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Kirk Douglas Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (2)  | Trade Mark (4)  | Trivia (104)  | Personal Quotes (59)  | Salary (8)

Overview (4)

Born in Amsterdam, New York, USA
Died in Los Angeles, California, USA  (natural causes)
Birth NameIssur Herschelevitch Danielovitch
Height 5' 9" (1.75 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Cleft-chinned, steely-eyed and virile star of international cinema who rose from being "the ragman's son" (the name of his best-selling 1988 autobiography) to become a bona fide superstar, Kirk Douglas, also known as Issur Danielovitch Demsky, was born on December 9, 1916 in Amsterdam, New York. His parents, Bryna (Sanglel) and Herschel Danielovitch, were Jewish immigrants from Chavusy, Mahilyow Voblast (now in Belarus). Although growing up in a poor ghetto, Douglas was a fine student and a keen athlete and wrestled competitively during his time at St. Lawrence University. Professional wrestling helped pay for his studies as did working on the side as a waiter and a bellboy. However, he soon identified an acting scholarship as a way out of his meager existence, and was sufficiently talented to gain entry into the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. He made his Broadway debut in "Spring Again" before his career was interrupted by World War II. He joining the United States Navy in 1941, and then after the end of hostilities in 1945, returned to the theater and some radio work. On the insistence of ex-classmate Lauren Bacall, movie producer Hal B. Wallis screen-tested Douglas and cast him in the lead role in The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946). His performance received rave reviews and further work quickly followed, including an appearance in the low-key drama I Walk Alone (1947), the first time he worked alongside fellow future screen legend Burt Lancaster. Such was the strong chemistry between the two that they appeared in seven films together, including the dynamic western Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957), the John Frankenheimer political thriller Seven Days in May (1964) and their final pairing in the gangster comedy Tough Guys (1986). Douglas once said about his good friend: "I've finally gotten away from Burt Lancaster. My luck has changed for the better. I've got nice-looking girls in my films now.".

After appearing in "I Walk Alone", Douglas scored his first Oscar nomination playing the untrustworthy and opportunistic boxer Midge Kelly in the gripping Champion (1949). The quality of his work continued to garner the attention of critics and he was again nominated for Oscars for his role as a film producer in The Bad and the Beautiful (1952) and as tortured painter Vincent van Gogh in Lust for Life (1956), both directed by Vincente Minnelli. In 1955, Douglas launched his own production company, Bryna Productions, the company behind two pivotal film roles in his career. The first was as French army officer Col. Dax in director Stanley Kubrick's brilliant anti-war epic Paths of Glory (1957). Douglas reunited with Kubrick for yet another epic, the magnificent Spartacus (1960). The film also marked a key turning point in the life of screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, who had been blacklisted during the McCarthy "Red Scare" hysteria in the 1950s. At Douglas' insistence, Trumbo was given on-screen credit for his contributions, which began the dissolution of the infamous blacklisting policies begun almost a decade previously that had destroyed so many careers and lives.

Douglas remained busy throughout the 1960s, starring in many films. He played a rebellious modern-day cowboy in Lonely Are the Brave (1962), acted alongside John Wayne in the World War II story In Harm's Way (1965), again with The Duke in a drama about the Israeli fight for independence, Cast a Giant Shadow (1966), and once more with Wayne in the tongue-in-cheek western The War Wagon (1967). Additionally in 1963, he starred in an onstage production of Ken Kesey's "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest", but despite his keen interest, no Hollywood studio could be convinced to bring the story to the screen. However, the rights remained with the Douglas clan, and Kirk's talented son Michael Douglas finally filmed the tale in 1975, starring Jack Nicholson. Into the 1970s, Douglas wasn't as busy as previous years; however, he starred in some unusual vehicles, including alongside a young Arnold Schwarzenegger in the loopy western comedy The Villain (1979), then with Farrah Fawcett in the sci-fi thriller Saturn 3 (1980) and then he traveled to Australia for the horse opera/drama The Man from Snowy River (1982).

Unknown to many, Kirk has long been involved in humanitarian causes and has been a Goodwill Ambassador for the US State Department since 1963. His efforts were rewarded with the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1981), and with the Jefferson Award (1983). Furthermore, the French honored him with the Chevalier of the Legion of Honor. More recognition followed for his work with the American Cinema Award (1987), the German Golden Kamera Award (1987), The National Board of Reviews Career Achievement Award (1989), an honorary Academy Award (1995), Recipient of the American Film Institute's Lifetime Achievement Award (1999) and the UCLA Medal of Honor (2002). Despite a helicopter crash and a stroke suffered in the 1990s, he remained active and continued to appear in front of the camera. Until his passing on February 5 2020 at the age of 103, he and Olivia de Havilland were the last surviving major stars from the Golden Years of Hollywood.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: firehouse44

Spouse (2)

Anne Douglas (29 May 1954 - 5 February 2020) ( his death) ( 2 children)
Diana Douglas (2 November 1943 - 23 February 1951) ( divorced) ( 2 children)

Trade Mark (4)

Gravelly voice
Dimpled chin
Frequently played manipulative, angry and often cruel leading characters that bordered on unsympathetic but were always compelling
Showy, flamboyant acting style.

Trivia (104)

In October 1997, he was ranked #53 in Empire (UK) magazine's "The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time" list.
Born Issur Danielovitch (also reported as Issur Danielovitch Demsky) to Jacob Danielovitch and mother Bryna (after whom he later named his production company, Bryna Productions), from Russia, who came to America in 1912.
On January 28, 1996, he suffered a stroke that made this very difficult for him to talk. Speech therapy over the years greatly alleviated the problem.
Received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Jimmy Carter on January 17, 1981. This is the highest civilian honor in the United States.
Turned down two Oscar-winning roles: Lee Marvin's in Cat Ballou (1965) and William Holden's in Stalag 17 (1953).
Earned $50,000 for saying the only English word at the end of a 1980s Japanese television commercial: "Coffee".
Spoke German (fluently, but not accent-free) and French.
He survived a helicopter crash on February 23, 1991, in which two fellow occupants were killed. He was left with a debilitating back injury.
Has celebrated his Bar Mitzvah twice: first (as most Jewish boys do) when he was 13 and later when he was 83.
Received his Bachelor's degree in English from St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York. President of the class of 1939.
Received the Medal of Honor on June 14, 2002 from the University of California-Los Angeles, during the school's graduation ceremony for theater, film and television students. Previous recipients include former US Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres, and actors Laurence Olivier and Carol Burnett.
Inducted into the Hall of Great Western Performers of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum (1983).
Father-in-law of Catherine Zeta-Jones.
Originally cast to play Colonel Sam Trautman in First Blood (1982), but walked out on the project. He wanted substantial changes made to the script, specifically that John Rambo die at the hands of Trautman, like the character did in the novel. The writers held their ground and refused. Richard Crenna was eventually cast in the role.
Was voted the 36th Greatest Movie Star of all time by Entertainment Weekly magazine.
Was named #17 greatest actor on The 50 Greatest Screen Legends list by the American Film Institute.
Wore lifts in many of his films, which made him appear about 5' 11" or 6' 0" on screen. Once, as a prank, Burt Lancaster found his lifts on a film set and hid them from him, which allegedly infuriated him.
In August 1986, he had a pacemaker fitted after collapsing in a restaurant.
Douglas had a fully Jewish upbringing, but did not practice extensively as an adult. This changed when, on his 83rd birthday, he had a second Bar Mitzvah, reaffirming his faith and causing him to practice again.
President of the 'Official Competition' jury at the 33rd Cannes International Film Festival in 1980.
Member of the 'Official Competition' jury at the 23rd Cannes International Film Festival in 1970.
Had appeared with Burt Lancaster in eight films: I Walk Alone (1947), Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957) and The Devil's Disciple (1959), The List of Adrian Messenger (1963), Seven Days in May (1964), Victory at Entebbe (1976), Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (1982) (in archive footage) and Tough Guys (1986).
In 2005, he had both knees replaced against the advice of his doctors. The operation was a success.
After son Michael Douglas was fired from the stage production of "Summer Tree", he bought the stage and film rights to the story and gave it to Michael to star in.
Grandfather of seven children: Cameron Douglas (born 13 December 1978), Dylan Michael Douglas (born 8 August 2000), Carys Zeta Douglas (born 20 April 2003) (children of his son Michael Douglas), Kelsey Douglas (born 1992), Tyler Douglas (born 1996), Ryan Douglas (born 2000) and Jason Douglas (born 2003) (children of his son Peter Douglas).
Former father-in-law of Diandra Luker.
Had appeared in a stage production of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" and later bought the film rights. He didn't make a movie of this and eventually turned the rights over to his son Michael Douglas, who was able to secure financing and produce the film One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975).
If he had not heeded wife Anne Douglas's advice, he would have been on producer Mike Todd's private plane in 1958 when it crashed and killed all on-board. Todd's wife Elizabeth Taylor was also scheduled to be on the plane but canceled due to a bad cold.
Met his German wife-to-be, Anne Douglas, when she applied for a job as his assistant on the French location shoot for Act of Love (1953).
He was awarded the American National Medal of Arts from the National Endowment of the Arts (2001).
Resided in Palm Springs, California, for more than 40 years. In October 2005, the city honored him by naming a lushly landscaped drive "Kirk Douglas Way". It winds around part of Palm Springs International Airport. A lavish ceremony and party was given by the Palm Springs International Film Society and International Film Festival and was attended by Douglas, his wife Anne Douglas and their three surviving sons. His son Joel, also a Palm Springs resident, was responsible for the campaign.
In 1950, he gave up his two- to three-pack-a-day cigarette habit. In 1955, his father later died from lung cancer at age 72.
In 1955, he started his own production company, Bryna Productions--named after his mother--making him one of the first actors to do so.
He and wife Anne Douglas renewed their wedding vows in California around the 50th anniversary of their 1954 marriage. They reaffirmed their vows before 300 friends and family members at the famous Greystone Estate in Beverly Hills. Guests included Dan Aykroyd, Lauren Bacall, Nancy Reagan and Tony Curtis. He walked into the traditional Jewish ceremony to the tune of "I'm in the Mood for Love" and later sang a tune he had written for the occasion, "Please Stay in Love With Me".
Attended the state funeral of former President Ronald Reagan, with Charlton Heston, Tom Selleck and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, on June 11, 2004.
Helped break the Hollywood blacklist by hiring Dalton Trumbo, a member of the "Hollywood Ten", to write the screenplay for Spartacus (1960). Despite widespread criticism from many in the industry, including John Wayne and Hedda Hopper, Douglas refused to back down and Trumbo received screen credit under his own name. When presenting Douglas with an honorary Oscar for lifetime achievement at The 68th Annual Academy Awards (1996), Steven Spielberg publicly thanked Douglas for his courage. However, Otto Preminger had already broken the blacklist by hiring Trumbo for Exodus (1960). Trumbo's family publicly said that Douglas greatly exaggerated his role in breaking the blacklist.
Attended the premiere of Basic Instinct (1992), which starred his son, Michael Douglas.
In 2006, he fell out with his close friend, former President Jimmy Carter, over Carter's book "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid".
His idol was President Harry S. Truman.
Confirmed his retirement from acting after making Illusion (2004), although he did act in one more film, Empire State Building Murders (2008), and has had numerous appearances (as himself) on entertainment and gossip programs, and in documentaries.
While filming The War Wagon (1967) in September 1966, he enraged co-star John Wayne by recording a television commercial endorsing Edmund G. Brown, the Democratic Governor of California, after Wayne had recorded an advertisement for Republican challenger Ronald Reagan.
Admitted he made The Big Trees (1952) for nothing just to get out of his contract with Warner Bros. He later said "It was a terrible movie.".
In his last book, "Let's Face It: 90 Years of Living, Loving and Learning", he expressed regret at turning down William Holden's Oscar-winning role in Stalag 17 (1953), Stephen Boyd's role in The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964), and Lee Marvin's Oscar-winning role in Cat Ballou (1965).
He was originally cast in John Wayne's role in Sands of Iwo Jima (1949), but pulled out in order to make Champion (1949).
He was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6263 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California on February 8, 1960.
Was an avid user of the Internet.
Best of friends with Karl Malden (who was also very close with his son Michael Douglas, with whom he co-starred on The Streets of San Francisco (1972)). After Malden died on July 1, 2009, Douglas remarked that their acquaintance was the longest he had with anyone in his life, lasting 70 years.
Co-hosted (with Cass Elliot) the release party for folk-rocker Donovan's album "Barabajagal" (1969), posing for photos with Donovan and Elliot. He described Donovan as "not just a gentleman, but a gentle man".
Enlisted in the United States Navy in 1941, shortly after the United States entered World War II. He served as a communications officer in submarine warfare. He received a medical discharge in 1944 due to combat-related injuries.
Was not close friends with Burt Lancaster, as was often perceived. Their friendship was largely fabricated by the publicity-wise Douglas, while in reality they were very competitive with each other and sometimes privately expressed a mutual personal disdain despite respecting each other's acting talents.
His acting mentor was Gary Cooper.
Lonely Are the Brave (1962) was his favorite film.
He turned down a key role in The Great Sinner (1949) to star in Champion (1949). He was replaced by Melvyn Douglas.
At the 1987 American Academy of Dramatic Arts tribute to Douglas, Burt Lancaster, said "Kirk would be the first person to tell you he's a very difficult man." After a pause, he added "And I would be the second.".
His father changed the family name from Danielovich to Demsky.
Hedda Hopper told him after he became a star with Champion (1949), "Now that you're a big hit, you've become a real S.O.B." Douglas replied "You're wrong. I was always an S.O.B. You just never noticed before.".
Hal B. Wallis tested him for a role in what would be his film debut in The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946) after a recommendation by Lauren Bacall.
He wrote his autobiography without the help of a ghostwriter--very unusual for a Hollywood biography.
Was signed to play Gabey in On the Town (1949), but had to be replaced because he suffered from a case of psychosomatic laryngitis.
He got out of his contract with Warner Bros. by offering to star in any picture they chose, for no salary. The picture was The Big Trees (1952).
When he was contacted by MGM to replace Ricardo Montalban in The Story of Three Loves (1953) because of his box-office power, he refused until he discussed it with Montalban, who was in training for the role. Although Montalban felt appreciative of Douglas' concern for him, he understood the studio's position and gave up the role.
After winning a scholarship to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York, he found work as a waiter at Schraft's on 86th Street and Broadway. Among the other aspiring actors working there was John Forsythe.
He claimed that painter Marc Chagall asked him to play Chagall in a filmography, but the actor turned him down after the rigors of playing painter Vincent Van Gogh in Lust for Life (1956).
Although he played Ernest Borgnine's son in The Vikings (1958), he was six weeks his senior in real life.
Cowboy Stan Polson, owner of the Apple Valley Stables, taught him how to ride a horse for his role in his first western Along the Great Divide (1951).
Played by Dean O'Gorman in Trumbo (2015).
In June 2013, he publicly called for more gun control in the United States.
His claim to have broken the blacklist by hiring Dalton Trumbo to write the screenplay for Spartacus (1960) was publicly disputed by Trumbo's son and daughter, as well as the film's producer Edward Lewis and Howard Fast's children.
He claimed to be 5' 11" at his peak. However, he was known for wearing lifts, and many sources say his peak height was 5' 8".
In a 2014 article, he cited The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946), Champion (1949), Ace in the Hole (1951), The Bad and the Beautiful (1952), Act of Love (1953), 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954), The Indian Fighter (1955), Lust for Life (1956), Paths of Glory (1957), Spartacus (1960), Lonely Are the Brave (1962) and Seven Days in May (1964) as the films he was most proud of through his acting career.
In 1986, he was the recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor by the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation.
Claimed to have become engaged to Pier Angeli while filming The Story of Three Loves (1953).
Acting mentor of Dana Carvey.
Denied being the "Kirk" in the note written by Jean Spangler shortly before her disappearance after filming Young Man with a Horn (1950).
Was falsely reported to have died in early January 2018.
Became a great-grandfather for the first time at age 101 when his grandson Cameron Douglas and girlfriend Viviane Thibes welcomed a daughter, Lua Izzy Douglas, on December 18, 2017.
Only appeared in one Best Picture Oscar nominee: A Letter to Three Wives (1949).
When he was seeing Diana Douglas, Lauren Bacall learned Douglas had no money and that he had at one point spent the night in jail because he had no place to sleep. She once gave him her uncle's old coat to keep warm.
Before he was a successful actor, he sold snacks to mill workers to earn enough to buy milk and bread to help his family.
His sister, Freida Demsky-Becker (aka "Fritzi") died on September 20, 2015, at age 96.
After his last movie Illusion (2004), he retired from acting at age 87.
His first wife, Diana Douglas, died on July 3, 2015, at age 92.
His wife Anne Douglas long claimed to have been born in 1930. Anne now openly admits that she was actually born in 1919.
Attended and graduated from Amsterdam High School in Amsterdam, New York at age 17 (1934).
His family has a history of its members living long lives.
Through his friend and acting classmate Lauren Bacall he met his first wife Diana Douglas at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City.
Uncle of: Gary, David and Barbara.
Decided to become a professional actor after having acted in high school.
Before becoming a successful actor, he held more than 40 jobs, including delivering newspapers, waiting tables (once in the same restaurant as John Forsythe), doing radio commercials and working in the theater.
He had 18 hobbies (through his long life): exercising, blogging, spending time with his family, swimming, social media, reading, fishing, sailing, horse riding, dancing, politics, painting, philanthropy, golfing, weightlifting, writing, dining and singing.
Son Eric Douglas died on July 6, 2004 of a drug overdose. He was only 46.
Originally planned to remain a stage actor until his friend Lauren Bacall helped him get his first film role by recommending him to producer Hal B. Wallis, who was looking for new male talent.
He appeared as the Devil in Don Henley's music video Don Henley: The Garden of Allah (1995).
Met Lauren Bacall (at the time known as Betty Jane Perske) at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City, which gave him a special scholarship. She was eight years his junior.
Met future wife Diana Douglas before the Second World War. During the war, Douglas was serving in the United States Navy when he saw the May 3, 1943 issue of Life magazine, which featured a photograph of Dill on the cover. He showed the cover to his shipmates and said that he would marry her.
His Tough Guys (1986) co-star, Dana Carvey, both participated in the Bristol-Myers Campaign, which was to help lower a person's risk of heart disease, where both Douglas and Carvey, as well as many other celebrities who had appeared in advertisements around that same time also volunteered their time to help increase the public's awareness. [November 2001]
He was most widely known to be a social butterfly.
Was a Democrat.
He had appeared in five films that have been selected for the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically or aesthetically" significant: Out of the Past (1947), Ace in the Hole (1951), The Bad and the Beautiful (1952), Paths of Glory (1957) and Spartacus (1960).
For whatever reason, there's a big discrepancy as to whether Kirk's father Herschel Danielovitch was born in 1878 or 1884. Most sources agree that 1878 is the correct year of birth, while Kirk's autobiography says it's "around 1884".
On August 31, 2019, he was honored with a day of his film work during the Turner Classic Movies Summer Under the Stars.
Alumnus of the AADA (American Academy of Dramatic Arts), Class of 1941.
Douglas was one of the actors considered for the role of Don Lino in Shark Tale before Robert De Niro was cast.

Personal Quotes (59)

I've finally gotten away from Burt Lancaster. My luck has changed for the better. I've got nice-looking girls in my films now.
Virtue is not photogenic. What is it to be a nice guy? To be nothing, that's what. A big fat zero with a smile for everybody.
I've made a career of playing sons of bitches.
In order to achieve anything you must be brave enough to fail.
I came from abject poverty. There was nowhere to go but up.
Making movies is a form of narcissism.
People are always talking about the old days. They say that the old movies were better, that the old actors were so great. But I don't think so. All I can say about the old days is that they have passed.
I have always told my sons that they didn't have my advantages of being born into abject poverty.
I think half the success in life comes from first trying to find out what you really want to do. And then going ahead and doing it.
Life is like a B-picture script! It is that corny. If I had my life story offered to me to film, I'd turn it down.
If you want to know about a man you can find out an awful lot by looking at who he married.
My kids never had the advantage I had. I was born poor.
I want my sons to surpass me, because that's a form of immortality.
If the good guy gets the girl, it's rated PG; If the bad guy gets the girl, it's rated R; and if everybody gets the girl, it's rated X.
[December 9, 2006] My name is Kirk Douglas. You may know me. If you don't . . . Google me. I was a movie star and I'm Michael Douglas' dad, Catherine Zeta-Jones' father-in-law and the grandparents of their two children. Today I celebrate my 90th birthday. I have a message to convey to America's young people. A 90th birthday is special. In my case, this birthday is not only special but miraculous. I survived World War II, a helicopter crash, a stroke, and two new knees. It's a tradition that when a "birthday boy" stands over his cake he makes a silent wish for his life and then blows out the candles. I have followed that tradition for 89 years but on my 90th birthday, I have decided to rebel. Instead of making a silent wish for myself, I want to make a loud wish for The World. Let's face it: The World is in a mess and you are inheriting it. Generation Y, you are on the cusp. You are the group facing many problems: abject poverty, global warming, genocide, AIDS and suicide bombers, to name a few. These problems exist and the world is silent. We have done very little to solve these problems. Now we leave it to you. You have to fix it because the situation is intolerable. You need to rebel, to speak up, write, vote, and care about people and the world you live in. We live in the best country in the world. I know. My parents were Russian immigrants. America is a country where EVERYONE, regardless of race, creed or age, has a chance. I had that chance. You are the generation that is most impacted and the generation that can make a difference. I love this country because I came from a life of poverty. I was able to work my way through college and go into acting, the field that I love. There is no guarantee in this country that you will be successful. But you always have a chance. Nothing should interfere with it. You have to make sure that nothing stands in the way. When I blow out my candles--90! . . . it will take a long time . . . but I'll be thinking of you.
I did four movies with [John Wayne]. We were a strange combination. He was a Republican and I was a Democrat. We argued all the time.
[on Michael Moore's interview with Charlton Heston in Bowling for Columbine (2002)] I cannot forgive the way he treated Charlton Heston. Even if I don't agree with much of Heston's politics, Chuck is a gentleman. He agreed to have an interview with Moore, and Moore took advantage of the situation and made Chuck look foolish. He had been invited to Heston's home and he was treated with courtesy. I winced when I saw the expression on Chuck's face change as he realized that he had been duped. And yet he remained a gentleman and dismissed the interloper with grace.
[on John Wayne] John Wayne was a star because he always played John Wayne. Frankly, he wasn't an excellent actor, but good heavens, what a star! It wasn't John Wayne who served the roles; the roles served John Wayne.
[on Linda Darnell] Linda Darnell is the most unspoilt star on the screen--and also the most beautiful.
[on Doris Day] That face she shows the world--smiling, only talking good, happy, tuned into God--as far as I'm concerned, that's just a mask. I haven't a clue as to what's underneath. Doris is just about the remotest person I know.
I've always believed virtue is not photogenic, and I think I've always been attracted to a part, uh, I'd rather play the *evil* character, most of the time, than the nice fella. And I think it really *bothered* my mother, because she would tell people, "You know, my son's not like that, he's really a nice boy!"
It isn't a manly profession. It's a childish profession. You couldn't be a complete, grown-up adult and be an actor . . . I mean, if I were a sophisticated adult, how could I say, "Here I am, fighting evil, represented by Yul Brynner"? You have to have a childish part of you! It's true! You know, I watch as my kids have grown up, I've watched, them, you know. Children are natural actors; they pretend they're cops and robbers, and I think all actors retain a certain amount of that within themselves. They have to, or they can't function as actors. And that's why they become self-deprecating. They think, well, it's not
[Senator Joseph McCarthy] was an awful man who was finding Communists all over the country. He blacklisted the writers who wouldn't obey his edict. The heads of the studios were hypocrites who went along with it. My company produced Spartacus (1960), written by Dalton Trumbo, a blacklisted writer, under the name Sam Jackson. Too many people were using false names back then. I was embarrassed. I was young enough to be impulsive, so even though I was warned against it, I used his real name on the screen.
[on the death of Tony Curtis]: Tony Curtis was one of the best-looking guys in Hollywood. He was often described as beautiful, but he was also a fine actor. I worked with Tony in The Vikings (1958) and in Spartacus (1960), and we were friends for a long time. What I will miss most about him is his sense of humor. It was always fun to be with him.
You have to leave your country to get a perspective, to see what makes America great. Now I can say that nowhere in the world is there a match for what we have in Hollywood.
When you become a star, you don't change. Everyone else does.
[on Paths of Glory (1957)] A truly great film with a truly great theme: the insanity and brutality of war. As I predicted, it made no money.
[asked to name his favorite director] I would NEVER do that. I've enjoyed working with [Billy Wilder[, [William Wyler], Joseph L. Mankiewicz], [Howard Hawks], [Elia Kazan]. I did three films with [Vncente Minnelli] and got nominated for two of them--but I could never name just one director.
[2011, on Anne Hathaway] She's gorgeous! Wow! Where were you when I was making pictures?
[interview in "Ability" Magazine] You see, when a person becomes disabled, often their family starts thinking, "Oh dear, don't move, let me get that for you". Once I told my wife that I thought I wanted breakfast in bed the next morning, she said the old joke, "If you want breakfast in bed, sleep in the kitchen."
I can't tell you how many times someone has said, "I've heard you're such an S.O.B." I'll say, "Who said that?" - 90% of the time it's someone with whom I've never worked.
[In his autobiography] I think that . . . I am unfairly given credit for [son Michael Douglas (I)]' talents, as if he had only my genes. Diana [Michel's mother, Diana Douglas (I)] is a talented actress, and Michael has inherited from both of us. My wife and I see Diana and her husband, Bill Darrid, often . . . and have a pleasant relationship with them.
Why is it that often the people you do the most for resent you the most? Maybe you remind them of their weaknesses. The hell with them!
I'm too old to change. Like Popeye, "I yam what I yam." Love me or hate me, just don't be indifferent.
I've never tried to win popularity contests. I've always been blunt - never hesitated about expressing myself.
Let's face it--the world is a mess and the young people will inherit this mess. We should do all we can to help deal with it. That's why I wrote the book "Let's Face It" and dedicated to the young people. I try, with humor, to help them navigate through what lies ahead. But the reality is, he problems they face are not very funny.
We are the strongest country in the world. We are the richest. We must take self-inventory. We must look less into the stars and planets in the heavens and more into ourselves. What can we do to make our country better? To earn back the respect we used to have?
[1957, to interviewer Mike Wallace (I) regarding Wallace's statement, " . . . but you're reading somebody else's words. Somebody else is telling you what to do, where to go, how to stand, what to say"] Well, then, you don't understand what acting really is. And, of course, that would be quite a long conversation to go into. I mean, acting is an interpretive art. I mean, you may hear [Jascha Heifetz] play the violin. He didn't write the piece, but oh, how he plays it. That's what's wonderful. That's what an actor tries to do. He may not have written the piece, but what he wants to do is interpret it.
[in 2013] I often played the good cowboy on screen, riding in to save the day. Now everybody thinks he is a cowboy, too. That frightens me. We have become a cowboy country with too many guns. I cannot understand the people who are against some form of gun control. They should be the first to welcome a message on making it more difficult to get a gun. Many of them seem to propose more guns being available to everybody. Why? Are they interested in making more money for the gun manufacturers? Are they politicians who just want to oppose the president in anything he endorses? It's incomprehensible to me.
I never, ever thought I would live to be 100. That's shocked me, really. And it's sad, too. I miss Burt Lancaster - we fought a lot, and I miss him a lot. And John Wayne, even though he was a Republican and I was a Democrat.
I was not a tough guy. I just acted like one.
[son Michael Douglas (I)] didn't like me much after his mother and I got divorced. It was only when he started acting that we became close.
I don't know who any of the new stars are, and they probably don't know me.
I had been a ragamuffin kid of 15 coping with a neighborhood filled with gangs. Under my teacher's guidance, I became a different person. I'm eternally grateful. By today's standards, she would have gone to jail. I had no idea we were doing something wrong. Did she?
[statement for the release of Trumbo (2015)] As actors it is easy for us to play the hero. We get to fight the bad guys and stand up for justice. In real life, the choices are not always so clear. The Hollywood Blacklist, recreated powerfully on screen in Trumbo (2015), was a time I remember well. The choices were hard. The consequences were painful and very real. During the blacklist I had friends who went into exile when no one would hire them; actors who committed suicide in despair. My young co-star in Detective Story (1951), Lee Grant, was unable to work for 12 years after she refused to testify against her husband before the House Un-American Activities Committee. I was threatened that using a blacklisted writer for Spartacus (1960) - my friend Dalton Trumbo - would mark me as a "Commie-lover" and end my career. There are times when one has to stand up for principle. I am so proud of my fellow actors who use their public influence to speak out against injustice. At 98 years old, I have learned one lesson from history: It very often repeats itself. I hope that "Trumbo", a fine film, will remind all of us that the blacklist was a terrible time in our country, but that we must learn from it so that it will never happen again.
[in 2016] I've lived through the horrors of a Great Depression and two World Wars, the second of which was started by a man who promised that he would restore his country it to its former greatness. I was 16 when that man came to power in 1933. For almost a decade before his rise he was laughed at--not taken seriously. He was seen as a buffoon who couldn't possibly deceive an educated, civilized population with his nationalistic, hateful rhetoric. The "experts" dismissed him as a joke. They were wrong.
They say there is nothing new under the sun. Since I was born, our planet has traveled around it 100 times. With each orbit, I've watched our country and our world evolve in ways that would have been unimaginable to my parents - and continue to amaze me with each passing year. [2016]
I wanted to be an actor ever since I was a kid in the second grade. I did a play, and my mother made a black apron, and I played a shoemaker. After the performance, [my father] gave me my first Oscar: an ice cream cone.
America has never formally acknowledged and apologized for the unspeakable evil of slavery. So I am asking Republicans and Democrats alike to apologize to the American people. Our continued refusal to apologize for slavery still shames and divides our nation. It is past the time to heal. (13 July 2015)
I wanted to be an actor since I stepped in front of an audience to recite The Red Robin of Spring when I was in kindergarten. Something happened when I heard applause. I loved it. I still do.

In high school and St. Lawrence University, I won drama awards which further fueled my theatrical ambitions. Getting a scholarship to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Manhattan was a dream come true. (5 November 2015)
[on the career of his son Michael Douglas] Michael has gone on to a tremendously successful career. And he didn't need any help from me. On my birthday, he gave me a beautiful new car. I sat in the driver's seat and I saw a note on the wheel. I recognized Michael's handwriting: "Dad, you always say I never asked you for anything but you gave me a lot. Love, Michael." (16 August 2013)
The eye of the movie camera is an evil eye. When you act in front of it, that cyclops keeps taking from you until you feel empty. On the stage, you give something to the audience, more comes back. When the curtain comes down in a theatre, you have a feeling of exhilaration -- something's been completed, fulfilled. It's so different from an exhausting day of shooting at the studio. You come home tired, drained. Making a movie is like making a mosaic -- laboriously putting little pieces together, jumping from one part of the picture to another, never seeing the whole, whereas in a play, the momentum of the continuity works with you, takes you along. Doing a play is like dancing to music. Making a movie is like dancing in wet cement. (5 November 2015)
I was excited about my first acting venture. My agent sent me to the apartment of Mae West. Most young people today don't remember her. She was a diva who traveled all over the world in a stage show with six adoring males. At the appointed time, 7:00 in the evening, I went to her apartment and was ushered into the living room. I found about ten good-looking guys also waiting for the audition. Mae West sashayed down the staircase. She was, surprisingly, a small woman walking on dangerously high heels. She looked around at the applicants. I was the first one to be rejected. (16 August 2013)
[on Lonely Are the Brave (1962)] This is my favorite movie. I love the theme that if you try to be an individual, society will crush you. I play a modern-day cowboy still living by the code of the Old West. Dalton Trumbo wrote a perfect screenplay -- one draft, no revisions. My character gets into a bar fight with a vicious one-armed man. He was actually Burt Lancaster's stand-in, who had lost his arm in the war. It was a tough shoot in and around Albuquerque -- high altitude, snow, fog and freezing rain in May! I didn't get along with the director very well; plus, he had no regard for safety. When we were shooting on a narrow ledge with a steep drop, he asked me to walk around my horse on the outside. I wanted to be on the inside against the wall, because the horse instinctively would protect itself. Even after I explained, he argued with me, but I had seen too many unnecessary accidents to agree. The best relationship I had on this film was with my horse, Whisky. Of course, the horse couldn't talk back. (9 February 2014)
I only wanted to be an actor. I never thought of being a producer, but I was frustrated because there were certain movies that I wanted to make. So, I formed my company, Bryna, which is named after my mother. I thought it was funny because my mother and father were illiterate peasants from Russia and she had a big production company named after her. One day, we were riding in a limousine in Times Square. There was a big sign and I said, "See ma, Bryna presents Spartacus." She said, "America is such a wonderful land".
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975), a movie I neither produced nor starred in despite all my best efforts. My son Michael [Michael Douglas] asked if he could take a crack at producing it, so I gave him the rights, not at all sure whether he would have any more luck than I did. Well, it opened to raves, and on Academy Awards night, the film won all five major Oscars. I couldn't have been prouder of Michael, even though he wouldn't let me play McMurphy. "You're too old," he said. And this was in 1975, some 40 years ago! I forgave him. Jack Nicholson was superb. (9 February 2014)
[on Act of Love (1953)] I don't know if this is a good film, but to me it's a great film because that's where I met my wife, Anne Buydens, to whom I have been married for 60 years. I write about our strange romance in Life Could Be Verse. Anne [Anne Douglas] was hired to do publicity for Act of Love (1953), and we became friends. I, of course, wanted more (she was beautiful and had a fantastic sense of humor), but she didn't want to be a movie star's latest fling. (9 February 2014)
Among my fondest memories of Nancy [Nancy Reagan] are the many wonderful occasions when I got to dance with her. She moved expertly. With her as my partner, I almost felt like Fred Astaire. (11 March 2016)
Which is an important lesson for me, even at the age of 97. Keep in touch with those you care about, no matter how much distance and time separates you. Share a laugh. Share a heartbreak. Share life while you can. (24 July 2014)

Salary (8)

Out of the Past (1947) $25,000
Champion (1949) $15,000 + % of gross
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954) $175,000
Paths of Glory (1957) $350,000
Last Train from Gun Hill (1959) $325,000 against ten percent of the gross
Town Without Pity (1961) $1,000,000
In Harm's Way (1965) $400,000
The War Wagon (1967) $300,000 + %10 of the gross.

See also

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