Legendary actor, Kirk Douglas, passed on Feb. 5 at the age of 103. Though he’ll long be remembered for his work in the film industry, his more than six-decade marriage to Anne Buydens Douglas was, arguably, his greatest work. Is Anne still alive?
Back in the “golden age” of Hollywood, Kirk Douglas found major box office success. With dozens of projects under his belt, Kirk’s specialties fell in westerns, war films, and dramas. His first starring role came in the 1960 film, Spartacus.
Though Kirk and Anne’s love story has far-surpassed anything else the late actor has done, Anne wasn’t his first wife. From 1943 to 1951, Diana Love Dill (later Diana Douglas Webster) held the spot as Kirk’s leading lady.
They had two sons together, actor Michael and producer Joel, but ultimately divorced. Diana went on to marry Broadway producer, Bill Darrid, who passed in 1992, then Donald Webster, whom she remained married until her death in 2015 at the age of 92.
n a previous interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Diana credited Anne with her co-parenting relationship with Kirk.
“I know Michael has said since being an adult that he was always very grateful that we never did badmouth each other. Sometimes we probably wanted to. And also, I think that after [Kirk] got married to Anne, [she] made it very much easier, because she and I cooperated very much in terms of bedtimes and what they could watch on television and that kind of thing.”
Kirk, a successful actor at the time, and Anne, a film publicist, met on the set of Act of Love. Anne notoriously rejected Kirk’s initial advances.
“She was the most difficult woman I ever met,” Douglas said in an interview with USA Today. “I mean, I was a big movie star! And I invited her to dinner and she said, ‘Oh thank you very much, but I’m so tired.‘”
Kirk was engaged to actress Pier Angeli, but he broke it off to be with Anne. Eventually, they fell in love and married in May 1954.
In their joint memoir, Kirk and Anne: Letters of Love, Laughter, and a Lifetime in Hollywood, Kirk confessed his extra-marital affairs with stars like Patricia Neal, Riat Hayworth, and Joan Crawford’s daughter, Christina Crawford.
“Kirk never tried to hide his dalliances from me,” Anne said in the book. “As a European, I understood it was unrealistic to expect total fidelity in a marriage.”
Despite that, the two remained committed to each other, their marriage, and their family. They had two sons together, Peter, and Eric, adding to Kirk’s family with Diana.
Over the years, Kirk and Anne became well-known philanthropists, giving back to the Los Angeles Mission, which is an ode to the place that helped Kirk when he was just starting out in Hollywood.
Anne, a breast cancer survivor, created “Research for Women’s Cancers”, which raised money to finance a research facility at Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre in Los Angeles. The two also established an Alzheimer’s disease unit, Harry’s Haven (after Kirk’s father), at the Motion Picture & Television Fund Home in Woodland Hills.
In 2004, Kirk and Anne lost their son, actor and stand-up comedian, Eric, to an accidental drug overdose. That, along with Kirk’s depression after a stroke, could’ve come between the couple. Instead, the braved the storms and renewed their vows for their 50th wedding anniversary.
However, Kirk’s son with Diana, Michael, shared a tribute to his father via his Instagram page. He described his father as “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.”
He continued: “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.”
Kirk will be missed by many. Our thoughts are with Anne and the rest of the Douglas family during their difficult time.
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