Catherine Zeta Jones has led the tributes to her father-in-law Kirk Douglas after the Hollywood star died at the age of 103.
Douglas, one of the last surviving members of Hollywood’s golden age, was the patriarch of an acting dynasty and known for films including Spartacus, Ace In The Hole and Champion.
His death in Beverly Hills on Wednesday was announced in a touching message from his oldest son Michael Douglas, a two-time Oscar winner and screen great in his own right.
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It is with tremendous sadness that my brothers and I announce that Kirk Douglas left us today at the age of 103. To the world he was 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. 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's life was well lived, and he leaves a legacy in film that will endure for generations to come, and a history as a renowned philanthropist who worked to aid the public and bring peace to the planet. Let me end with the words I told him on his last birthday and which will always remain true. Dad- I love you so much and I am so proud to be your son. #KirkDouglas
The 75-year-old said in a statement that while the world saw him as a storied actor, to the Douglas family he was a father, a loving grandfather and a wonderful husband.
Welsh actress Zeta Jones married Michael in 2000 and the couple have two children. She regularly posted touching messages to Douglas and shortly after his death paid tribute to “my darling Kirk”.
Alongside a black-and-white picture showing her kissing him on the cheek, Zeta Jones wrote: “I shall love you for the rest of my life. I miss you already. Sleep tight…”
A host of other Hollywood stars rushed to add their own tributes. Mark Hamill, best known for playing Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars films, said Douglas was one of the biggest stars of all time and “a brilliant actor with an unforgettable, blazing charisma”.
Kirk Douglas was one of the biggest stars of all time & a brilliant actor with an unforgettable, blazing charisma. He will also be remembered for putting his career on the line by defying the Hollywood Blacklist, hiring writer Dalton Trumbo for the classic Spartacus. #RIP 💔 pic.twitter.com/snzoHPMtDr— Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself) February 6, 2020
Hamill added: “He will also be remembered for putting his career on the line by defying the Hollywood Blacklist, hiring writer Dalton Trumbo for the classic Spartacus.”
Rocky actor Sylvester Stallone described Douglas as one of his heroes.
He wrote on Instagram: “The last great giant of my cinema heroes has passed on to Infinite glory. Amazing artist… the likes of which we will never ever see again!”
Revered director Steven Spielberg said Douglas left behind a “breathtaking body of work”.
“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,” Spielberg said in a statement to the Hollywood Reporter.
“I will miss his handwritten notes, letters and fatherly advice, and his wisdom and courage – even beyond such a breathtaking body of work – are enough to inspire me for the rest of mine.”
Mitzi Gaynor, who starred alongside Douglas in the 1963 film For Love Or Money reflected on their time working together.
Bravo Kirk Douglas on an incredible life. Thank you for so generously sharing your amazing talent with all of us. The film we made together will always hold a special place in my heart. My love to Anne & your beautiful family. #KirkDouglas— Mitzi Gaynor (@TheMitziGaynor) February 5, 2020
She tweeted: “Bravo Kirk Douglas on an incredible life. Thank you for so generously sharing your amazing talent with all of us. The film we made together will always hold a special place in my heart. My love to Anne & your beautiful family.”
Rob Reiner, the celebrated director of films such as A Few Good Men, called Douglas an icon.
“Kirk Douglas will always be an icon in the pantheon of Hollywood,” he tweeted. “He put himself on the line to break the blacklist. My love goes out to my friend Michael and the whole family.”
Star Trek actor William Shatner paid his respects to Douglas’s family.
Condolences to the family of Kirk Douglas. What an incredible icon he was in this industry! 😞— William Shatner (@WilliamShatner) February 5, 2020
“Condolences to the family of Kirk Douglas. What an incredible icon he was in this industry!,” Shatner said.
Actor Danny DeVito was upbeat in his reflection of Douglas’ career, tweeting: “Kirk Douglas. The inspirational Scalawag. 103 years on this earth. That’s got a nice ring to it! Great hanging with you man.”
Seinfeld actor Jason Alexander tweeted: “Heartbroken. Kirk Douglas was a friend and an absolute legend of a star and human. He got better with every passing day. So honoured to have known him. My love to his family. We could use a true Spartacus.”
âI wanted to be an actor ever since I was a kid in the second grade. I did a play, and my mother made a black apron, and I played a shoemaker. After the performance, [my father] gave me my first Oscar: an ice cream cone.â -Kirk Douglas— The Academy (@TheAcademy) February 5, 2020
Goodbye to a Hollywood legend. pic.twitter.com/vnu1Hkb2FA
And the Academy, which nominated Douglas for three Oscars and awarded him an honorary gong in 1996, said in a tweet he was a “Hollywood legend”.