Kirk Douglas was nominated three times for an Oscar for best actor in the 1950s and received an honorary Academy Award in 1996. (Free Press Photo: AP)
A rebel who always did what he wanted, the protester who fought against the big studios and Hollywood blacklists, that is Kirk Douglas, who turns one hundred years old this Friday.
The career of this actor born in Amsterdam (New York) was marked by his physique, a cheeky half smile and the dimple in his chin that made the great directors (Mankiewicz, Wilder, Wyler, Hawks, Minelli …) notice him, and also some stars with whom Kirk, who was recognized as a “womanizer”, had idylls, such as Marlene Dietrich or Joan Crawford.
Happy Birthday Kirk!
It received three Academy Award nominations in its six-decade career, but the statuette only came in 1996, when it received an honorary Oscar.
Of the slave SpartacusSword in hand, to the deranged painter Vincent van Gogh, Kirk Douglas has starred in some of the most iconic roles in film history.
These are five of his most prominent roles:
The Clay Idol (1949)
In English Champion. Douglas won his first Oscar nomination with a hook for his role as Midge Kelly, a womanizing boxer who battles his own demons as he climbs in the sport.
Shot in 23 days on a $ 600,000 budget, the film ended up being the goose that lays golden eggs for director Mark Robson, who used one of his scenes to The Valley of the Dolls 20 years later.
In English The Bad and the Beautiful. Starring Lana Turner, Douglas plays an ambitious and relentless film producer Jonathan Shields, who unscrupulously uses colleagues and friends to rise to the top.
The actor lost the Oscar again, but Gloria Grahame won as a supporting actress with a record performance of just nine minutes and 32 seconds.
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954)
In the adaptation of Jules Verne’s novel – the first science fiction film ever shot with Cinemascope – it shows Douglas as the whaler Ned Land. The film has an 89% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and is considered one of Disney’s best films.
In his autobiography, Douglas recalls that, to maintain his reputation as a mere macho, he insisted on doing a scene where he was walking with a beautiful woman on his arm before beating up with a sailor.
In English Lust for Life and in Spain titled The madman with the red hair. His portrayal of a deranged Van Gogh earned him his third Oscar nomination.
The actor recalls that during the filming of the scene in which the painter – mentally ill and entangled in unhappy relationships – cuts off his ear, little Michael Douglas ran across the set thinking that his father had really done it.
It is certainly the role for which Douglas is best known. His portrayal of the rebellious slave turned gladiator cemented his place not only in film history, but in modern popular culture.
The epic film, directed by Stanley Kubrick, also ended the blacklist banned by communists in the industry. Douglas, whose company produced the film, credited vetted author Dalton Trumbo.
John F. Kennedy, then president-elect, broke ranks and watched the movie as opposed to the American Legion of Veterans he campaigned against.