Kirk Douglas celebrated his 99th birthday on Wednesday at his home in Beverly Hills with wife Anne and sons Michael, Peter, Joel and daughter-in-law Catherine Zeta-Jones.
Michael Douglas gave a speech about his dad, Kirk, remembering how many people want to talk to him about Kirk’s essays, his books and their favorite films. To which Kirk responded, “My son Michael is here, which just proves if you have enough money, you can have Michael Douglas speak at any event.”
Longtime friend of Kirk Douglas, Don Rickles also attended the event. When he arrived Don made his way straight to Kirk and said, “I’m not staying,” a gesture that got a big laugh from Douglas. The producer of Laugh-In, George Schlatter, was also present, and was already making plans with Anne for what they can do for Kirk’s 100th birthday.
A Big Gift
Earlier in the day the legendary star got his birthday wish, making a large donation, to the community he has been a part of for so long.
With his initial donation of $15 million, the Motion Picture & Television Fund in Woodland Hills announced plans to build a two-story $35 million Alzheimer’s facility to be named the Kirk Douglas Care Pavilion, which will be able to take care of upwards of 80 industry members with that disease. The project is expected to begin in late 2016 with estimated completion in the early 2018.
Kirk Douglas – Life and Career
Kirk Douglas (born Issur Danielovitch; December 9, 1916) is an American actor, producer, director, and author. After an impoverished childhood with immigrant parents and six sisters, he had his film debut in The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946) with Barbara Stanwyck. Douglas soon developed into a leading box-office star throughout the 1950s and 1960s, known for serious dramas, including westerns and war movies. During a sixty-year acting career, he has appeared in over 90 movies, and in 1960 was responsible for helping to end the Hollywood blacklist.
In 1949, after a lead role as an unscrupulous boxing hero in Champion, for which he was nominated as Best Actor, Douglas became a star. His style of acting relied on expressing great concentration, realism, and powerful emotions, and he subsequently gravitated toward roles requiring strong characters. Among his early films were Young Man with a Horn, playing opposite Lauren Bacall (1950), Billy Wilder’s controversial Ace in the Hole (1951), and Detective Story (1951). He received a second Oscar nomination for his dramatic role in The Bad and the Beautiful (1952), where he played opposite Lana Turner. And his powerful acting as Vincent van Gogh in Lust for Life (1956) is considered one of his finest roles. He, along with Olivia de Havilland, are of the last living actors from the Golden Age of Hollywood.
In 1955, he established Bryna Productions, which began producing films as varied as Paths of Glory (1957) and Spartacus (1960). In those two films, he starred and collaborated with then relatively unknown director, Stanley Kubrick. He produced and starred in Lonely Are the Brave (1962), considered a cult classic, and Seven Days in May (1964), opposite Burt Lancaster, with whom he made seven films. In 1963, he starred in the Broadway play One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, a story he purchased, which he later gave to his son Michael Douglas, who turned it into an Oscar-winning film.
As an actor and philanthropist, Douglas has received three Academy Award nominations, an Oscar for Lifetime Achievement, and the Medal of Freedom. As an author, he has written ten novels and memoirs. Currently, he is No. 17 on the American Film Institute’s list of the greatest male screen legends of classic Hollywood cinema, and the highest-ranked living person on the list. After barely surviving a helicopter crash in 1991 and then suffering a stroke in 1996, he has focused on renewing his spiritual and religious life. He lives with producer Anne Buydens, his wife of over 60 years.
Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital
The Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital is a retirement community, with individual cottages, and a fully licensed, acute-care hospital, located at 23388 Mulholland Drive in the Woodland Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles, California. It is a service of the Motion Picture & Television Fund, providing services for members of the motion picture and television industry.
In 1940, then president of the Motion Picture Relief Fund, Jean Hersholt, found 48 acres (19 ha) of walnut and orange groves in the southwest end of the San Fernando Valley that was selling for US$850 an acre ($0.21/m²) ($40,800). The Board purchased the property for the Motion Picture Country House. To offset the costs for the first buildings, which were designed by architect William Pereira, 7 acres (2.8 ha) were sold. Mary Pickford and Jean Hersholt broke the first ground. The dedication was on September 27, 1942.
The Motion Picture Hospital was dedicated on the grounds of the Country House in 1948. In attendance were Ronald Reagan, Shirley Temple, and Robert Young, among other stars. Services were later extended to those working in the television industry as well, and the name was altered to reflect the change.
Scores of movie notables spent their last years here; so have far less famous people from behind the scenes of the industry. Those with money paid their own way, while others, who had no money, paid nothing. Fees are based solely on the “ability to pay.”
Individuals in movies, TV, and other aspects of the industry, are accepted, from actors, artists, backlot men, cameramen, directors, extras, producers, security guards and stars. To qualify for a cottage, applicants (or their spouses) must have reached a minimum age of seventy, working steadily for at least twenty years in entertainment industry production. The waiting time is usually a few months, with no preference given to celebrities or those who can pay their own way, officials of the fund have said.
The facility has an annual budget of $120 million.
In 1993, the Motion Picture & Television Fund Foundation was established with Jeffrey Katzenberg as Founding Chairman. The Foundation continues to exist as the conduit to marshal the vision of its donors and their philanthropy to the growing human needs of the entertainment community it serves. MPTF Foundation puts on annual events that help raise millions of dollars in funds to continue to assist those entertainment industry members in need. These events include Michael Douglas and Friends Golf Tournament, The Night Before and The Evening Before.
In 1998, the Woodland Hills campus was renamed The Wasserman Campus of the Motion Picture & Television Fund in honor of the long-time commitment and support of Mr. & Mrs. Lew Wasserman.
In February 2000, William Haug resigned as MPTF CEO. The position was filled by Dr. David Tillman on May 16, 2000. who was one of the highest paid CEOs of a health care center, with a current annual salary which includes perks and bonuses of approximately $750,000.
In 2006, the groundbreaking for the Saban Center for Health and Wellness featuring the Jodie Foster Aquatic Pavilion was held on The Wasserman Campus. The center was named after donors Haim Saban and his wife Dr. Cheryl Saban. It opened its doors on July 18, 2007 and features aquatic and land-based therapies as well as MPTF’s Center on Aging.
Besides offering temporary financial assistance and operating the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital, MPTF’s services operate six outpatient health centers throughout the greater Los Angeles area as well as the Samuel Goldwyn Foundation Children’s Center.
In October 2008, MPTF’s Corporate Board of Directors voted unanimously to close its acute-care hospital and long-term care facility by October 2009. In December 2008 the MPTF Board of Trustees voted unanimously to support the October decision of the Corporate Board. This vote was done without the knowledge of residents or families that would have been affected by the closure. As late as November 2008, after the October 2008 vote to close the acute-care hospital and long-term care facility, residents were admitted to the Long Term Care center under the impression that they would be there ‘for the rest of their lives’, only to learn a few months later that the LTC unit would be closing.
In 2002, Director Barry Avrich produced and directed a documentary about MPTF called Glitter Palace. The film featured an inside look at MPTF and its famous residents.
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