I’m Spartacus! Kirk Douglas turns 100 today! He has had an illustrious career, and is one of those actors who can make almost any part good. Despite his various roles, he’ll always be Spartacus to me. Though he wanted to make Spartacus a testimony to the establishment of the State of Israel, Dalton Trumbo got his way and made it into a not too thinly veiled dig at the Untied States and a celebration of Communism.
Still, it’s a great movie all around. Directed by Stanley Kubrick and also staring Charles Laughton, Tony Curtis, Jean Simmons, the legendary Lawrence Olivier, and Peter Ustinov in one of the best support roles in movie history, Spartacus couldn’t help but be great. Made in the waning days of the Epic Era of Hollywood, it still resonates today.
There were other films of course. Working again with Kubrick, he starred in the stirring Paths of Glory, a must see movie for anyone who thinks war is ever something to be cheered and glorified. His turn as Vincent van Gogh in Lust for Life is also a movie that shouldn’t be missed. There were others, of course. He costarred in the flawed, yet watchable, In Harm’s Way, costarring next to John Wayne. And, of course, there’s always Disney’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea for the kiddies. And many, many, many more.If you can, read his autobiography The Ragman’s Son. It tells of his struggles and the difficulties he had as the son of a Russian Jewish immigrant. I’m not given to celebrity autobiographies, but if you only read five in your life, read that one.
Douglas was still of that era where you could be passionate about your beliefs, yet like and even respect those who disagreed. An age where John Wayne and Katharine Hepburn could love working with each other despite being polar opposites on almost every level.
I remember when George Burns turned 100. It was a different era, and so everyone knew about it. Plus, Burns had made his age part of his act. A stroke and other health problems have, sadly, made it more difficult for Mr. Douglas to stay in the spotlight. Not to mention changing times. Nonetheless, he’s stayed out there, even blogging for Huffpost and maintaining his own blog and staying up with the times. I think anything he had to offer would be worth hearing.
Here’s to you Mr. Douglas. Thanks for the memories, and may you have many more years to enjoy this life you’ve helped enrich!
A tribute to Kirk from his son Michael.