What a long and fruitful life Kirk Douglas enjoyed.
Along with Olivia de Haviland (still alive at 103) he remained one of the last great stars from Hollywood's enduring Golden Age.
He emerged in the 1950s as one of a new breed of post war "rebels" -- male stars who were grittier, more unpredictable, more defiant, harder to manage and more combustible.
Nominated three times for best actor by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences — for Champion (1949), The Bad and the Beautiful (1952) and Lust for Life (1956) — Douglas was the recipient of an honorary Oscar in 1996. Arguably the top male star of the post-World War II era, he acted in more than 80 movies before retiring from films in 2004.
Along with his good friend Burt Lancaster, Douglas (a ragpicker's son whose real name was Issur Danielovitc ) sent female hearts aflutter. He was easily recognizable for his steely blue eyes, broad shoulders, chiseled jaw, dimpled chin and distinctive voice and cadence. Never a "pretty boy" star, Douglas often projected a kind of brute force in his films. He was an artist who was deeply committed to his craft, and in pursuit of the perfect tale, the special camera angle, just the right inflection, or even the best way to market a film, he was often relentless and could be difficult.
Kirk Douglas was so multi-talented that the sheer range of his abilities could be breathtaking. Beyond acting, he was also a writer, a producer and a director. And he was one of the first to assume these many roles, breaking away from Hollywood's studio system, defying tinseltown's moguls and charting his own path. Beyond all that, he was a political activist who stood up to the Hollywood blacklist of the 1950s and marched for civil rights in the1960s. And he did it all as a proud and devoted citizen and a World War II veteran.
Once upon the time, Hollywood produced incandescent stars -- personalities who towered above us like titans.
Kirk Douglas was one of them.
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