Legendary Actor Kirk Douglas Dies at 103
Postcard photo of the Grauman's Chinese Theatre ceremony for Kirk Douglas. Donald O'Connor and George Jessel look on as Douglas signs his name in the wet concrete on November 1, 1962 [Photo: © Mitock and Sons / Wikipedia]
By edhat staff
Hollywood's iconic actor and part-time Montecito resident Kirk Douglas passed away at age 103 on Wednesday.
Douglas was born on December 9, 1916, in New York under the name Issur Danielovitch. He appeared in more than 90 films with a resume that includes actor, producer, director, philanthropist, and author. He is best known for his role as Spartacus in the film of the same name that offered the legendary line, "I am Spartacus." Other breakout roles include an unscrupulous boxing hero in Champion and portraying Vincent van Gogh in Lust for Life .
Douglas received three Academy Award nominations, an Oscar for Lifetime Achievement, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and an honorary award named after him at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF). Since 2006, the annual Kirk Douglas Award for Excellence in Film has been awarded to a lifelong contributor to cinema through their work in front of the camera, behind, or both. Past honorees include Martin Scorsese, Hugh Jackman, Dame Judi Dench, Jane Fonda, Jessica Lange, Forest Whitaker, Robert De Niro, and Michael Douglas.
"He is - and will always be our 'Champion' - he is and will always be our 'Spartacus.' [Douglas] said, 'In order to achieve anything, you must be brave enough to fail.' And that's the way he lived his life. Bravely," said SBIFF Executive Director Roger Durling.
In February 1991, Douglas was in a helicopter and was injured when the aircraft collided with a small plane above Santa Paula Airport. Two other people were also injured; two people in the plane were killed. Surviving the crash made Douglas search for meaning and closely study Judaism in which he was raised.
Douglas and his long-time wife Anne Buydens were part-time residents of Montecito who were known to regularly dine at Lucky's Restaurant on Coast Village Road. He has four sons, Michael who followed his footsteps into acting, Joel, Peter, and Eric Douglas.
The Douglas family will be forever memorialized in Santa Barbara through the Douglas Family Preserve, a strip of coastal land on the Mesa overlooking Hendry's Beach. Several development plans were slated for the property until locals raised over $2 million to help the Trust for Public Land purchased the land for $3.6 million. The park was then named the "Douglas Family Preserve" to honor the $600,000 contribution by Michael Douglas.