Kirk Douglas is laid to rest at private funeral in Los Angeles


Actor Kirk Douglas has been laid to rest in a private funeral service attended by his closest friends and family.

The funeral was held at Westwood Memorial in Los Angeles on Friday, two days after Kirk Douglas died at his home at the age of 103.

Kirk is survived by his second wife Anne Buydens and three of his four sons: Michael, Joel, and Peter. His fourth son Eric died tragically of an overdose in 2004.

Outside the cemetery, the grieving family arrived to pay their respects, along with select guests including director Steven Spielberg. 

Rabbi David Wolpe, who studied Jewish religious texts with Kirk on a weekly basis for some 25 years, was tapped to perform the funeral service.

‘In his final days he was at home, surrounded by his family, in a house full of flowers, holding hands with his bride of over 60 years,’ Wolpe wrote in a New York Times essay. 

‘I had the privilege of reciting the Hebrew vidui, the final confessional, at his bedside.’

Michael, 75, responded to his father’s death by posting a series of pictures of the two of them together, including a family portrait with all Kirk’s sons. He called his father ‘a legend’, ‘a humanitarian’ and ‘a wonderful husband’.   

‘It is with tremendous sadness that my brothers and I announce that Kirk Douglas left us today at the age of 103,’ Michael wrote.  

‘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,’ Douglas added, ‘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.’

Kirk’s widow Anne Buydens, his second wife whom he married in 1954, arrived at the funeral in a wheelchair. Kirk had two sons with Anne, Eric and Peter Douglas. 

Their youngest son Eric tragically died of an accidental drug overdose in 2004 aged 46. 

Michael Douglas and his brother Joel were the sons of Kirk and his first wife Diana Douglas, whose died in 2015 aged 92.  

German-born Anne, 100, met Kirk in Paris when she was the publicity girl on his 1953 film ‘Act Of Love’. 

Anne initially turned down the job as Kirk had built up a reputation as a Lothario but eventually agreed to work with him as long as it was strictly business.

At the time, Kirk was engaged to actress Pier Angeli but says he ‘fell out of love with her’. 

He married Anne in Las Vegas on May 29, 1954. They had two sons together, Peter, on November 23, 1955, and Eric on June 21, 1958, but had admitted to extramarital affairs in their 65 years as a married couple. 

Anne knew about the affairs and wrote: ‘One of the things I love most about Kirk is his inability to keep secrets… Let me explain my attitude concerning this. As a European, I understood it was unrealistic to expect total fidelity in a marriage.’ 

Douglas suffered a stroke back in 1996 that left him with slurred speech and damaged facial nerves but it didn’t stop him attending the Academy Awards ceremony two weeks later to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award.

He had been in relatively good health since his stroke.

Michael’s wife, Catherine Zeta-Jones, 50, was among those leading the tributes in the wake of her father-in-law’s death, writing alongside a photo of the pair: ‘To my darling Kirk, I shall love you for the rest of my life. I miss you already. Sleep tight…’

A host of other Hollywood stars joined in the outpouring of grief, with celebrities and fans alike flooded social media to honor the legendary screen star after news of his death broke.  

Sylvester Stallone, who shared a poster from Douglas’s 1949 boxing film Champion, wrote on Instagram: ‘KIRK DOUGLAS!!! 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!’

Steven Spielberg presented Douglas with an honorary Oscar at the Academy Awards in 1996 and was also one of those who gave remarks at the star’s 100th birthday party in December 2016.

‘Kirk retained his movie star charisma right to the end of his wonderful life and I’m honored to have been a small part of his last 45 years,’ Spielberg said. ‘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.’  

Douglas was the son of Jewish Russian immigrants who rose through the ranks to become one of Hollywood’s biggest-ever stars.

The famed actor and producer, who was one of the last of Hollywood’s Golden Age, made more than 90 movies in a career that stretched across seven decades.

He was renowned for the macho tough guy roles he took on.

Films such as Spartacus and The Vikings made him one of the biggest box-office stars of the 1950s and 60s.

Douglas received critical acclaim for his role in the 1960 classic Spartacus where he played the gladiator leader of a Roman slave revolt. 

He was nominated three times for the best actor Oscar in 1949 for Champion, The Bad and the Beautiful in 1953 and Lust for Life in 1957.

Douglas never received an Academy Award for an individual film but the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awarded him an honorary Oscar in 1996 for his role as a creative and moral force in the movie industry.  


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