Kirk Douglas, one of the last surviving movie stars from Hollywood’s golden age, whose rugged good looks and muscular intensity made him a commanding presence in celebrated films like “Lust for Life,” “Spartacus” and “Paths of Glory,” died on Wednesday at his home in Beverly Hills, Calif. He was 103.
My favorites are the predictable ones; Ace in the Hole, Paths of Glory, Spartacus, Seven Days in May, and finally as Chester Lampwick in the Simpsons. He did surprisingly little of note after his 45th birthday, perhaps because he had traded for such a long time on his impressive physique and good looks, but he was a fine actor with more range than many at the time were willing to grant. The scene I most remember from his career is the bout against the Ethiopian in Spartacus; the physicality of both actors is on full display (with a lecherous Olivier in the audience barely concealing the nature of his interest), and after being defeated Douglas closes his eyes and waits for the coup de grace, and it’s both compelling and believable.
We should also acknowledge the allegations that Douglas raped Natalie Wood during the 1950s, although at this point it’s very hard to know what to do with the accusation, given that the claims are second-hand and impossible to verify.