Thursday, February 06, 2020

A Memorable Life

"Life can never be long enough." ~ Tim Green

Kirk Douglas, one of the last true movie stars of Hollywood's golden age, died this week at age 103. The iconic actor starred in over 70 films, many of them iconic classics .Perhaps most famous among his leading roles is that of the rebellious slave in the 1960 movie, Spartacus.

Truthfully, he was not one of my favorite actors, although I watched and enjoyed quite a few of his movies--some of them multiple times. I often found the fierce intensity of his character portrayals a bit distracting. But there is no denying that he was a talented, accomplished, and successful actor.

Kirk Douglas as Spartacus
Spartacus is perhaps the most popular and well-known favorite among his films, but I think the best performance of Kirk Douglas's career was in 1957's Paths of Glory, directed by Stanley Kubrick. It's a grim tale of three World War I soldiers condemned to be executed for cowardice. Douglas plays their commanding officer who defends them, and his customary passion fits well with the part. I stumbled upon the movie one night many years ago on a PBS channel and decided to watch. It was one of those films that holds on and haunts you after the credits have rolled.

At 103 years old, Douglas had long outlived his Hollywood contemporaries. Some of his fellow stars that once shone in the Kirk Douglas galaxy have been gone for many decades. (There is perhaps only one star left from that golden age--Olivia de Haviland. She, too, is 103 years old.)

Kirk Douglas lived a very long and full life in which his legendary acting career was but one prominent part. He was a husband and a father of four sons. He was a World War II U.S. Navy veteran. With his wife Anne, he was a generous philanthropist to numerous charities and non-profit organizations. Douglas was also an author; he was even a blogger. But it's inevitable and also fitting that, to so many Americans, he will always be Spartacus.