Kirk Douglas, one of the last superstars of Hollywood’s golden age of cinema and renowned for his intense, muscular performances, died Wednesday aged 103.
Silver screen legend Kirk Douglas has died at the age of 103, after an illustrious career spanning more than a half century.
The US leading man, producer and director came to prominence in the late 1940s.
He never lost his popularity, taking on nearly 100 movies during a 60-year career.
His death at his family home in Beverly Hills confirmed by his son Michael Douglas, the Oscar-winning actor and filmmaker.
Douglas, born Issur Danielovitch to Jewish-Russian immigrants in upstate New York in 1916.
He began working as a stage actor before joining the United States Navy during the Second World War.
Kirk graduated to movies in 1946 when Casablanca producer Hal Wallis signed him.
He became a star for his role as a double-crossing and womanising boxer in 1949’s Champion.
Here is a selection of Douglas’s most famous roles, with a concentration of great performances coming in the 1950s and 1960s.
In one of his most memorable early appearances, Douglas showed his mettle as a boxing champ in this rags-to-glory tale that earned the actor his first of three Oscar nominations.
It also captured the fighting spirit he would bring to future roles.
“I didn’t think I was so tough until I did Champion, then I was a tough guy,” Douglas told The Hollywood Reporter in 2012.
The Bad and the Beautiful (1952)
Douglas teamed up with Hollywood directing legend Vincenti Minnelli for this melodrama about a sharp-suited, slick-haired film producer strutting around movieland, seductive and ruthless in equal measure.
Winning a second Oscar nomination, Douglas showcased a different kind of toughness as he embodied the negative forces in the cinema world, where beauty is fragile and money is power.
Lust for Life (1956)
In one of the most memorable screen incarnations of Vincent Van Gogh and a radical break from his tough-guy roles, Douglas captured the tortured artist’s brilliance and madness and notched a third Oscar nod.
“I was close to getting lost in the character,” said Douglas in his autobiography The Ragman’s Son (1988) about the particularly intense experience of playing the artist, who famously cut off his own ear.
“Sometimes I had to stop myself from reaching my hand up and touching my ear to find out if it was actually there. It was a frightening experience. That way lies madness.”
Kirk Douglas granted an honorary lifetime achievement statuette by the Academy in 1996 – just months after a severe stroke.
Douglas is survived by his second wife Anne Buydens, 100, and three sons.
A fourth child, Eric, died of a drug overdose in his 40s, in 2004.