Kirk Dou­glas at 100, still in love with soul mate Anne

Kuwait Times - - LIFESTYLE -

Kirk Dou­glas, whose il­lus­tri­ous ca­reer has taken in some of cinema' s land­mark roles, turns 100 to­mor­row at­tribut­ing his re­mark­able longevity to his" won­der­ful mar­riage" of more than six decades. The iconic ac­tor re­vealed in a spe­cial es­say to mark the mile­stone that his sec­ond wife Anne, 97, had been his in­spi­ra­tion in re­bound­ing from ad­ver­sity over the years. "I was lucky enough to find my soul mate 63 years ago, and I be­lieve our won­der­ful mar­riage and our nightly 'golden hour' chats have helped me sur­vive all things," he writes in celebrity mag­a­zine Closer Weekly. The three-time Os­car nom­i­nee will cel­e­brate with 200 friends and fam­ily at a party in Cal­i­for­nia hosted by his son Michael and daugh­ter-in­law Cather­ine Zeta Jones.

The star, who was forced to re­tire be­cause of speech prob­lems af­ter a stroke, has prac­ticed de­liv­er­ing a few words on the day with the help of a speech ther­a­pist. "I am al­ways asked for ad­vice on liv­ing a long and healthy life. I don't have any. I do be­lieve, how­ever, that we have a pur­pose for be­ing here," he says. "I was spared af­ter a he­li­copter crash and a stroke to do more good in the world be­fore I leave it." Dou­glas, the son of il­lit­er­ate Rus­sian im­mi­grants, ap­peared in some of cinema's most iconic roles, from slave Spar­ta­cus and painter Vin­cent van Gogh to Western leg­end Doc Hol­l­i­day. He was in more than 80 movies but, un­like stars of younger gen­er­a­tions, never took a role in a se­quel.

'Vol­cano'

Born Is­sur Danielovitch in poverty in New York to a Jewish fa­ther and Protes­tant mother, Dou­glas went to the city's Academy of Dra­matic Arts. "Cham­pion" (1949) earned him the first of three Os­car nom­i­na­tions for best ac­tor, an award that has eluded him but was fi­nally snared by his son Michael for "Wall Street" (1987). Among his most fa­mous films were 1956 Van Gogh biopic "Lust for Life," "Gun­fight at the OK Cor­ral" (1957), "Spar­ta­cus" (1960) and "Seven Days in May" (1964). Dou­glas's first mar­riage to Amer­i­can ac­tress Diana Web­ster pro­duced sons Michael and Joel be­fore it ended in divorce in 1951. Three years later he mar­ried Bel­gian-Amer­i­can Anne Buy­dens, who once wrote of Dou­glas: "Liv­ing with my hus­band is like sit­ting in a beau­ti­ful gar­den right next to a vol­cano that may erupt at any mo­ment."

The cou­ple would go on to have two sons, Eric and Peter. "One hun­dred years old is cer­tainly a mile­stone, but the facts are what dad has ac­com­plished in 100 years," Michael Dou­glas writes in the Closer Weekly ar­ti­cle. "I think his stamina and tenac­ity are the qual­i­ties that stand out for me," he con­tin­ues. "He has taught me al­ways to give it your best shot at what­ever you take on. He's the full pack­age."

Jewish faith

The Dou­glas fam­ily has been touched by its fair share of tragedy and disas­ter over the years. Eric, also an ac­tor, died from a lethal com­bi­na­tion of al­co­hol and pre­scrip­tion drugs at the age of just 46 in 2004, af­ter years bat­tling ad­dic­tion. Kirk had al­ready been deeply shaken by a mid-air col­li­sion be­tween his he­li­copter and an air­plane over Cal­i­for­nia in 1991 that killed two peo­ple, prompt­ing him to re­dis­cover his Jewish faith. His 1996 stroke robbed him of the abil­ity to speak en­tirely, al­though he man­aged to make a par­tial re­cov­ery af­ter months of ther­apy. As his health lim­ited his film roles, Dou­glas and his wife turned in­creas­ingly to philanthropy, and have ex­pressed their in­ten­tion to give most of their for­tune to char­ity on their deaths.

The cou­ple have re­built 400 school play­grounds in Los Angeles and were be­hind the es­tab­lish­ment of "Harry's Haven," an Alzheimer's unit named af­ter Kirk's fa­ther at the Mo­tion Pic­ture and Tele­vi­sion Fund Home in Wood­land Hills, Cal­i­for­nia. Dou­ble Golden Globe win­ner and life­long friend Angie Dick­in­son shared a bed­room scene with the leg­end in "Cast a Gi­ant Shadow" (1966), which re­quired the pair to be naked. "You couldn't ask for more than you get with Kirk," the 85-year-old ac­tress, an ex-wife of le­gendary com­poser Burt Bacharach, told AFP. "He's just a per­fect man, I must say. Ev­ery­thing he does is per­fect." — AFP

— AFP pho­tos

This file photo taken on Oc­to­ber 22, 2009 shows ac­tress Anne Dou­glas (left) and ac­tor Kirk Dou­glas as they ar­rive at the 4th An­nual Kirk Dou­glas Award for Ex­cel­lence in Film for the Santa Bar­bara In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val at the Bilt­more Four Sea­sons Ho­tel in Santa Bar­bara, Cal­i­for­nia.

This file photo shows Anne Dou­glas and ac­tor Kirk Dou­glas as they ar­rive to The Heart Foun­da­tion Gala at Hol­ly­wood Pal­la­dium in Hol­ly­wood, Cal­i­for­nia.

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