Kirk Douglas Dead: ‘Spartacus’ Actor Dies at 103

Kirk Douglas has died at age 103, his family announced on Wednesday, February 5.

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“It is with tremendous sadness that my brothers and I announce that Kirk Douglas left us today at the age of 103,” Michael Douglas wrote on Instagram alongside a photo of his father. “To the world, he was a legend, an actor from the golden age of movies who lived well into his golden years, a humanitarian whose commitment to justice and the causes he believed in set a standard for all of us to aspire to.”

The actor, 75, continued, “But to me and my brothers Joel [Douglas] and Peter [Douglas] he was simply Dad, to Catherine [Zeta-Jones], a wonderful father-in-law, to his grandchildren and great grandchild their loving grandfather, and to his wife Anne [Buydens], a wonderful husband.”

Kirk Douglas Dead Spartacus Actor Dies 103
Kirk Douglas in ‘Spartacus’ – 1960. Bryna/Universal/Kobal/Shutterstock

The Spartacus star, who was one of the last surviving actors from Hollywood’s Golden Age, starred in more than 90 movies and television shows since beginning his career in the 1940s. He became a household name with his role as Midge Kelly in Champion, which earned him his first Academy Award nomination in 1949. His successful career included roles in box-office hits such as The Bad and the Beautiful (1953) and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1953).

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Among the many honors Kirk received — including a SAG Lifetime Achievement Award in 1991 and a Golden Globe for his role in 1956’s Lust for Life — he was also given the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Jimmy Carter in 1981. The Golden Globes also honored him in 2018, where he was accompanied by his daughter-in-law Zeta-Jones.

In 1991, the award winner was involved in a helicopter crash that killed two men when a small plane collided into the aircraft above Santa Paula Airport. Five years later, he suffered a stroke that impacted his ability to speak. He underwent speech therapy and learned to talk again, and the experience motivated him to write about the experience in My Stroke of Luck. 

Kirk Douglas Dead Spartacus Actor Dies 103
Michael Douglas and Kirk Douglas at The 84th Annual Academy Awards, Vanity Fair Party on February 26, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. Matt Baron/BEI/Shutterstock

Kirk was previously married to Diana Dill, with whom he shared sons Michael and Joel, before they divorced in 1951. He later met producer Buydens in Paris while working on Lust for Life, and they married in 1954. The pair went on to have two children, Peter and Eric, an actor who died from an overdose in 2004.

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The legendary performer is survived by wife Buydens, 100, sons Michael, Joel and Peter Douglas, and grandchildren Cameron Douglas, Carys Douglas, Dylan Michael Douglas, Ryan Douglas, Tyler Douglas, Kelsey Douglas and Jason Douglas.

People was first to report the news.

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