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The last living Hollywood Legend of the Golden Age turns 96 today. He has appeared in dozens of movies from the 1940's to the 1980's. He is most famous for the movie's Spartacus, 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, Paths of Glory, The Vikings, and many others.

And he is also the father of Michael Douglas, a prolific actor in his own right.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Douglas!


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Truly the last living great Hollywood star, and one of the greatest ever. Today's so called "stars", almost all of them complete fakes, could learn a lot from the simple, understated integrity of an actor like Kirk Douglas.

He seems to have a great family too, who bonded together when Kirk had his stroke.

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The last living Hollywood Legend of the Golden Age turns 96 today. He has appeared in dozens of movies from the 1940's to the 1980's. He is most famous for the movie's Spartacus, 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, Paths of Glory, The Vikings, and many others.

And he is also the father of Michael Douglas, a prolific actor in his own right.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Douglas!


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Kirk Douglas turns 96: Last of the screen idols

By Bob Greene, CNN Contributor

updated 11:19 AM EST, Sun December 9, 2012

121209042633-15-kirk-douglas-horizontal-gallery.jpgKirk Douglas was born in Amsterdam, New York, on December 9, 1916. He made his Broadway debut in 1941, served in the U.S. Navy and embarked on a screen career in 1946. Popular films include "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea," "Spartacus" and "The Bad and the Beautiful." Douglas also worked as director. Douglas is shown in a studio portrait, circa 1955.

121209114850-06-kirk-douglas-horizontal-gallery.jpgDouglas, seen in a portrait from the 1950s, changed his name several times before settling on Kirk Douglas. Previous names include Issur Danielovitch Demsky, Issur Danielovitch and Isadore Demsky.

121209121323-08-kirk-douglas-horizontal-gallery.jpgDouglas sits at a picnic table on the desert location for director Billy Wilder's film "Ace In The Hole" as other crew members eat in the background in 1951.

121209020652-11-kirk-douglas-horizontal-gallery.jpgDouglas and actor Anthony Quinn, right, perform in director Vincente Minnelli's film "Lust for Life," which premiered in 1956. Douglas plays Vincent Van Gogh.

121209020659-09-kirk-douglas-horizontal-gallery.jpgKirk Douglas looks at a book with his second wife, Anne Buydens, circa 1956. The two married in 1954.

121209020656-10-kirk-douglas-horizontal-gallery.jpgDouglas kneels beside his sons, Joel, left, and Michael, circa 1955. Joel and Michael followed their father's career path and became actors.

121209114853-05-kirk-douglas-horizontal-gallery.jpgDouglas is seen at the Rome airport on his way to a safari in Kenya in 1962.

121209042544-14-kirk-douglas-horizontal-gallery.jpgKirk Douglas and his son Michael Douglas on the set of the film "Cast a Giant Shadow" directed by Melville Shavelson in Rome, 1965. Kirk starred and Michael worked as assistant director.

121209021017-12-kirk-douglas-horizontal-gallery.jpgDouglas speaks at a press conference in 1980 during the 33rd Cannes International Film Festival.

121209020649-13-kirk-douglas-horizontal-gallery.jpgActor Jack Nicholson greets Kirk Douglas and his son, Michael, after a ceremony honoring Michael, who placed his hands and footprints in cement at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in 1997. Michael Douglas is the first "second generation" movie star to be honored. Kirk Douglas' handprints were imprinted there in 1962.

121209114900-03-kirk-douglas-horizontal-gallery.jpgFrom left, Corbin Allred, Dan Aykroyd, and Kirk Douglas star in "Diamonds," 1999.

121209114843-02-kirk-douglas-horizontal-gallery.jpgKirk Douglas and son, actor Michael Douglas, attend the Simon Wiesenthal Center's National Tribute Dinner honoring Michael Douglas with the 2001 Humanitarian Award on June 25, 2001. Kirk Douglas has appeared in two movies with his son.


  • Bob Greene says Kirk Douglas is Hollywood's last remaining Golden Age idol

  • In "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea," he played a seafarer and sang a memorable song

  • Greene watched a TV version in which song was cut; he called Douglas, who was appalled

  • Greene: Douglas turns 96 today, has come far from his early N.Y. days as Issur Danielovitch

Editor's note: CNN Contributor Bob Greene is a bestselling author whose 25 books include "Late Edition: A Love Story"; "Once Upon a Town: The Miracle of the North Platte Canteen"; and "When We Get to Surf City: A Journey Through America in Pursuit of Rock and Roll, Friendship, and Dreams."

(CNN) -- At dinnertime the other evening I walked into a seafood restaurant in a small strip mall off U.S. 41 in southwestern Florida.

The décor was faithful to an under-the-ocean theme, right down to bubbling water behind portholes built into one wall.

Along a corridor, on the door to the men's room, was a framed photograph of a young, smiling Kirk Douglas. You couldn't look at it without grinning.

Even if you had never set eyes on him in your life, you would know in a glance that this guy was some sort of star. The business he was in -- the movie-star business -- has always been built on instant visceral reaction. You've got star quality, or you don't.

With Kirk Douglas, there was never a question. He was golden.

I bring this up because Sunday is Douglas' birthday. He is turning -- believe it or not -- 96.

He is the last man standing of all the great name-above-the-title stars of Hollywood's so-called Golden Age. John Wayne, Gary Cooper, Humphrey Bogart, Jimmy Stewart, Clark Gable -- all of them, except him, gone.

I knew exactly why that photograph of Douglas was on the door to the men's room in the submarine-themed restaurant. One of Douglas' most unforgettable movies was 1954's "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea," adapted from the Jules Verne saga. Douglas played the swashbuckling seafarer Ned Land.

<a href="http://www.cnn.com/2009/SHOWBIZ/Movies/04/09/kirk.douglas/index.html" target="_blank">From the archives: Kirk Douglas, 92, takes stock of his life

It was the first favorite movie of my life. I must have seen it at least six times in the big palace of a downtown theater in our Midwestern hometown. I kept making my parents take me.

The whole movie was thrilling, but one scene topped them all:

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Douglas, in a red-and-white-striped T-shirt, a guitar in his hands, sang a song called "Whale of a Tale"to his shipmates:

"Got a whale of a tale to tell you, lads. . . ."

No textbooks are needed to define what constitutes star quality. That one bit of film contains all the information necessary.

About 25 years ago, I saw in the paper that "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" was scheduled to be broadcast in prime time on ABC. This was in the pre-YouTube, pre-Netflix era; if a wonderful old movie was going to be aired, your one shot at seeing it was at the whim and convenience of a network.

I eagerly awaited -- especially for the chance to see and hear Kirk Douglas sing "Whale of a Tale" one more time.

I watched the movie -- every minute of it.

No "Whale of a Tale."

They had cut it out, for time reasons. "Edited for television."

I couldn't believe they'd done it. The next morning, I remembered that I knew someone who knew someone who claimed to know Kirk Douglas. I made a few phone calls, and was given a California number that I was told was Douglas' business office.

I called, expecting to leave a message.

And Kirk Douglas picked up the phone.

I asked him if he'd heard about how the movie had been edited.

He hadn't. "I rarely watch my own films," he said. "They're for other people, not for me."

I told him that "Whale of a Tale" had been taken out of the TV version.

He became livid. Furious.

"That's a sacrilege," he said. "I had no idea they'd done that. If they can't use 'Whale of a Tale,' then they shouldn't run the picture at all."

I could barely concentrate on what he was saying, because it was hard enough processing the fact that I was talking with Kirk Douglas.

"It was really a rollicking song that everyone liked," he said. "'20,000 Leagues Under the Sea' holds a very special place in my heart, because it was the movie that made me a star to young kids. In my earlier movies I had played rather rough characters -- characters that kids probably shouldn't have seen. But when I played Ned Land in '20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,' all of a sudden I had a whole new audience."

From the archives: Douglas deals frankly with stroke, depression

And then, in the middle of our conversation, without prompting, he did something that will stay with me forever.

He started to sing "Whale of a Tale" over the telephone:

"Got a whale of a tale to tell you lads, a whale of a tale or two. . ."

The sound of that voice, across all the years. The magic of a movie star:

". . .'bout the flapping fish and the girls I've loved, on nights like this with the moon above, a whale of a tale and it's all true, I swear by my tattoo."

Being 96 is often not much fun for those who make it to that age, and Douglas has battled health problems in recent years. The last of those legends with the special something that turns out to be eternal. All those indelible roles, in "A Letter to Three Wives" and "Ace in the Hole" and "The Bad and the Beautiful" and "Strangers When We Meet" and "Spartacus" and "Seven Days in May". . . .

When Douglas started making pictures, Charlie Chaplin was still acting in movies. Douglas' son Michael has already had a long and full movie career. Ninety-six. I stood in that restaurant and looked at him grinning off the painted door, the wattage of the smile above his cleft chin undimmed.

Happy birthday, sir. What a life, for Issur Danielovitch, as he was named by his parents on December 9, 1916, in Amsterdam, New York -- what a life for the self-described ragman's son who decided he would be Kirk Douglas, and see where that might take him.

A whale of a tale, and it's all true.

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icon1.gifNostalgia Files: Kirk Douglas Rapes Natalie Wood


"This story concerns one of the biggest male stars ever, and one of the most beloved female stars to ever live…

One day she was invited to meet with this movie star about an upcoming major role. This man was a legend already, and was very powerful. … Thinking she herself was powerful and savvy, she accepted the invite. In his hotel room. She never saw it coming.

Without even discussing the film, this actor — drunk already — began making a pass at her. She politely declined, and excused herself. He wouldn't have it. He literally threw her down, slapped the hell out of her, and ripped her clothes off. He shouted obscenities at her, continually punched and held her arms so tight he left scars and bruises.

He raped her repeatedly, spitting on her, and did permanent damage to her body. She was bleeding everywhere, with a battered face. She passed out. When she came to, the actor was still in the room gloating, and told her to come see him tomorrow night and he might give her the role. He laughed at her as she fell down, her legs so wobbly and weak. She gathered her torn clothes, and tried to walk out of the hotel and to her car - blood and semen running down her legs and bruises already forming on her face.

She could barely make it back home in her car. She wanted to kill herself, so ashamed of what happened. The damage to her psyche was permanent, and haunted her forever.

…Her mom said she must have made the actor mad and offended him. They called a doctor, who took her to the hospital secretly to have her treated… The studio knew, and did nothing. After all, the star actor was a money machine. … She grew into an amazing woman with a legendary career. But she never forgot, or forgave, and never got over what happened.

She never named the star actor publicly, but her friends and family knew the truth. Even after marriage and kids, if she saw this actor anywhere - she would almost convulse and cry. And worst of all, Hollywood and the world continued to honor him, pay him, and treat him like a king."

Poster "Himmmm" ( Rumored to be Robert Downey Jr) went on to name the actor in question:

"Today, he's still alive and barely holding on. But those who know the truth are still hoping and praying he will rot in hell for eternity. That all his good deeds and donations will never mask the truth…

So when the time comes, and the now 95-year-old Kirk Douglas, the superstar actor, finally dies, there will be tributes and honors about him. Just remember that he is a monster who never repented, apologized, nor showed any sorrow for destroying the lives of others. Especially the life of that young beloved actress named Natalie Wood."


Issur Danielovitch, aka 'Kirk Douglas'

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