Kirk Douglas received plenty of award nominations in his lifetime, but he never won an Oscar for a specific film role. Douglas’s exceptional talent and versatility were evident, earning him three nominations for Best Actor in a Leading Role. He portrayed Vincent van Gogh in the 1956 film “Lust for Life,” Jonathan Shields in “The Bad and the Beautiful” in 1953, and was nominated for his portrayal of “Midge” Kelly in the 1950 film “Champion.”
Still, the coveted award always eluded him, with someone else taking the trophy home each time. Finally, in 1996, his remarkable career spanning over 50 years was recognized with an honorary Oscar. Oscar or not, his reputation as a Hollywood icon and legend is indisputable.
He Receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom
One of the most defining moments of his career was in 1981 when Kirk Douglas received the Presidential Medal of Freedom - the highest civilian honor that can be bestowed upon an American, recognizing their exceptional contributions. The Presidential Medal of Freedom is a testament to the excellence and dedication of individuals and their significant impact on society.
The award ceremony took place on January 17, 1981, at the White House in Washington, D.C. President Jimmy Carter praised Douglas for his extraordinary achievements, recognizing his legacy as a prominent figure in American culture. Douglas said receiving the accolade was an unforgettable moment – one of the proudest he had ever felt as an actor.
He Stars in an Australian Classic
Kirk Douglas was unforgettable in the acclaimed Australian film, “The Man from Snowy River” (1982). In the film, he played not one but two characters - the tetchy farm owner Harrison and his wise and charming peg-legged brother, Spur. Harrison is an obstinate father who opposes the blossoming romance between his daughter and the film's protagonist, played by Tom Burlinson.
On the other hand, Spur is a sage character who hovers on the peripheries of the story, offering words of wisdom and charming women with his wit. His dual performance was delightful, with critics putting his acting on par with Lee Marvin's memorable portrayal in "Cat Ballou" (1965).
Crazy Fan Moments
Kirk Douglas had an enduring impact on the entertainment industry, with legions of fans determined to do anything to feel connected to him. In 2000, Douglas found himself in an unexpected situation - one only three other Hollywood legends - James Stewart, Gene Autry, and Gregory Peck – had experienced. Someone stole their stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame!
The brazen theft created a stir - leaving fans wondering what had happened to the plaques. Reports finally emerged that a construction worker entrusted with securing the stars had stolen them instead. All's well that ends well - the stars are back in their rightful place on the Walk of Fame, much to the relief of fans and admirers of these iconic actors.
The Douglas Family Unite for a Film
In 2003, Michael and Joel Douglas produced “It Runs in the Family,” a film starring several members of the Douglas family, including Kirk, Michael, Michael's son Cameron, and his ex-wife Diana Dill, who played his wife. The movie received mixed reviews and, coming from the Douglas family, didn't keep up to expectations.
Kirk Douglas' last screen role was in the TV movie “Empire State Building Murders" (2008). In March 2009, at the impressive age of 92, Kirk performed an autobiographical one-man show titled “Before I Forget” at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City, California. The four performances later became a documentary that screened in January 2010.