Just a few weeks on from his death on February 5th, the Hollywood legend Kirk Douglas is continuing to make headlines across the world’s media.
In recent days, news outlets across the globe have been focusing on how his fortune is being handled after his death, with the late actor reportedly choosing to leave the majority of his $61 million of assets to charity. More specifically, $50 million will be going to the Douglas Foundation, an organisation he set up with his wife in 1964.
It is perhaps fitting in a way that such a legend of the screen is continuing to hit the news following his death at the incredible age of 103. After all, this is a man who lived much of his remarkable life in the spotlight.
Douglas achieved much through his career in film – including, most notably, three Oscar nominations. While he was unfortunate not to win on those occasions, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences did choose to eventually honour him with a lifetime achievement award in 1996.
However, he was certainly an individual who did a lot more away from the big screen too and is particularly associated with the battle against the notorious Hollywood blacklist, with many citing his decision to hire Dalton Trumbo to script Spartacus as an important step forward on the issue.
Of course, he also kept movie stardom in the family via his son Michael, who has gone on to have a long, successful and varied career himself. His starring roles have taken in everything from the action and adventure of Romancing the Stone to Basic Instinct and – more recently – to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with the Ant-Man franchise.
It is evident that Kirk Douglas enjoyed an incredible life, but he will forever be associated with his career in film – including one key role in particular.
An iconic Hollywood classic
Spartacus is arguably one of the most iconic Hollywood films ever made, with Douglas featuring alongside an all-star cast of icons from Laurence Olivier and Peter Ustinov to Jean Simmons and Tony Curtis. Not only that, but they were also under the direction of the legendary Stanley Kubrick.
Based on Howard Fast’s novel, the film was written by Dalton Trumbo, with Douglas’s decision to hire him being seen as a big risk considering the writer had been blacklisted by Hollywood due to rumoured links with communism. However, it paid off in huge style, with the film ultimately winning four Oscars and even being selected to be preserved in the United States National Film Registry. Not only that, but the story and the classic cry of “I am Spartacus” has helped it become a pop culture phenomenon.
A full 60 years after its release, Spartacus exercises a pull for 21st-century audiences. ATV show based on the Spartacus legend has been made in recent years, while Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters also used the famous “I am Spartacus” clip during a live show of The Wall in the 2010s. Spartacus has even made the leap into gaming too, with Spartacus: Gladiator of Rome being among the free slot games that you can play at online casinos. Furthermore, board games have been made featuring the character, while Ubisoft also published the Spartacus Legends video game in 2013.
More to enjoy
However, while Spartacus is arguably Douglas’s most iconic moment on film, movie fans should certainly seek out some of his other performances to get a clearer picture of his talents in front of the camera.
While he made his film debut in The Strange Love of Martha Ivers, it was his role as a boxer in 1949’s Champion that earned him his first ever Oscar nomination. His second came following his performance in The Bad and the Beautiful in 1952, while four years later he was again put forward for a prize after his acclaimed role as Vincent Van Gogh in Lust for Life.
Despite suffering a stroke in 1996, Douglas continued to make films up until his retirement in 2008. His last big screen appearance was in the indie film Illusion, which was released in 2004.
A fascinating legacy
As his career highlights, Kirk Douglas has left a truly fascinating legacy behind following his passing. If you’re keen to discover how he ultimately became an emblematic icon of Hollywood, we would truly recommend checking out some of the classics mentioned above.