Los Angeles (AP) - Kirk Douglas celebrated his 102nd birthday with family and colleagues. "All my boys and many of my grandchildren will be there," said the Hollywood legend back then the German Press Agency.
"And good friends like Jeffrey Katzenberg, Steven Spielberg and Ron Meyer." His 103rd birthday this Monday (9th December) should be quieter. His father is tired of the big parties, told actor-son Michael Douglas (75) in mid-November in the TV show by Jimmy Kimmel.
He really just wanted a little dinner with the family this time, Kirk had made clear. He also did not want to give another interview this year, as his assistant announced on request.
But his humor has not lost the canvas veteran. For the 19th wedding anniversary of son Michael and daughter-in-law Catherine Zeta-Jones on November 18th, he sent a congratulatory message to the couple, advising his son that a long marriage would only be possible if he obeyed his wife. "Carry on, as I do with my wife," recommended the "Spartacus" star. Actress Zeta-Jones (50, "Ocean's Twelve") posted the letter on Instagram and thanked her father-in-law for the "beautiful" words.
Kirk Douglas has a lot to show in marriage. With his second wife, Anne Buydens, who turned 100 in April, he has been married since 1954, more than 65 years. Two years ago, they published a book based on love letters they had written each other for decades.
Public appearances have become rare, but on special occasions, the star with the distinctive dimples in the chin is still there. In November of last year, he was sitting in a wheelchair on Hollywood Boulevard wearing a light pink shirt and sunglasses, when his son Michael was immortalized on the Walk of Fame with a star near the spot where Kirk has long had a badge. In January 2018, he came on stage at the Golden Globe gala wheelchair to announce the award for Best Screenplay.
From a severe stroke in 1996, he has slowly recovered. In his eighth book, "A Case of Happiness - My New Life After Stroke," he described the difficult recovery. The question of how he feels with age and whether he is bothered by age, he concluded in the last year in a few words. "I never thought I would turn 100, but I can handle it."
His career had to fight hard for Douglas initially. Born to Issur Danielovitch Demsky, the son of Jewish-Russian immigrants, he grew up with six sisters in the slums of the industrial city of Amsterdam, New York. He worked as a janitor and wrestler at fairs while studying drama in New York.
He was lucky after the war. His former classmate Lauren Bacall recommended him to the studio bosses in Hollywood. On the side of Barbara Stanwyck, he debuted as an alcoholic husband in 1946 in the film "The Strange Love of Martha Ivers", followed by roles in "Glass Menagerie" and "Reporter of Satan".
Douglas has made more than 80 films, often with major directors such as Billy Wilder, Howard Hawks, Otto Preminger and Elia Kazan. Alone with his screen friend Burt Lancaster he was seven times in front of the camera - from the gangster drama "14 Years Sing Sing" to the crook comedy "Archie & Harry - you can not help it".
Three times he has had Oscar opportunities: in the role of the reckless-ambitious boxer in «Between Women and Ropes», as a power-hungry producer in «City of Illusions» and for his portrait artist «Vincent van Gogh - A life of passion». The Film Academy finally awarded him in 1996 an honorary Oscar for his life's work.
But his most famous role was that of the legendary slave leader "Spartacus" in the expensive history epic directed by Stanley Kubrick. Douglas, who produced the film with his own company, proved courage at the time. He signed Dalton Trumbo as scriptwriter, although this was on the blacklist of outlawed communist artists and thus had a professional ban. The film won four Oscars in 1961 and was a blockbuster.
Even in old age Douglas is an avowed Liberal. Shortly before the US presidential election in the fall of 2016, he had warned in a blog at the "Huffington Post" of the consequences of a victory by Donald Trump and pointed out the dangers of hate speech and xenophobia. "That's still a concern," Douglas said in a dpa interview a year ago. "The world is a mess, and we have to fix the mess for our children and grandchildren. There are shootings every day, from schools to synagogues. Homeless people are being bullied and killed. The world is so divided, that has to change. "
Catherine Zeta-Jones on Instagram
Kirk Douglas at Huffington Post