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Kirk Douglas: From poverty to movie star

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — Actor Kirk Douglas, the icon of the Golden Age of Hollywood and the real embodiment of the American hero, passed away on Wednesday at the age of 103 years. “With great sorrow, the brothers and I inform you that Kirk Douglas left us at the age of 103 years. For the world, he was a legend, an actor of the golden age of cinema (…), but for me and his brothers Joel and Peter, he was just a dad, his son Michael Douglas writes on his Facebook page. “Kirk had a wonderful life, and he left behind films for future generations, as well as memories of a recognized philanthropist who worked for the common good and world peace.”

Muscular Kirk Douglas, with his piercing gaze, was born with Hollywood, grew up with a black and white movie, fought in color. He was the last hero of the Hollywood golden age.

Nevertheless, at first, nothing foreshadowed that he would become a legend of the seventh art. “I am going forward because I know where I came from,” said the son of Russian immigrants who fled from the pogroms from Russia. Iser Danilovich Demsky was born on December 9, 1916 in Amsterdam, New York. Together with six sisters, he had to face injustice and want early. Trials left a mark on his face, as if carved by a chisel. The outlet for the son of illiterate parents was a struggle.

Hollywood dream

It was the strength of the hands that allowed the “son of the junkman” to receive a scholarship at St. Lawrence University, where he became the champion in this sport. Then Kirk entered the prestigious American Academy of Dramatic Arts.

In the early 1940s, the course of events in his life accelerated. Having received a diploma in 1941, he got a crowd on Broadway, and a year later went to the Navy. In 1943, he had a wedding with his first wife, actress and fashion model Diana Dill. They had sons Joel and Michael. After the demobilization, Kirk returned to Broadway, where he played two roles with Richard Widmark.

Hollywood doors swung open in front of him thanks to actress Laurent Bacall, with whom they were friends at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. She spoke on his account with influential producer Hal Wallis, who took him to the movie “Martha Ivers Strange Love” (1946). All his first roles had common features: unpleasant and life-beaten personalities. This trend was destroyed by the “Champion” (1949), where he played the role of a boxer. After this picture, Mark Robson was first nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor. He literally won fame with his fists.

The embodiment of the American hero

Favorable appearance, as well as the roles of Western characters and brave military, made Kirk Douglas the legendary hero of American cinema. He comes to mind the image of a mustachioed cowboy with a blade in his hands in “Skirmish at Corral O-Kay” (1957) or the role of the scarred muscular warrior in “Vikings” (1958) by Richard Fleischer. Finally, he became a symbol of the Hollywood hero with the release of Spartak (1960) Stanley Kubrick.

Be that as it may, besides the conspicuous force in the role, his inner sensitivity penetrated. I recall a scene from “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” (1954), when his character, harpoon player and musician Ned Land sings to inspire the crew. Or Van Gogh’s tenderness in Lust for Life (1956) by Vincente Minnelli.

As for the awards, he was nominated in 1956 for an Oscar for the best male role in Lust for Life, but he received the treasured statuette only in 1996 as recognition of his achievements over a half-century career.

In addition, Kirk was a seasoned character. According to him, from the very beginning he had a “reputation for a difficult actor”, and he tried to find suitable roles for himself. In 1955, he became a producer in The Indian Warrior, Andre De Taut, and his company Bryna participated in the production of The Path of Glory (1957) by Kubrick and the Vikings.

He was also a famous seducer. On his account there were many adventures with famous Hollywood actresses: Marlene Dietrich, Gene Tierney and Lana Turner. After a divorce from Diane Webster in 1951, he married three years later with Anne Buydens, who became the love of his life. They had two sons with her: producer Peter Vincent Douglas (Peter Vincent Douglas) and actor Eric Douglas (Eric Douglas), who died in 2004 from an overdose.

Immortal Kirk

Kirk Douglas’s life was a true American script. A century full of events that nearly cost him his life. Without a doubt, the helicopter crash in 1991 left the deepest mark: two dead and two wounded, including Kirk. The 75-year-old actor then miraculously survived, escaping with burns and a broken back.

After the memoirs published in 1988, he wrote The Dance with the Devil (1991) and The Last Tango in Brooklyn (1994). “Starting a novel, I feel the same lift as when I was just starting an actor’s career,” he said.

After a heart attack in 1996 (he was then 80 years old), he had speech impairments and some of his facial nerves were damaged. Nevertheless, he again showed character and two weeks later took part in the Oscars, where he was awarded an honorary award. The only one in my entire career. Kirk Douglas continued to play small roles in films until 2008, although he admitted that he was thinking about suicide after a heart attack. “Humor saved me,” he admitted in 2014. – At first I thought that my life was over. But when I put a gun in my mouth, it hit my tooth. And I got a strange pain. A sick tooth prevented me from killing myself?”

Although his latest films did not achieve much success, Kirk Douglas managed to fulfill his cherished dream: to play with his son Michael and granddaughter Cameron in “Family Values” (2003). Celebrating the century in 2016, the actor now joined the immortal legends of the seventh art.

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