Jewish-American Actor Kirk Douglas, one of the last surviving stars of Hollywood's Golden Age, passed away on Wednesday at the age of 103.
The actor, who had been in good health since suffering a stroke in 1996, is survived by his wife of 65 years, Anne, and his sons Michael, Joel, and Peter.
“It is with tremendous sadness that my brothers and I announce that Kirk Douglas left us today at the age of 103,” Michael said in a statement obtained by People Magazine. “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.”
“But to me and my brothers Joel and Peter he was simply Dad, to Catherine, a wonderful father-in-law, to his grandchildren and great grandchild their loving grandfather, and to his wife Anne, a wonderful husband,” added Michael Douglas.
“Kirk’s life was well lived, and he leaves a legacy in film that will endure for generations to come, and a history as a renowned philanthropist who worked to aid the public and bring peace to the planet,” Michael continued. “Let me end with the words I told him on his last birthday and which will always remain true. Dad- I love you so much and I am so proud to be your son.”
Douglas was born Issur Danielovitch in Amsterdam, New York, on December 9, 1916. His parents were Jewish immigrants from Chavusy, Mogilev Region, in the Russian Empire (present-day Belarus), and the family spoke Yiddish at home.
He was an avid supporter of Israel and noted in his memoir that he felt compelled to write to former president Jimmy Carter in 2006 in order to stress that "Israel is the only successful democracy in the Middle East ... [and] has had to endure many wars against overwhelming odds. If Israel loses one war, they lose Israel."
Douglas was nominated for "Best Actor" in the Academy Awards three times: For the 1956 film "Lust for Life;" 1952 film "Bad & the Beautiful;" and 1949 film "Champion." He also won an honorary Academy Award in 1996 for 50 years as a moral and creative force in motion pictures.