Kirk Douglas, the immortal Spartacus of Hollywood, dies

Just four days after celebrating its great party with the Oscars, the cinema had to face a very sad goodbye this Wednesday with the death of 103-year-old Kirk Douglas, one of the most respected and long-lived legends of the big screen and an iconic survivor of the golden age of Hollywood.

Undeniable jewels like “Paths of Glory” (1957) and “Spartacus” (1960) are just some of the bright spots of an actor who stood out not only for his exceptional artistic career but also for his moral commitment when, for example, he rebelled. against the anti-communist lists in Hollywood.

“With tremendous sadness, my brothers and I announce that Kirk Douglas left us today at the age of 103,” said Michael Douglas, one of his sons and also a leading figure in Hollywood, on Wednesday.

“To the world, he was a legend, an actor from the golden age of cinema (…), a charitable being whose commitment to justice and the causes in which he believed set a standard to which everyone aspired. But for me and my brothers was just dad, “he added.

“Kirk had a good life and leaves a legacy in the cinema that will last for generations (…). Let me finish with the words that I said to him on his last birthday and that will always remain true: ‘Dad, I love you very much and I am very proud to be your son ‘”, he closed.

Immortalized for his impressive bearing as the rebellious Spartacus, the extensive and fabulous filmography of Douglas, who died at his home in Beverly Hills (USA), includes other very prominent films such as “Ace in the Hole” (1951), “The Bad and the Beautiful” (1952), “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” (1954), “Lust for Life” (1956), “Gunfight at the OK Corral” (1957) and “The Vikings” (1958).

From Stanley Kubrick to Vincent Minnelli to Billy Wilder, Douglas worked for some of the most admired directors in cinema but, curiously, was never able to win an Oscar.

The actor was a candidate three times and failed to win the statuette on any occasion, although in 1996 the Hollywood Academy paid him a more than deserved tribute by awarding him an honorary Oscar.

One of the last times Douglas paid tribute to a Hollywood who adored him unconditionally was at the 2018 Golden Globes.

In a wheelchair, very smiling and accompanied by his daughter-in-law Catherine Zeta-Jones, Douglas presented an award at that ceremony and received the excited applause of some colleagues who loved him as one can only love a true patriarch of cinema.

The same clamor could be felt this Wednesday, albeit virtually, on Twitter, where the death of Kirk Douglas quickly became a global trend with countless users recalling his most famous phrases or posting photos, one after another, of the fierce Spartacus.

Despite his very advanced age, Douglas did not want to miss in November 2018 the ceremony in which his son Michael Douglas unveiled his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles (USA).

“It means a lot to me, Dad, that you are here today. Thank you for your advice and inspiration,” Michael Douglas said then.

One of the keys to Kirk Douglas’ legacy, and one that many highlighted today in their profiles and farewells about the actor, was the mark he left beyond the filming sets.

Witness and star of the time when the all-powerful studios controlled (with countless abuses) the film industry, Douglas, who already died with the cinema in doubtful reconversion and with the rise of “streaming”, was a moral refuge for Hollywood before the shamelessness of the anti-communist lists.

Producer and protagonist of “Spartacus”, Douglas demanded that the name of Dalton Trumbo, writer of that epic film but who was included in the black lists of Hollywood, appear in the credits of the film.

Douglas, who was the last survivor of classic Hollywood along with another combative legend like Olivia de Havilland (103 years old), received in 1981 the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civil honor granted in the United States.

“Farewell to a Hollywood legend,” the Hollywood Academy posted on Twitter, which will surely prepare something special about Douglas at the Oscars on Sunday and this afternoon recalled a phrase from an already eternal star.

“I wanted to be an actor since I was a second grade child. I did a play, my mother made a black apron, and I played a shoemaker. After the performance, my father gave me my first Oscar: a cone ice cream”, he claimed.

David Villafranca

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Kirk Douglas, the immortal Spartacus of Hollywood, dies