Anything L.A.

Aug 022013
 

ELLEN DEGENERES RETURNS TO HOST THE OSCARS

Television icon Ellen DeGeneres will return to host the Oscars® for a second time, producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron announced today. The Academy Awards® will be broadcast live on Oscar Sunday, March 2, 2014, on the ABC Television Network.

“We are thrilled to have Ellen DeGeneres host the Oscars,” said Zadan and Meron. “As a longtime friend, we had always hoped to find a project for us to do together and nothing could be more exciting than teaming up to do the Oscars. There are few stars today who have Ellen’s gift for comedy, with her great warmth and humanity. She is beloved everywhere and we expect that the audience at the Dolby Theatre, and in homes around the globe, will be as excited by this news as we are.”

“I am so excited to be hosting the Oscars for the second time. You know what they say – the third time’s the charm,” said DeGeneres.

“I agreed with Craig and Neil immediately that Ellen is the ideal host for this year’s show,” said Cheryl Boone Isaacs, Academy President. “We’re looking forward to an entertaining, engaging and fun show.”

“Ellen is talented, wonderfully spontaneous, and knows how to entertain a worldwide audience,” said Dawn Hudson, Academy CEO. “She’s a big fan of the Oscars; we’re huge fans of hers. It’s a perfect match.”

“It is an honor to welcome back Ellen DeGeneres as the host of the biggest entertainment celebration of the year,” said Paul Lee, president, ABC Entertainment Group. “She is the consummate entertainer, equally beloved by her peers in the industry, movie fans and television viewers. We very much look forward to having her back on ABC for Oscar Sunday.”

DeGeneres hosted the 79th Academy Awards in 2007, for which she received a Primetime Emmy® nomination for “Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program.”

DeGeneres has made a home for herself in daytime with her hit syndicated talk show, “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” which has earned a total of 45 Daytime Emmys during its 10 seasons.

DeGeneres’ began her career as an emcee at a local comedy club in her hometown of New Orleans. Her acting career in television included roles in several successful sitcoms before being offered a part on “These Friends of Mine” by ABC. After the first season, the show was renamed “Ellen.” Running from 1994 to 1998, the show garnered record ratings, with DeGeneres receiving Emmy nominations each season in the Best Actress category. In 1997, DeGeneres was the recipient of the coveted Peabody Award as well as earning an Emmy for writing the critically acclaimed “Puppy Episode” when her character came out as a gay woman to a record 46 million viewers.

DeGeneres has also been successful in her feature film work. DeGeneres scored unprecedented popular and critical response to her character, Dory, the fish with extreme short-term memory, in the blockbuster Pixar animated feature “Finding Nemo.” DeGeneres recently announced the highly anticipated sequel to “Finding Nemo,” Disney-Pixar’s “Finding Dory,” currently scheduled to be released in November 2015.

Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2013 will be presented on Oscar® Sunday, March 2, 2014, at the Dolby Theatre® at Hollywood & Highland Center® and televised live on the ABC Television Network. The presentation also will be televised live in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide.

May 022013
 
Diane Sawyer

Diane Sawyer / Us Celebrity Blog

Diane Sawyer(Lila Diane Sawyer born December 22, 1945) is the current anchor of ABC News’ flagship program, ABC World News. Previously, Sawyer had been co-anchor of ABC News’s morning news program, Good Morning America (GMA).
Born in Glasgow, Kentucky, Diane Sawyer is the daughter of Jean W. Sawyer (née Dunagan) – an elementary school teacher – and Erbon Powers “Tom” Sawyer, a judge.Her ancestry includes English, Irish, Scots-Irish, and German. Soon after her birth, her family moved to Louisville, Kentucky, where her father rose to local prominence as a Republican politician and community leader; he was Kentucky’s Jefferson County Judge/Executive when he was killed in a car accident on Louisville’s Interstate 64 in 1969. E. P. “Tom” Sawyer State Park, located in the Frey’s Hill area of Louisville, is named in his honor.
Right after her graduation, Sawyer went back to Kentucky and got a job as weather forecaster for the WLKY-TV news in Louisville. In Sawyer’s opinion, the weather was boring, so she would add quotes every now and then to keep it interesting. Finally, Sawyer was promoted to general assignment, but this could not sustain her interest for long. In 1970, Sawyer moved to Washington D.C. and, unable to find work as a broadcast journalist, she made the rounds in government offices. She eventually found a job as an assistant to Jerry Warren, the White House deputy press secretary. She was at first assigned to write press releases and quickly graduated to more demanding tasks like drafting some of President Richard Nixon’s public statements. In a few months, she was hired as administrative assistant to White House Press Secretary, Ron Ziegler and eventually to staff assistant for U.S. President Richard Nixon. Sawyer continued through Nixon’s resignation from the presidency in 1974 and worked on the Nixon-Ford transition team in 1974–1975, after which she decamped with Nixon to California and helped him write his memoirs, published in 1978. She also helped prepare Nixon for his famous set of television interviews with journalist David Frost in 1977.

Years later, Sawyer would be suspected of being Deep Throat, the source of leaks of classified information to journalist Bob Woodward during the Watergate scandal. In 2005, Deep Throat was identified as W. Mark Felt, but prior to that, Rabbi Baruch Korff – a longtime Nixon confidant and defender known as “Nixon’s rabbi” – said on his deathbed that he believed Sawyer was Deep Throat. Sawyer laughed it off, and she was one of six people to request and receive a public denial from Woodward.

When Sawyer came back to Washington D.C. in 1978, she joined CBS News as a general assignment reporter. She was promoted to political correspondent in February 1980; Sawyer became a fixture on the weekday broadcasts of Morning With Charles Kuralt. When CBS decided to expand its morning news show from sixty minutes to ninety minutes in 1981, they were looking for a co-anchor as well. So on May 13, 1981, the president of CBS News announced that Sawyer would be the new co-anchor; when she debuted on September 28, 1981, she put her own stamp on the broadcast.[3] The ratings for the show were boosted upon Sawyer’s arrival, but the improvement did not last and after Kuralt left the show, he was replaced by Bill Kurtis. The ratings slid and Sawyer asked to be reassigned.

In 1984, she became the first female correspondent on 60 Minutes, a CBS News investigative television newsmagazine. During Sawyer’s five years with 60 Minutes, the program almost always ranked among the top five most-watched in the country.

In 1989, she moved to ABC News to co-anchor newsmagazine Primetime Live with Sam Donaldson. From 1998 to 2000, she co-anchored ABC’s 20/20, also a newsmagazine, co-anchoring on Wednesdays with Donaldson and on Sundays with Barbara Walters.

In 1999, Sawyer returned to morning news as the co-anchor of GMA with Charles Gibson. The assignment was putatively temporary, but her success in the position, measured by a close in the gap with front-runner Today, NBC News’s morning program, sustained her in the position far longer than anticipated. The GMA program has never regained the lost viewers, nor beaten its early morning competition since Joan Lunden retired after 17 years as co-host in 1997.

On September 2, 2009, Sawyer was announced as the successor to Gibson, who retired as ABC World News anchor on Friday, December 18, 2009. Sawyer left GMA on December 11, 2009, and was scheduled to become the ABC World News anchor in January 2010. However, on December 1, 2009, The New York Times reported that instead of moving to ABC World News in January 2010, Sawyer would start on December 21, 2009, three days after Gibson’s departure.For over a year in 2010–2011, with Katie Couric then anchor of CBS News, two of the three network news anchors on broadcast television were women. Ratings initially rose 8% after Sawyer’s first four weeks, averaging 8.8 million viewers. She signs off at the end of her nightly broadcast with “I’ll see you right back here tomorrow night.” The show, like its competitor evening newscasts, ended the year with ratings 14% below that of the preceding year. To this day in 2013, she is the anchor of ABC’s flagship broadcast World News and the network’s principal anchor for breaking news, election coverage, and special events.
In 2001 she was named one of the thirty most-powerful women in America by the Ladies’ Home Journal. In 2007 she ranked 62nd on “Forbes Magazine’s List of The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women”. She has won multiple awards, including a 2009 Peabody Award for her work on A Hidden America: Children of the Mountains.[14] She also won a Robert F. Kennedy award for journalism, 3 Emmy awards for broadcast journalism, and was inducted into the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame in 1994.
Sawyer has interviewed many political figures including U.S. Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. She conducted the first interview with U.S. President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton after his first election to the presidency in 1992.

On February 12, 2007, she interviewed Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
On November 14, 2011, Diane secured another exclusive by being the first person to interview Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, ten months after she survived an assassination attempt. Sawyer spent the day with the wounded politician and her husband Mark Kelly, and observed Giffords during a speech therapy session. Diane since told People Magazine, “Of all the people I’ve interviewed, she’s right there at the top.”

She has also interviewed:

Fidel Castro, President of Cuba
Robert McNamara, U.S. Secretary of Defense
Manuel Noriega, general and the military dictator of Panama from 1983 to    1989
Nancy Pelosi, the first female Speaker of the United States House of Representatives

Richard Nixon, President of the United States
Nancy Reagan, First Lady of the United States
Hyman G. Rickover, U.S. Admiral
Antonin Scalia, U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice
Jaycee Lee Dugard

In 2006 she spent a week in North Korea and opened Good Morning America with a live shot from Pyongyang.

From the entertainment world, Sawyer has interviewed, especially as a host of GMA:

Clay Aiken, singer (interviewed twice)
Bobby Brown, singer
Ellen DeGeneres, comedian
Diana Ross, singer (interviewed twice)
Dixie Chicks, country-music group
Michael J. Fox, actor
Mel Gibson, actor (interviewed twice)
Whitney Houston, singer
Winona Ryder, actress

Michael Jackson, singer
Roman Polanski, film director
Lisa Marie Presley, singer-songwriter
Rihanna, singer
Britney Spears, singer
Brian Wilson, musician (The Beach Boys)
Meryl Streep, actress

Sawyer also interviewed drug kingpin Rayful Edmond III of Washington, D.C., in 1989 and once again in 1997 on 60 Minutes.

On April 29, 1988, she and Mike Nichols, a film director, were married. They have no children. Nichols has 3 from previous marriages: Daisy, born in 1964; Max, born in 1974; and Jenny, born in 1977. Sawyer had previously had relationships with Frank Gannon, a Nixon aide, and Richard Holbrooke, a U.S diplomat.

Apr 292013
 
The Oprah Winfrey Show

The Oprah Winfrey Show / Anything L.A.

The Oprah Winfrey Show, often referred to simply as Oprah, is an American syndicated talk show that aired nationally for 25 seasons from 1986 to 2011. Produced and hosted by its namesake, Oprah Winfrey, it remains the highest-rated talk show in American television history.

The show was highly influential, and many of its topics penetrated into the American pop-cultural consciousness. Winfrey used the show as a platform to teach and inspire, providing viewers with a positive, spiritually uplifting experience by featuring book clubs, compelling interviews, self-improvement segments, and philanthropic forays into world events. The show gained credibility by not trying to profit off the products it endorsed; it had no licensing agreement with retailers when products were promoted, nor did the show make any money from endorsing books for its book club.
Oprah is one of the longest-running daytime television talk shows in history. The show received 47 Daytime Emmy Awards before Winfrey decided to stop submitting it for consideration in 2000.

The show has its roots in A.M. Chicago, a half-hour morning talk show airing on WLS-TV in Chicago, Illinois. Winfrey took over as host on January 2, 1984 and, within a month, took it from last place to first place in the ratings. On September 8, 1986, it was relaunched under its current title and picked up nationally. For the premiere, the show’s producers tried rigorously to book Miami Vice’s Don Johnson as the first guest, even trying to bribe him with Dom Pérignon and a pair of rhinestone sunglasses. All attempts to book Johnson failed and Winfrey decided to “do what we do best, and that is a show about and with everyday people.” The topic for the premiere show was “How to Marry the Man or Woman of Your Choice.”

Early in the 12th season of The Oprah Winfrey Show, Winfrey confessed she was “exhausted” and considered quitting. While making the movie Beloved, Winfrey then admitted that it brought her back to her responsibility as an admired black woman with a great deal of power and influence. She realized that being in such a position within the media industry, she could make a positive difference in people’s lives. Winfrey was once again inspired to continue to help people take better control of their destinies, hence her slogan, “Live Your Best Life”.

I made the decision…in the midst of doing Beloved. I was doing some scenes—Beloved is about an ex-slave, and during that process of doing that I connected to really what slavery had meant, and my own personal ancestry and history connected it to a way I have never before from reading all about Black history and, you know, talking to relatives. And I realized that I had no right to quit coming from a history of people who had no voice, who had no power, and that I have been given this—this blessed opportunity to speak to people, to influence them in ways that can make a difference in their lives, and to just use that.

The show was renewed through 2011, but in a 2008 interview with Larry King, Winfrey announced that in 2011, she would not renew her contract, thus ending the show.

Apr 272013
 
Johnny Depp

Johnny Depp / Anything L.A.

Johnny Depp(John Christopher “Johnny” Depp II born June 9, 1963) is an American actor, film producer, and musician. He has won the Golden Globe Award and Screen Actors Guild award for Best Actor. Depp rose to prominence on the 1980s television series 21 Jump Street, becoming a teen idol. Dissatisfied with that status, Depp turned to film for more challenging roles; he played the title character of the acclaimed Edward Scissorhands (1990) and later found box office success in films such as Sleepy Hollow (1999), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), Alice in Wonderland (2010), Rango (2011) and the Pirates of the Caribbean film series (2003–present). He has collaborated with director and friend Tim Burton in eight films; the most recent being Dark Shadows (2012).

Depp has gained acclaim for his portrayals of such people as Ed Wood in Ed Wood, Joseph D. Pistone in Donnie Brasco, Hunter S. Thompson in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, George Jung in Blow, and the bank robber John Dillinger in Michael Mann’s Public Enemies. Films featuring Depp have grossed over $3.1 billion at the United States box office and over $7.6 billion worldwide. He has been nominated for top awards many times, winning the Best Actor Awards from the Golden Globes for Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street and from the Screen Actors Guild for Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. He also has garnered a sex symbol status in American cinema, being twice named as the “Sexiest Man Alive” by People magazine in 2003 and 2009. He has been listed in the 2012 Guinness Book of World Records as the highest paid actor, with $75 million.

Apr 212013
 
Barbara Stanwyck

Barbara Stanwyck / Anything L.A.

Barbara Stanwyck was born Ruby Catherine Stevens in Brooklyn, New York on July 16, 1907. She was the fifth and youngest child of Catherine Ann (née McPhee) and Byron E. Stevens. The couple were working-class, her father a native of Massachusetts and her mother an immigrant from Nova Scotia, Canada. Ruby was of English and Scottish ancestry, by her father and mother, respectively. When she was four, her mother was killed when a drunken stranger pushed her off a moving streetcar. Two weeks after the funeral, Byron Stevens joined a work crew digging the Panama canal and was never seen again. Ruby and her brother, Byron. were raised by their older sister Mildred, who was only five years older than Ruby. When Mildred got a job as a John Cort showgirl, Ruby and Byron were placed in a series of foster homes (as many as four different homes in a year), from which Ruby often ran away.

“I knew that after fourteen I’d have to earn my own living, but I was willing to do that … I’ve always been a little sorry for pampered people, and of course, they’re ‘very’ sorry for me.”
Barbara Stanwyck, 1937

During the summers of 1916 and 1917, Ruby toured with Mildred, and practiced her sister’s routines backstage. Watching the movies of Pearl White, whom Ruby idolized, also influenced her drive to be a performer. At age 14, she dropped out of school to take a job wrapping packages at a department store in Brooklyn. Ruby never attended high school, “although early biographical thumbnail sketches had her attend Brooklyn’s famous Erasmus Hall High School.” Soon after, she took a job filing cards at the Brooklyn telephone office for a salary of $14 a week, a salary that allowed her to become financially independent. She disliked both jobs; her real interest was to enter show business even as her sister Mildred discouraged the idea. She next took a job cutting dress patterns for Vogue, but because customers complained about her work, she was fired. Her next job was as a typist for the Jerome H. Remick Music Company, a job she reportedly enjoyed. But her continuing ambition was to work in show business and her sister finally gave up trying to dissuade her.
In 1923, a few months before her 16th birthday, Ruby auditioned for a place in the chorus at the Strand Roof, a night club over the Strand Theatre in Times Square. A few months later, she obtained a job as a dancer in the 1922 and 1923 seasons of the Ziegfeld Follies, dancing at the New Amsterdam Theater. “I just wanted to survive and eat and have a nice coat,” Stanwyck said. For the next several years, she worked as a chorus girl, performing from midnight to seven a.m. at nightclubs owned by Texas Guinan. She also occasionally served as a dance instructor at a speakeasy for gays and lesbians owned by Guinan. One of her good friends during those years was pianist Oscar Levant, who described her as being “wary of sophisticates and phonies.”

In 1926, Ruby was introduced to Willard Mack by Billy LaHiff who owned a popular pub frequented by showpeople. Mack was casting his play The Noose and LaHiff suggested that the part of the chorus girl be played by a real chorus girl. Mack agreed and gave the part to Ruby after a successful audition. She co-starred with actors Rex Cherryman and Wilfred Lucas. The play was not a success. In an effort to improve it, Mack decided to expand Ruby’s part to include more pathos. The Noose re-opened on October 20, 1926 and became one of the most successful plays of the season, running on Broadway for nine months and 197 performances. At the suggestion of either Mack or David Belasco, Ruby changed her name to Barbara Stanwyck by combining the first name of her character, Barbara Frietchie, with Stanwyck, after the name of another actress in the play, Jane Stanwyck.

Stanwyck became a Broadway star soon after when she was cast in her first leading role in Burlesque (1927). She got rave reviews and it was a huge hit. Film actor Pat O’Brien would later say on a talk show in the 1960s, “the greatest Broadway show I ever saw was a play in the 1920s called ‘Burlesque’.” In Arthur Hopkins‘ autobiography To a Lonely Boy, he describes how he came about casting her: “After some search for the girl, I interviewed a night-club dancer who had just scored in a small emotional part in a play that did not run (The Noose). She seemed to have the quality I wanted, a sort of rough poignancy. She at once displayed more sensitive, easily expressed emotion than I had encountered since Pauline Lord. She and (Hal) Skelly were the perfect team, and they made the play a great success. I had great plans for her, but the Hollywood offers kept coming. There was no competing with them. She became a picture star. She is Barbara Stanwyck.” He also describes Stanwyck as “the greatest natural actress of our time,” noting with sadness that “one of the theater’s great potential actresses was embalmed in celluloid.”

Around this time, Stanwyck was summoned by film producer Bob Kane to make a screen test for his upcoming 1927 silent film Broadway Nights. She lost the lead role because she could not cry in the screen test but got a minor part as a fan dancer. This was Stanwyck’s first film appearance.

While playing in Burlesque, Stanwyck had been introduced to her future husband, actor Frank Fay, by Oscar Levant. Stanwyck and Fay were married on August 26, 1928, and they soon moved to Hollywood.

Stanwyck’s retirement years were active, with charity work outside the limelight. She was robbed and assaulted inside her Beverly Hills home in 1981. The following year, while filming The Thorn Birds, the inhalation of special-effects smoke on the set may have caused her to contract bronchitis. The illness was compounded by her cigarette habit; she had been a smoker from age nine until four years before her death.

Stanwyck died on January 20, 1990 of congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease at age 82 at Saint John’s Health Center. She had indicated that she wished no funeral service. In accordance with her wishes, her remains were cremated and the ashes scattered from a helicopter over Lone Pine, California, where she had made some of her western films.

Apr 192013
 
Jennifer Joanna Aniston

Jennifer  Aniston / Anything L.A.

Jennifer  Aniston In 2007, Forbes rated Aniston as one of the top 10 richest women in entertainment and estimated her net worth to be about $110 million. Aniston was also included in the annual Star Salary Top 10 of trade magazine The Hollywood Reporter for 2006. According to Forbes, in October 2007, Aniston was the top-selling celebrity face of the entertainment industry. She was also Hollywood’s most profitable actress. Aniston has been on the Forbes Celebrity 100 list, based on “earnings and fame”, every year since 2001, topping the list in 2003. For the year of 2008, Forbes listed Aniston’s earnings as $27 million.

In 2005, Aniston became the first-ever GQ Woman of the Year. She has appeared on People’s annual list of The Most Beautiful every year since 1995, and came in at #1 in 2004. She also topped the magazine’s Best Dressed List in 2006. She has been a regular on FHMs 100 Sexiest Women list since 1996, ranking at #79 in 2012, #81 in 2010, #24 in 2009 and #27 in 2008. In 2011 The Telegraph reported the most sought after body parts of the rich and famous revealed by two Hollywood plastic surgeons who carried out a survey among their patients to build up the picture of what the perfect woman would look like. Under the category of the most sought after body shape Aniston was voted in the top three alongside Gisele Bündchen and Penélope Cruz.] In the same year, readers of Men’s Health magazine voted Aniston the “Sexiest Woman of All Time”.
Although Aniston disliked the hairstyle she wore during her first two years on Friends, “The Rachel” became and remains very popular among women.

Mar 182013
 
 Kirk Douglas

Kirk Douglas / US Celebrity Blog

Douglas established his image as a tough guy in his eighth film, Champion, playing a selfish boxer. From then on, he made a career of playing “sons of bitches”. From that film on, he decided that to succeed as a star, he needed to ramp up his intensity, overcome his natural shyness, and choose stronger roles. He later stated, “I don’t think I’d be much of an actor without vanity. And I’m not interested in being a ‘modest actor’.” Early in his Hollywood career, he demonstrated his independent streak and broke his studio contracts to gain total control over his projects, forming his own movie company, Bryna Productions, named after his mother.

Douglas made his Broadway debut in 1949 in the Anton Chekhov play Three Sisters, produced by Katharine Cornell.

Douglas was a major box office star in the 1950s and 1960s, playing opposite some of the leading actresses of that era. Among his various roles, he played a frontier peace officer in his first western Along the Great Divide (1951). He quickly became comfortable with riding horses and playing gunslingers, and appeared in many westerns. In Lonely Are the Brave (1962), his own favorite of his performances, Douglas plays a cowboy trying to live by his own code, much as he did in real life.
in Cast a Giant Shadow (1966)

In The Bad and the Beautiful (1952), one of his three Oscar nominated roles, Douglas plays Jonathan Shields, a hard-nosed film producer who manipulates and uses his actors, writers, and directors. In Young Man with a Horn (1950), Douglas portrays the rise and fall of a driven jazz musician, based on real life horn player Bix Beiderbecke. Composer-pianist Hoagy Carmichael, playing the sidekick role, added realism to the film and gave Douglas insight into the role, being a friend of the real Beiderbecke.

In one of his earliest television appearances, Douglas was a musical guest (as himself) on The Jack Benny Program (1954). In the opening monologue, Benny reads the reviews of critics who liked his season premiere, while skipping the ones who did not. He then hurries home for his weekly jam session with Tony Martin (on clarinet), Fred MacMurray (saxophone), Dick Powell (trumpet), Dan Dailey (drums), and Douglas (four-string banjo). They avail themselves of the coin-operated vending machines in Benny’s living room. The band plays Basin Street (Blues), but Douglas keeps going into Bye Bye Blues, the only song he knows.
In Lust for Life as Vincent Van Gogh

Douglas played many military men, with varying nuance, in Top Secret Affair (1957), Paths of Glory (1957) (his most famous role in that genre), Town Without Pity (1961), The Hook (1963), Seven Days in May (1964), Heroes of Telemark (1965), In Harm’s Way (1965), Cast a Giant Shadow (1966), Is Paris Burning (1966), and The Final Countdown (1980).

His role as Vincent Van Gogh in Lust for Life (1956), filmed mostly on location in France, was noted not only for the veracity of his appearance but also for how he conveyed the painter’s internal turmoil. He won a Golden Globe award for his role. Director Vincente Minnelli stated, “Kirk Douglas achieved a moving and memorable portrait of the artist a man of massive creative power, triggered by severe emotional stress, the fear and horror of madness. In my opinion, Kirk should have won the Academy Award.” Douglas himself called his acting role as Van Gogh a “very painful experience.” He writes, “Not only did I look like Van Gogh, I was the same age he was when he committed suicide.”

Douglas played the lead with an all-star cast in Spartacus (1960). He was the executive producer as well, raising the $12 million production cost. He also played an important role in breaking the Hollywood blacklist by making sure that Dalton Trumbo’s name was mentioned in the opening and ending credits of the film for the outstanding screenplay he did for the film. Douglas initially selected Anthony Mann to direct the movie, but dismissed him when he judged the initial shooting to be unsatisfactory. To replace Mann he chose Stanley Kubrick, who three years earlier had collaborated closely with Douglas in Paths of Glory, where Douglas played one of his most notable roles as Colonel Dax, the commander of a French regiment during World War I. Spartacus was a huge success, but Kubrick, considering himself a mere employee of Douglas and since much of the footage (including Peter Ustinov’s key scenes) was shot under Mann, did not consider it to be part of his own oeuvre.

In addition to serious, driven characters, Douglas was adept at roles requiring a comic touch, as in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954), an adaptation of the Jules Verne novel, wherein he plays a happy-go-lucky sailor who is the opposite in every way of the brooding Captain Nemo (James Mason). The film was one of Walt Disney’s most successful live-action movies and a major box-office hit. He manages a similar comic turn in the western Man Without a Star (1955) and in For Love or Money (1963).

Douglas made seven films over the decades with Burt Lancaster; I Walk Alone (1948), Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957), The Devil’s Disciple (1959), The List of Adrian Messenger (1963), Seven Days in May (1964), Victory at Entebbe (1976) and Tough Guys (1986), which fixed the notion of the pair as something of a team in the public imagination. Douglas was always second-billed under Lancaster in these movies but, with the exception of I Walk Alone, in which Douglas played a villain, their roles were more or less the same size. Both actors arrived in Hollywood at the same time, and first appeared together in the fourth film for each, albeit with Douglas in a supporting role. They both became actor-producers who sought out independent Hollywood careers.
President Jimmy Carter greets Kirk Douglas and Mrs. Douglas, March 1978

Douglas stated that the keys to acting success are determination and application, “You must know how to function and how to maintain yourself, and you must have a love of what you do. But an actor also needs great good luck. I have had that luck.” Douglas had great vitality, “It takes a lot out of you to work in this business. Many people fall by the wayside because they don’t have the energy to sustain their talent.” His intensity spilled over into all elements of his film-making. As an actor, he dove into every role, dissecting not only his own lines but all the parts in the script to measure the rightness of the role, and he was willing to fight with the director if he felt justified. According to his wife, he often brought home that intensity, “When he was doing Lust for Life, he came home in that red beard of Van Gogh’s, wearing those big boots, stomping around the house it was frightening.” His distinctive acting style and delivery made him, like James Stewart, a favorite with impersonators, especially Frank Gorshin.

Unlike some actors such as Robert Mitchum, Douglas had a high opinion of actors, movies, and moviemaking, “To me it is the most important art form—it is an art, and it includes all the elements of the modern age.” But he also stressed the entertainment value of films, “You can make a statement, you can say something, but it must be entertaining.”

His first film as a director was Scalawag (1973). In his autobiography The Ragman’s Son, he said “Since I was accused so often of trying to direct the films I was in, I thought I ought to really try my hand at directing.” It was a difficult debut with many production problems, requiring his wife to act as producer. Douglas plays a charming scoundrel with one leg, a considerable challenge to his athleticism, and though he got credit for his role, the film received unimpressive reviews. Later in 1973, Douglas appeared in a made-for-TV musical version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
The Douglases with President Ronald Reagan, December 1987

On July 5, 1986, he co-hosted (with Angela Lansbury) the New York Philharmonic’s tribute to the 100th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty, which was televised live on ABC Television. The orchestra was conducted by Zubin Mehta.

Douglas was nominated three times for the Academy Award for Best Actor for his work in Champion, The Bad and the Beautiful and Lust for Life. He was especially disappointed for not winning for the last film, “I really thought I had a chance.” Douglas did not win any competitive Oscars, but received a Honorary Academy Award in 1996 for “50 years as a moral and creative force in the motion picture community”.
Douglas with Zubin Mehta, March 2011

For his contributions to the motion picture industry, Douglas has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6263 Hollywood Blvd. He is one of the few personalities (along with James Stewart, Gregory Peck, and Gene Autry) whose star has been stolen and later replaced. In 1984, he was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA, and he received the AFI Life Achievement Award in 1991.

In October 2004, the avenue Kirk Douglas Way in Palm Springs, California was named in his honor by the Palm Springs International Film Society and Film Festival. Popular at home and around the world, Douglas received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1981, the French Legion of Honor in 1985, and the National Medal of the Arts in 2001.

In March 2009, Douglas starred in an autobiographical one man show titled Before I Forget at the Center Theatre Group’s Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City, California. The four performances were filmed and turned into a documentary that was first screened in January 2010.

On February 27, 2011, Douglas appeared on the stage of the Kodak Theatre for the 83rd Academy Awards to present the Best Supporting Actress Oscar.