Kirk Douglas, the icon of cinema, lived an incredibly long life, but sadly he passed away at 103 years old.
His son, fellow actor Michael Douglas, confirmed the news on Instagram:
“It is with tremendous sadness that my brothers and I announce that Kirk Douglas left us today at the age of 103. 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.”
Douglas survived a near-fatal helicopter crash in 1991 and a debilitating stroke in 1996, carrying on for another two decades despite being wheelchair bound in his twilight years. He retired from acting in 2004 with an impressive 80+ film credits to his name. The acting legend also received an honorary Oscar in 1996.
Kirk Douglas was as beloved by his peers as he was by audiences. Steven Spielberg wrote a touching tribute to the “Spartacus” star on Thursday: “Kirk retained his movie star charisma right to the end of his wonderful life, and I’m honored to have been a small part of his last 45 years. I will miss his handwritten notes, letters and fatherly advice, and his wisdom and courage — even beyond such a breathtaking body of work — are enough to inspire me for the rest of mine.”
In addition to his cinematic legacy, Douglas stood up against McCarthy Era blacklisting of Hollywood writers, directors and actors during the height of the Cold War. He risked his career to star in “Spartacus,” written by the blacklisted Dalton Trumbo, and the film ended up being one of the biggest box office successes of the year and remains Douglas’s best-known film. The actor received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Jimmy Carter in 1981.
Born Issur Danielovitch to an impoverished Jewish immigrant family (which included six sisters), Douglas made his mark on Hollywood with a string of westerns, dramas and war movies throughout the 50s and 60s. He also served in the Navy during World War II. In addition, he wrote ten books, including several novels, raised four children, and remained married to his wife, producer Anne Buydens, for 65 years.
Kirk Douglas’ tremendous legacy is nearly unmatched in Hollywood, and as one of the last stars remaining of the Golden Age, he will be missed. As his daughter-in-law, Catherine Zeta Jones, wrote on Instagram: “I miss you already. Sleep tight…”