- Michael Kirk Douglas
September 25, 1944 (age 76)
- Actor, Film Producer, Voice Actor
- Diandra Luker
- Kirk Douglas, Diana Dill
Michael Kirk Douglas (born September 25, 1944) is an American actor and producer, primarily in movies and television. He has won four Golden Globes, including Cecil B. DeMille Award, and two Academy Awards; as producer of 1975's Best Picture, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, and as Best Actor in 1987 for his role in Wall Street. Other performances include The Game, Wonder Boys, Traffic and Falling Down. Douglas received the AFI Life Achievement Award in 2009. He is the eldest of actor Kirk Douglas's four sons.
Early life and education
Douglas was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey, the first child of actor Kirk Douglas and Bermudian-born actress Diana Love Dill. His parents met at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. His paternal grandparents were Jewish immigrants from Gomel in Belarus (at that time a part of the Russian Empire). His mother was from Devonshire Parish, Bermuda, and has English, Scottish, and Dutch ancestry. Douglas's maternal grandfather, Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Melville Dill, served as Attorney General of Bermuda, as a Member of the Parliament of Bermuda (MCP), and as commanding officer of the Bermuda Militia Artillery. Douglas has a younger brother, Joel Douglas (born 1947), and two paternal half-brothers, Peter Douglas (born 1955) and Eric Douglas (1958–2004), from stepmother Anne Buydens.
Douglas attended The Allen-Stevenson School in New York City, Eaglebrook School in Deerfield, Massachusetts, and The Choate Preparatory School (now Choate Rosemary Hall) in Wallingford, Connecticut. He received his B.A. in drama from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1968, where he was also the Honorary President of the UCSB Alumni Association. He studied acting with Wynn Handman at The American Place Theatre in New York City.
His first TV breakthrough role came with a 1969 CBS-TV "Playhouse" special, "The Experiment"— and it was the only time he was billed as "M.K. Douglas." Michael Douglas started his film career in the late 1960s and early 1970s, appearing in little known films like Hail, Hero! and Summertree. His first significant role came in the TV series The Streets of San Francisco from 1972 to 1976, where he starred alongside Karl Malden. Douglas later said that Malden became a "mentor" and someone he "admired and loved deeply". After Douglas left the show, he had a long association with his mentor until Malden's death on July 1, 2009. In 2004, Douglas presented Malden with the Monte Cristo Award of the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, Connecticut, for the Lifetime Achievement Award.
In 1975, Douglas received from his father, Kirk Douglas, the rights to the novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Michael went on to produce the film of the same name with Saul Zaentz. Kirk Douglas considered playing the starring role himself, having starred in an earlier stage version, but decided against it. The lead role went instead to Jack Nicholson, who won the Academy Award for Best Actor. Douglas won the Award for Best Picturefor producing the film.
Douglas's acting career was propelled to fame when he produced and starred in the 1984 romantic adventure comedy Romancing the Stone. It also helped launch Kathleen Turner to stardom, reintroduced Douglas as a capable leading man, and gave director Robert Zemeckis his first box-office success. The film also starred Danny DeVito, a personal friend of Douglas's since they had shared an apartment in the 1960s. It was followed a year later by a sequel, The Jewel of the Nile, which he also produced.
Having become recognized as both a successful producer and actor, he describes himself as "an actor first and a producer second." He has explained why he enjoys both functions:
"I love the fact that on one side, with acting, you can be a child — acting is wonderful for its innocence and the fun. . . On the other side, producing is fun for all the adult kinds of things you do. You deal in business, you deal with the creative forces. As an adult who continues to get older, you like the adult risks. It's flying without a net, taking chances and learning. I was never good in economics or business — had no business background, you know, and I like it."
He has also offered reasons why he has become successful in both acting and producing:
"I think I'm a chameleon. I think it's something that I possibly inherited early on as a child going back and forth between two families. I know that whether it's right or wrong, I have an ability to sort of fit into a lot of different situations and make people feel relatively comfortable in a wide range without giving up all my moral values. I think that same chameleon like quality can transfer into films. I think if you can remember the reason you got involved with it in the first place and try to keep that impulsive, instinctive feeling even when you're being beaten down or exhausted or waylaid, you'll be successful."
After the filming of Summertree in 1971, Douglas began dating actress Brenda Vaccaro, a relationship that lasted nearly six years.
In March 1977, 32 year old Douglas married 19 year old Diandra Luker, the daughter of an Austrian diplomat. They had one son, Cameron, born in 1978. In 1995, Diandra filed for divorce and was awarded $45 million as her settlement.
Dating since March 1999, Douglas married Welsh actress Catherine Zeta-Jones on November 18, 2000. They were both born on September 25, though 25 years apart. Zeta-Jones says that when they met in Deauville, France, Douglas used the line "I want to father your children." They have two children, Dylan Michael (born August 8, 2000) and Carys Zeta (born April 20, 2003). In August 2013, People claimed that Douglas and Zeta-Jones began living separately in May 2013, but have not taken any legal action towards separation or divorce. A representative for Zeta-Jones subsequently confirmed that they "are taking some time apart to evaluate and work on their marriage." It was reported on November 1 that the couple have reconciled and Catherine has moved back into their New York apartment.