June 20, 2021

Kirk Douglas: Tributes paid to ‘unforgettable’ Hollywood ‘icon’

Kirk Douglas has been remembered as an “unforgettable” actor and a film “icon” following his death at the age of 103.

His daughter-in-law Catherine Zeta-Jones led the tributes, writing: “To my darling Kirk, I shall love you for the rest of my life. I miss you already.”

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Tributes also came from director Steven Spielberg, Star Wars actor Mark Hamill and Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston.

Douglas, who played the title role in the 1960 classic Spartacus, enjoyed a career that spanned seven decades.

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Spielberg said Douglas left behind a “breathtaking body of work”.

He told The Hollywood Reporter: “Kirk retained his movie star charisma right to the end of his wonderful life and I’m honoured to have been a small part of his last 45 years.”

Jamie Lee Curtis, whose father Tony was also in Spartacus, declared: “He LOVED you as the world loved you. Your Passion. Talent. Politics. Family. Art. Strength.”

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“I love you Spartacus, like the father I never had.” Antoninus
I did have a father and he LOVED you as the world loved you. Your Passion.Talent. Politics. Family. Art. Strength. I grew up with the Douglas boys. My love to Anne and all his family from mine. pic.twitter.com/nPlZIFQ7DW

— Jamie Lee Curtis (@jamieleecurtis) February 6, 2020
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Hamill described Douglas as “one of the biggest stars of all time”, as well as “a brilliant actor with an unforgettable, blazing charisma”.

He also referenced Douglas’s role in ending the 1950s Hollywood blacklist by defying the ban on working with film-makers with alleged communist sympathies.

Rob Reiner, who directed films including This Is Spinal Tap and When Harry Met Sally, described him as an “icon in the pantheon of Hollywood”.

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KIrk Douglas will always be an icon in the pantheon of Hollywood. He put himself on the line to break the blacklist. My love goes out to my friend Michael and the whole family.

— Rob Reiner (@robreiner) February 5, 2020
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The Hollywood veteran’s death was announced on Wednesday by his son, fellow actor Michael Douglas.

“To the world he was a legend, an actor from the golden age of movies who lived well into his golden years,” he wrote on Instagram.

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Kirk Douglas rose to prominence during Hollywood’s “golden age”, earning the first of three Oscar nominations for the 1949 film Champion.

As Spartacus, the leader of a Roman slave revolt in Stanley Kubrick’s 1960 historical epic, Douglas helped to provide one of Hollywood’s first catchphrases.

After a Roman general declared that a group of slaves would only avoid crucifixion if they identified Spartacus, all of the slaves stood up and declared “I’m Spartacus”.

The now immortal phrase has continued to be used in modern culture and as a meme, to show solidarity with someone, or to stop a person’s identity being revealed.

Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston used the phrase to sign off after his glowing tribute to “a towering presence in film history”.

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