In­side Kirk Douglas' in­ti­mate 100th birth­day cel­e­bra­tion

Kuwait Times - - LIFESTYLE -

Kirk Douglas knows how to make an en­trance. With box­ing gloves in ev­ery cen­ter­piece and the theme from "Rocky" blar­ing over the speak­ers, Douglas, one of the golden age of Hol­ly­wood's last liv­ing leg­ends, walked con­fi­dently into the Sun­set Room at the Bev­erly Hills Ho­tel Fri­day after­noon to cel­e­brate his 100th birth­day at an in­ti­mate gath­er­ing of friends and fam­ily.

Flanked by Anne Douglas, his wife of over 62 years, his son Michael Douglas, his daugh­ter-in-law Catherine Zeta-Jones and his grand­chil­dren, Kirk Douglas looked out over the crowd of about 150 peo­ple, in­clud­ing Don Rick­les, Jef­frey Katzen­berg, his Rabbi and many of his clos­est friends and smiled. Not only was he sur­rounded by friendly faces, he knew, as promised by his doc­tor years ago, that if he lived to 100, he would get to have a glass of vodka.

But be­fore the vodka was pre­sented in a com­i­cally large mar­tini glass, Kirk Douglas got to sit and lis­ten to words from his loved ones as images from his many clas­sic film cred­its such as "Spar­ta­cus," "Lust for Life," "Paths of Glory" and others played on a screen be­hind him.

Michael Douglas kicked off the pro­ceed­ings, say­ing that it's not just about age, but about the life he's lived and what he's ac­com­plished. "One of the things that I find most in­cred­i­ble about dad is the third act of his life," said Michael Douglas. "Af­ter all he ac­com­plished in his pro­fes­sional ca­reer and what he's given for his coun­try, at the point in his life where he's faced ad­ver­sity, los­ing a son, hav­ing a he­li­copter crash, hav­ing a stroke, and what he's ac­com­plished in this third act in his life, I find quite ex­tra­or­di­nary."

Kirk Douglas kept his remarks brief

"I won­der who he was talk­ing about? He said some nice things about some­one I don't know," Kirk Douglas said, jok­ing that Michael Douglas was cho­sen to or­ga­nize the pro­ceed­ings be­cause "he has the most money."

Kirk Douglas also thanked ev­ery­one for com­ing and mar­veled at see­ing most of his fam­ily in the crowd. Zeta-Jones then lit the 12 can­dles on the cake. "I'm so glad there's not 100!" she ex­claimed, be­fore lead­ing the room to sing "Happy Birth­day" with a string quar­tet ac­com­pa­ni­ment.

It was only the start of the after­noon, which in­cluded remarks from a few of his seven grand­chil­dren, his Rabbi and his doc­tor. Charley King's Blue­bell Events over­saw the after­noon tea where each ta­ble was des­ig­nated not by num­bers but by Kirk Douglas's films. The birth­day boy was seated at the "Lonely Are the Brave" ta­ble, which is his fa­vorite film.

Don Rick­les light­ened the rev­er­ent and re­spect­ful mood, quip­ping to the crowd from his seat that he wanted to go home. He poked fun at Kirk Douglas's good looks and physique say­ing that he had to hear the "I'm Spar­ta­cus crap" ev­ery day, and how Burt Lan­caster used to ad­vise him that Kirk Douglas "doesn't know what he's talk­ing about."

Rick­les did get a bit choked up by the end. "You are an out­stand­ing man be­cause you've been blessed with warmth and love and class, and ... ah, for­get it, you're all of that and more," He said. "May god give you strength and may you be with us for 100 more. If that's his wish, so be it, if not, I know in heaven you'll be in charge." Off to the side, ac­tress and dancer Neile Adams, who was Steve McQueen's first wife, re­called Douglas's mis­chievous side. "Kirk was ter­ri­ble when he was a young man! You could not sit be­side him without his hand crawl­ing up your leg. When Steve would leave the room sud­denly he'd be on me," she said with a hearty laugh. "But he was cute."

She re­called his re­silience, when a few years ago he had both of his knees re­placed. Michael Douglas, she said, tried to en­cour­age him to just do one and get a chair. Kirk Douglas, how­ever, had a dif­fer­ent idea and it didn't in­volve a wheel­chair. "You'll never see Spar­ta­cus in a (ex­ple­tive) chair!" Adams re­mem­bered him say­ing.

Later in the after­noon, Katzen­berg re­flected on the gen­eros­ity of the Douglas's, who are fa­mous for their char­i­ta­ble giv­ing. "You have re­mained and will al­ways re­main my hero," Katzen­berg said. "I will re­mind you of your words that you gave to me and I try to give to other peo­ple all the time which is 'you haven't learned how to live un­til you learn how to give.'"

Steven Spiel­berg, who ar­rived late, and on crutches hav­ing re­cently bro­ken his foot on set came with a very spe­cific mes­sage. "I wanted to come here and say I've been shoot­ing movies and tele­vi­sion shows for now 47 years and I've worked with the best of them and you're the only movie star I ever met," Spiel­berg said. "There is some­thing that you have that no one else ever had ... When you watch Kirk's per­for­mance in any­thing, in any­thing he's ever done, you can­not take your eyes off of him. It's not pos­si­ble to look away from him."

He called it an op­ti­mistic fe­roc­ity and it's some­thing he chal­lenges all his ac­tors to achieve in his films. "You're a mir­a­cle man," he said. And, even af­ter 100 years to show for it, he's still fight­ing. — AP

— AP

Ac­tor Kirk Douglas, left, looks on as his daugh­ter-in-law Catherine Zeta-Jones lights the can­dles on his birth­day cake dur­ing his 100th birth­day party at the Bev­erly Hills Ho­tel on Fri­day, Dec 9. 2016, in Bev­erly Hills.

Ac­tor Kirk Douglas ar­rives at his 100th birth­day party as his daugh­ter-in-law Catherine Zeta-Jones, sec­ond from right, and her daugh­ter Carys ap­plaud at the Bev­erly Hills Ho­tel on Fri­day.

Ac­tor Kirk Douglas, cen­ter, ap­plauds along with the crowd dur­ing his 100th birth­day party at the Bev­erly Hills Ho­tel on Fri­day, Dec. 9. 2016, in Bev­erly Hills, Calif. At right is Douglas' son Michael.

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