Actor Kirk Douglas, a star of Hollywood's Golden Age, died Wednesday at his home in Beverly Hills. He was 103.
Douglas played a boxer in 1949's Champion, the movie that propelled him to stardom, and created his own film company, Bryna Productions in 1955. He starred in more than 80 movies before retiring from film in 2004, including 1960's Spartacus, serving as a producer and working with blacklisted writer Dalton Trumbo. He was nominated three times for the Best Actor Academy Award, and received an honorary Oscar in 1996.
Douglas was born Issur Danielovitch Demsky in Amsterdam, New York, the son of Russian Jewish immigrants. He worked as a janitor to pay his way through St. Lawrence University, and served in the Navy during World War II. Amid the height of his fame, Douglas was a goodwill ambassador for the U.S. State Department, and he received the Medal of Freedom from former President Jimmy Carter. He was also a philanthropist, launching The Douglas Foundation in 1964.
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Douglas survived a helicopter crash in 1991 and suffered a debilitating stroke in 1996. Married to his wife Anne since 1954, his 11th and final book, Kirk and Anne: Letters of Love, Laughter, and a Lifetime in Hollywood, was published in May.
In a message posted online Wednesday afternoon, son Michael Douglas 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."
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