its strength, ”said Douglas.

Before entering the Olympus of glamor, along with Burt Lancaster, Gregory Peck or Lana Turner, just to summarize, his name was Issur Danielovitch, born in 1916 in Amsterdam, New York state. His father was an illiterate, drinker and quarrelsome Russian immigrant, who made a living by taking advantage of what others threw away. “Even in the poorest part of the city, the rag was on the lowest rung of the ladder, and I was the son of the rag,” he wrote in his autobiography The rag’s son (1988).

His family history was the engine that propelled him. “To act is to create an illusion,” he theorized in that volume. During his apprenticeship, he worked more than 40 jobs (newspaper deliveryman or dishwasher). He was able to go to college for a scholarship to be part of the wrestling team. And he decided to be an actor. He moved to the Big Apple. He made his Broadway debut in 1941, although he cut his progression to join the army by World War II.

Prior to his deployment, he married Diana Hill, with whom he had two children, Michael and Joel. They divorced in 1951 and in a second nuptials he joined Anne Buydens, who gave birth to Peter and Eric (who died in 2004). Buydens has survived him, by his side, despite the fact that Douglas had a long list of lovers (Marlene Dietrich or Rita Hayworth, to name a few).

“I’ve made my career playing motherfuckers,” he joked. His film debut came in 1946 with The strange love of Martha Ivers . He was an alcoholic husband. He knew what it was about, he had seen it at home, as a child. He became a star with The clay idol (1949) and his boxer character Kelly. He worked with the best, but if he was proud of anything, it was of their contribution to ending the McCarthyism blacklists. For your production of Spartacus –The Roman legion was made up of 5,000 Spanish soldiers– hired the communist Dalton Trumbo: He put his name on the film and not one of his pseudonyms. “It was an open secret and an act of hypocrisy, as well as the way to achieve talent at a bargain price. I hated being part of that system ”, he recounted in his memoirs I am spartacus (2012).

In 1988 he declared to the magazine People that he was rarely concerned with his legacy or artistic immortality after his death. “When a dog dies, does it go to heaven? Why should we think that we are so special that you can’t just die? ”He wondered. “No,” he added, “we are only here once and once you have the brass ring, the rest is ego.”

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Kirk Douglas according to Douglas himself