Kirk Douglas, one of the last surviving stars from Hollywood’s golden age, died at his home in Beverly Hills, California on Wednesday, aged 103.
The legendary actor rose to prominence through such flicks as “Lust for Life”, “Spartacus” and “Paths of Glory”. His son Michael Douglas announced his passing in a statement on social media.
Born Issur Danielovitch to Jewish-Russian immigrants in New York state in 1916, Douglas grew up as Izzy Demsk, sharing a home with six sisters.
The conditions were poor – Douglas had to sell snacks to mill workers to earn enough to buy milk and bread to help his family.
Douglas, a lifelong member of the Democratic Party, was never afraid of discussing politics. Among many other things, he acted as a goodwill ambassador for the U.S. Information Agency, speaking to audiences about why democracy works and what freedom means.
The legendary actor was involved in numerous volunteer and philanthropic activities, traveling to more than 40 countries at his own expense. In 1981, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Jimmy Carter for his goodwill efforts.
In September 2016, during the US election campaign, Douglas wrote a letter in the Huffington Post where he sent a warning to the American people.
”They say there is nothing new under the sun. Since I was born, our planet has traveled around it one hundred times. With each orbit, I’ve watched our country and our world evolve in ways that would have been unimaginable to my parents – and continue to amaze me with each passing year,” he wrote.
Reflecting on his life and upbringing and without mentioning his name, Douglas compared the rise of Adolf Hitler with the populist rhetoric of Donald Trump.
”I’ve lived through the horrors of a Great Depression and two World Wars, the second of which was started by a man who promised that he would restore his country it to its former greatness.
I was 16 when that man came to power in 1933. For almost a decade before his rise he was laughed at ― not taken seriously. He was seen as a buffoon who couldn’t possibly deceive an educated, civilized population with his nationalistic, hateful rhetoric.
The “experts” dismissed him as a joke. They were wrong.”
Douglas, who enlisted in the United States Navy in 1941, shortly after the United States entered World War II, urged his fellow citizens to always protect the freedom of democracy they fought so hard for.
”Until now, I believed I had finally seen everything under the sun. But this was the kind of fear-mongering I have never before witnessed from a major U.S. presidential candidate in my lifetime.
I have lived a long, good life. I will not be here to see the consequences if this evil takes root in our country. But your children and mine will be. And their children. And their children’s children.
All of us still yearn to remain free. It is what we stand for as a country. I have always been deeply proud to be an American. In the time I have left, I pray that will never change. In our democracy, the decision to remain free is ours to make.”
After the announcement of Kirk Douglas’s death, the letter to Trump has started to circulate once again and many people have praised the legendary actor for the words he wrote in 2016.
Rest in peace, Kirk Douglas – 1916-2020 ❤️🙏