By Ismail Veli…….
Many of us cannot even imagine living to be a hundred years old. The great screen actor and Hollywood legend will be exactly that on 9 December. Born Issur Danielovich in Amsterdam, New York in 1916 to a very poor immigrant family he made his film debut in ”The Strange Love of Martha”, in 1946, he went on to become an iconic film actor, and starred in at least 90 films. Among my favourite films he starred in were, The Detective story (nominated for best actor), Ace in the Hole, Lust for life (won the best actor award), Last Train from Gun Hill, Cast a Giant Shadow, and of course Spartacus based on the true story of a slave Gladiator fighting against all the odds against the power of the Roman empire. These are just a few.
Kirk Douglas won numerous awards and was considered one of the greatest screen actors of all time. His gritty, versatility, determination and courage in many of his films personified his own character in real life. Having survived a helicopter accident in which 2 others were killed in 1991, and a stroke in 1996 it looked like his life was reaching the end, but just like his onscreen courage he fought, made a recovery and 20 years on is still with us. It was not always easy however, he fought against the ”black list” of the McCarthy witch hunts against actors who were perceived to be Communists. The McCarthy blacklists was a blot on the American film industry and still haunts Hollywood to this day.
Kirk Douglas has always been one of my favourite actors and I have yet to watch a film of his that I have not enjoyed. Not much I can say that has not been said about this iconic figure, other than to say, thank you for the immense pleasure he gave me and millions watching his films over the last 70 years. A legend on and off the screen his legacy will no doubt survive long after his and our lives come to an end.