Kirk Douglas, known as one of the most beloved tough guys in Hollywood history on screen and a defender of blacklisted artists off screen, died Wednesday at age 103.
The actor’s son, Michael Douglas, announced his death on behalf of the Douglas family Wednesday in an Instagram post.
“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,” he wrote.
Kirk Douglas, who bravely and publicly fought his way back from a severe stroke in 1996, will be remembered for the grit and determination he showed on screen in action epics like “Spartacus” and “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,” biopics like “Lust for Life,” as well as more intimate character studies like “Lonely Are the Brave.” But it was his commitment to higher ideals in the film industry proved even more dramatic.
The actor was responsible for helping to break Hollywood’s infamous blacklist at the height of Cold War paranoia when he was instrumental in hiring and crediting legendary screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, a member of the so-called “Hollywood Ten,” for his work on “Spartacus.” Douglas was also a committed philanthropist and the father of an iconic actor in his own right, Michael Douglas.
“I’ve known Kirk Douglas personally and appreciate his friendship,” President Jimmy Carter said while awarding Douglas the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, in 1981. “But more than that, I have known how dedicated he is to using his talent as an actor and a director and the esteem with which he’s held by his own people in spreading the good news about this country and explaining our purposes, our ideals, our commitments, and our achievements, our hopes, and our dreams to people around the world.”