Birthdays and other celebrity stuff tends not to be our ‘thing’ on HCF, but I think that news of a movie star who has just turned 100 years of age is worth reporting. Following close behind Olivia de Havilland earlier this year on June 1, Kirk Douglas has just reached that milestone. Kirk was one of the first film actors who I begun to recognise and like when watching films like The Vikings and 20 000 Leagues Under The Sea as a young kid, playing tough guys whom I just wanted to be!
He was actually born Issur Danielovitch in 1916 in Amsterdam, New York, to Jewish immigrant parents Herschel and Bryna, who had left Chavusy in the Mogilev Region of the Russian Empire, which is modern-day Belarus. His first movie role was in The Strange Love of Martha Ivers [unusually, playing a cowardly weakling], and he went on to star in a whole range of memorable movies, perhaps most notably Paths Of Glory, Spartacus – for which he played a major part in breaking the Hollywood Blacklist by giving supposedly Communist writer Dalton Trumbo the job of scripting the movie, Ace in the Hole and Lust for Life, where he played Vincent Van Gogh in probably his greatest performance and one for which he deserved the Best Actor Oscar, though he never won despite being nominated three times. Later on his career he went through a mini-phase of appearing in more ‘culty’ efforts like The Fury and The Final Countdown.
Despite suffering many setbacks in more recent years, notably being in a helicopter crash which compressed his spine and left him three inches shorter, and suffering a stroke which left him speechless [though he managed to get his speech back] and suicidal, he’s had a second career as a writer, having published ten books dealing with his life and spiritual matters, and is the oldest celebrity blogger, on The Huffington Post, his last article in September being about Donald Trump.
Happy 100th Birthday Kirk.