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Kirk Douglas dies at 103: The top 10 movies of the Hollywood legend’s career

Kirk Douglas dies at 103: The top 10 movies of the legend's career
Kirk Douglas with his wife Anne. Pic credit: @ImageCollect/Carrie-nelson

Kirk Douglas, the last great actor from the Golden Age of cinema, died today at the age of 103.

According to PEOPLE, it was his son Michael Douglas who announced his father’s death to the world.

“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.”

The amazing life of Kirk Douglas

Douglas lived through a helicopter crash in 1991. He suffered a massive stroke in 1996. Yet, he went on to live for over two more decades.

His career included three Oscar-nominated roles (Champion (1949), The Bad and the Beautiful (1952) and Lust for Life (1956) and more than 80 films before he finally retired in 2004.

However, in March 2009, Kirk Douglas starred in an autobiographical one-man show called Before I Forget.

Douglas had two sons, Michael and Joel, from his marriage to actress Diana Dill, who died in 2015 at age 92. He married Anne Buydens in 1954 and had two more children, Peter and Eric. Eric died in 2004.

Anne Buydens is still alive at the age of 100 and was married to Kirk Douglas for just over 65 years at the time of his death.

Here is a look at the 10 best Kirk Douglas movies of his career to watch to celebrate his life.

1. Paths of Glory

Kirk Douglas teamed with Stanley Kubrick in 1957 for the war movie Paths of Glory. The film took place during World War I, with Douglas as a colonel who commands French soldiers who refuse a suicide mission and then has to defend them at their court-martial.

2. Ace in the Hole

Released in 1951, Billy Wilder’s Ace in the Hole is a movie all journalists need to see. In the film, Douglas stars as a down-on-his-luck reporter who sees an event where a man is trapped in a cave and believes it could be his ticket back to success.

3. Spartacus

The story behind the making of Spartacus is almost more interesting than the actual movie. The film was written by Dalton Trumbo, a writer blacklisted as part of the Hollywood 10, during the Cold War scare hyped by Sen. Joseph McCarthy.

Douglas didn’t care and used his star power to get the movie made, a retelling of the classic slave revolt, directed by Stanley Kubrick.

4. Out of the Past

Out of the Past is a 1947 film noir that starred Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer, and Kirk Douglas. Mitchum is a gas station owner who crosses paths with a crooked gambler played by Douglas. The film was added to the U.S. National Film Registry in 1991.

5. The Bad and the Beautiful

One of the three movies that Douglas earned an Oscar nomination for was The Bad and the Beautiful. This was a movie about the dark underbelly of the film industry, with Douglas playing a hated film producer who is trying to put a movie together and faces backlash from the people he needs to complete it.

6. Lust for Life

The second film on this list that earned Kirk Douglas an Oscar nomination is Lust for Life. Released in 1956, this was a movie about Vincent van Gogh, with Douglas taking on the role of the famed painter.

While Douglas lost the Oscar race, he did bring home a Golden Globes award.

7. Champion

Champion was Kirk Douglas’ first Oscar nomination, although he didn’t win for any of his movies.

In this film, Douglas starred as a boxer who pushes himself to be the best in the ring but is less than successful outside the ring. It picked up five total Oscar nominations.

8. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

Kirk Douglas’ career wasn’t just about dramatic roles. In 1954, Douglas starred in the Disney live-action movie 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea as Ned Land, a man who meets the legendary Captain Nemo (James Mason) aboard the Nautilus.

9. Gunfight at the O.K. Corral

Kirk Douglas also tried his hand at westerns and was part of the cast of one of the best of the genre in the 50s. Directed by John Sturges, Gunfight at the O.K. Corral came out in 1957 and starred Kirk Douglas as Doc Holliday in the often-told story.

10. Detective Story

The least known movie on this list, Detective Story was released in 1951. William Wyler (Ben-Hur) directed the movie that told the story of a NY police detective battling the city’s lowlife. Douglas is that detective, Jim McLeod, a man pushed by his own anger into a man he no longer recognizes.


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