Kirk Douglas, the intense, muscular actor with the dimpled chin who starred in “Spartacus,” “Lust for Life” and dozens of other films, helped fatally weaken the blacklist against suspected Communists and reigned for decades as a Hollywood maverick and patriarch, died Wednesday, his family said. He was 103.
“It is with tremendous sadness that my brothers and I announce that Kirk Douglas left us today at the age of 103,” his son Michael said in a statement on his Instagram account. “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.”
Kirk Douglas’ death was first reported by People magazine.
His granite-like strength and underlying vulnerability made the son of illiterate Russian immigrants one of the top stars of the 20th century. He appeared in more than 80 films, in roles ranging from Doc Holliday in “Gunfight at the O.K. Corral” to Vincent van Gogh in “Lust for Life.”
He worked with some of Hollywood’s greatest directors, from Vincente Minnelli and Billy Wilder to Stanley Kubrick and Elia Kazan. His career began at the peak of the studios’ power, more than 70 years ago, and ended in a more diverse, decentralized era that he helped bring about.
Always competitive, including with his own family, Douglas never received an Academy Award for an individual film, despite being nominated three times — for “Champion,” “The Bad and the Beautiful” and “Lust for Life.”
But in 1996, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awarded him an honorary Oscar. His other awards included a Presidential Medal of Freedom and a lifetime achievement award from the American Film Institute.
He was a category unto himself, a force for change and symbol of endurance.
In his latter years, he was a final link to a so-called “Golden Age,” a man nearly as old as the industry itself.
The Associated Press