Culture

Kirk Douglas Celebrates 100th Birthday

Kirk Douglas signing his name in concrete at Grauman's Chinese Theatre on November 1, 1962.Kirk Douglas signing his name in concrete at Grauman's Chinese Theatre on November 1, 1962.

In 1946, Harry Truman was the U.S. president, the United Nations held its first-ever meeting in London, basketball became a professional sport, and Frank Sinatra ruled the airwaves.

It also marked the year a then-little-known actor named Kirk Douglas made his Hollywood debut in the film noir "The Strange Love of Martha Ivers."

On Dec. 9 -- seven decades since that debut role -- Douglas celebrated his 100th birthday. The actor, who was born Issur Danielovitch in New York, remains one of the most famous movie stars on the planet and one of only a handful of still-surviving people from Hollywood's Golden Age.

In a memoir, Douglas traced his love of acting all the way back to kindergarten in 1920, when he recited "The Red Robin of Spring" during an assembly.

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“Something happened when I heard applause," the actor wrote. "I loved it. I still do."

Film buffs can rattle off each of Douglas' 91 movies, but even casual fans recognize the iconic actor from his turn as Spartacus in the titular 1960 film, Cactus Jack from 1979's "The Villain," and journalist Chuck Tatum in 1951's "Ace In The Hole."

Now a centenarian, Douglas remains active. He was spotted taking a walk near his Los Angeles home on Dec. 7, the Daily Mail reported. Douglas' wife of more than 60 years, 97-year-old Anne Buydens Douglas, was also spotted outside the house.

Douglas credits his wife and children for his longevity. One of his sons is Michael Douglas, who went on to become a Hollywood icon in his own right.

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But the elder Douglas said that while he's fortunate, it doesn't always feel that way.

“I am now 100 years old. I read about Hollywood, and I don’t know the people," Douglas said in an interview with Variety. "Where is Burt [Lancaster]? Where is Laurence Olivier? They’re all gone. I miss them. I feel lonely."

Sources: Variety, Daily Mail, IMDb, news.com.au / Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons