Kirk Douglas, the great actor from Hollywood’s Golden Age, died Feb. 5 in his Beverly Hills home. His son, Michael Douglas, announced the news about his father on his Facebook and Instagram pages.
“To the world he was a legend, an actor from the golden age of movies who lived well into his golden years, a humanitarian whose commitment to justice and the causes he believed in set a standard for all of us to aspire to,” wrote Michael of the man who was as skilled playing Spartacus as he was playing Vincent Van Gogh or a gun slinger. “But to me and my brothers Joel and Peter he was simply Dad, to Catherine, a wonderful father-in-law, to his grandchildren and great grandchild their loving grandfather, and to his wife Anne, a wonderful husband.”
Born 103 years ago in 1916, to “illiterate” (as he described them) Russian immigrant parents, Issur Danielovitch was one of seven children. By the time he went to grade school he was called Isadore (or Izzy) Demsky. Then after graduating from St. Lawrence University he changed his name to Kirk Douglas.
The eclectic actor, producer and director would go on to make more than 80 movies during his career that spanned seven decades. Douglas was awarded the Medal of Freedom, the country’s most esteemed civilian honor by then President Jimmy Carter in 1981. He was also given the French Legion of Honor and the National Medal of the Arts.
In addition to all that, Douglas was a prolific author who wrote novels and memoirs. He was a devoted philanthropist who worked to have 400 playgrounds built in Los Angeles. He also helped establish a drug treatment center, a safe haven for homeless women and programs to help young people complete their schooling. And throughout his 103 years he continued to maintain a lust for life and learning. “I don’t think about death,” he said. “I think about life.“
Upon learning of Douglas’s passing, celebrities took to social media to remember the acting legend. Here are some of the their most moving tributes.
“I love you Spartacus, like the father I never had.” Antoninus
I did have a father and he LOVED you as the world loved you. Your Passion.Talent. Politics. Family. Art. Strength. I grew up with the Douglas boys. My love to Anne and all his family from mine. pic.twitter.com/nPlZIFQ7DW
— Jamie Lee Curtis (@jamieleecurtis) February 6, 2020
— Ed Asner (@TheOnlyEdAsner) February 5, 2020
KIrk Douglas will always be an icon in the pantheon of Hollywood. He put himself on the line to break the blacklist. My love goes out to my friend Michael and the whole family.
— Rob Reiner (@robreiner) February 5, 2020
Hollywood doesn’t make legends like Kirk Douglas anymore. Born into a Jewish immigrant family, his star rose In the golden age of film, when marquee lights were bright and movie houses palaces. My thoughts are with his family. May his memory be a blessing to them, and all of us.
— Dan Rather (@DanRather) February 6, 2020
Kirk Douglas was one of the biggest stars of all time & a brilliant actor with an unforgettable, blazing charisma. He will also be remembered for putting his career on the line by defying the Hollywood Blacklist, hiring writer Dalton Trumbo for the classic Spartacus. #RIP pic.twitter.com/snzoHPMtDr
— Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself) February 6, 2020
“I don’t think about death, I think about life.”
Kirk Douglas (1916 – 2020).
And what a life it was. Full of achievements worthy of a thousand lifetimes and a legacy that will live forever.
What an absolute legend. R.I.P, sir… pic.twitter.com/EI8NjLSuDl
— Angela Lansbury News (@_AngelaLansbury) February 6, 2020
Kirk Douglas. The inspirational Scalawag. 103 years on this earth. That’s got a nice ring to it! Great hanging with you man.
— Danny DeVito (@DannyDeVito) February 6, 2020
Bravo Kirk Douglas on an incredible life. Thank you for so generously sharing your amazing talent with all of us. The film we made together will always hold a special place in my heart. My love to Anne & your beautiful family. #KirkDouglas
— Mitzi Gaynor (@TheMitziGaynor) February 5, 2020
Legendary actor Kirk Douglas has passed on today at the age of 103. An Academy Award winning actor and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Douglas was a champion for many just causes and lived a long and storied life. He was adored and beloved, and he shall be missed.
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) February 5, 2020
Condolences to the family of Kirk Douglas. What an incredible icon he was in this industry!
— William Shatner (@WilliamShatner) February 5, 2020
RIP #kirkdouglas I remember him walking into a lift in NYC, I was 21. After a few moments he looked up at me and said “how’s school son?” I said “good sir”. (I couldn’t tell him I never finished school.) What a moment, what a total legend he was.
— Bryan Adams (@bryanadams) February 6, 2020